Last week the Indiana Bankers Association hosted a record 1,249 people at our 21st annual Mega Conference. Of that total, 1,039 were bankers, with associate members and speakers making up the balance. While these numbers are impressive, what struck me most about this year’s Mega was the positive, upbeat outlook emanating from bankers. During the past few years, the traditional banking community has been under unfair attack from President Obama, Congress and the national media. Bankers have been wrongly blamed for the Great Recession, the housing bubble and high unemployment. While we know that only a handful of banks participated in any unsound and unsafe activities, every bank in the country has been a victim and has suffered.
That is why it was so encouraging at the Mega Conference to sense renewed optimism among bankers. They were talking about growth, rather than hunkering down to survive. They were talking about opportunities through increased demand for business loans, rather than lamenting little or no loan demand. They were talking about examiners’ lifting regulatory agreements, instead of placing regulatory agreements.
Don’t get me wrong … we still have a long way to go to approach the economic level enjoyed prior to the recession. Perhaps we will never regain that level. Perhaps we should not regain that level—it may have been unsustainable. Nevertheless, it certainly was nice at the Mega Conference to be immersed in a positive atmosphere.
As a further testament to banking, I responded recently to a scathing column written by Tony Fannin of BE Branded, a marketing and brand development company. The column was publicized in INside Indiana Business on April 20, and our IBA response ran on May 4. Many bankers have contacted me since to express appreciation that I stood up for banking and bankers.
Part of my job is to tell the true story of banking, and I am proud to do so. Banking is the business that supports all others. Every business requires capital to exist, and banks supply much of that capital. It is an honor to speak out for the Indiana banking community.
Thank you for your support of the IBA, and thank you for all that you do for your communities, day in and day out!