Last evening the Indiana Bankers Association 2012 Annual Convention concluded with a banquet honoring past and current Association leaders, recognizing Forty Year Club members and paying tribute to longtime employee Sandi Crites, who retires in December after 35 years of IBA service. As always, Convention was an opportunity to visit with old friends and to make new ones.
During the past few years, there was a lingering sense of uncertainty at our Annual Conventions. Bankers were anxious about the future — understandably, since none had ever experienced such a protracted economic period, punctuated with low interest rates, high loan defaults, staggering unemployment and a tarnished image among the general public.
But last year, at the 2011 Annual Convention, there was a slight yet discernible uptick in banker confidence. It was a welcomed shift, leading to the best news of all — an unbridled feeling of optimism that permeated the 2012 Annual Convention. This year, it was a relief to hear bankers talk about plans to increase their lending. It was heartening to hear them discuss opportunities for expanding their market footprints or their product offerings. And it was exciting to see their enthusiasm for new options made possible by mobile banking.
There are still countless unknown — and some known — impediments for bankers. Many rules are yet to be drafted to implement the Dodd-Frank Act. Unemployment rates remain stubbornly high. In many areas, particularly rural areas, finding qualified, professional employees is a challenge. Today’s record federal government debt level, combined with trillions more dollars in unfunded entitlement programs, must be dealt with … though Congress has not yet had the backbone.
Nothing is perfect but, ultimately, positive attitudes triumph over negativity and fear. Once the shift to optimism begins, better days always lie ahead.