Last week the Indiana Bankers Association hosted its Annual Convention, featuring a theme of: “Our Roots Run Deep.” Indeed, the roots of the Indiana banking community do run deep — for our Association and for our member banks. IBA was founded in 1897. During its early years, armed bank robberies were a significant threat to Indiana banks. IBA responded by organizing vigilante banker groups, supplying them with rifles, shotguns and pistols. IBA even hosted statewide shoots for bankers to display their shooting skills. When I shared this story at Convention with Monty Lepper and Jeff Gump of Farmers & Merchants Bank, LaOtto, they chuckled and told me that their bank still has its IBA-issued vintage firearms.
One positive that came from these vigilante groups was the formation of the Indiana State Police. Once the Indiana State Police was formed in the 1930s, bankers laid down their guns and dismantled their vigilante groups. I know that every bank in Indiana has priceless stories about their histories, because our roots run deep.
At our Annual Convention, IBA was honored to have many outstanding speakers make presentations to the attendees. We were particularly honored to have the vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Tom Hoenig, keynote a luncheon. Hoenig previously served as the chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He is known as an anti-inflation hawk and frequently speaks out against the “too big to fail” concept. Unafraid of controversy, he has advocated for the separation of investment banking and commercial banking activities.
Outgoing IBA Chairman Jim Marcuccilli reviewed his extremely successful year. He reported the sound financial position of IBA, tremendous success at the 2013 session of the Indiana General Assembly, and the importance of IBA educational programming to Indiana bankers. In recognition of the impact of his efforts this past year, he was awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor bestowed by the governor of Indiana. Congratulations, Jim.
Also at Convention, ample time was devoted to issues of concern for bankers. Most emanate from federal policy, such as excessive regulatory burden, unfair tax-exempt or tax-advantaged retail competition, and the lengthy suppression of interest rates at historical lows.
Regardless of issues and challenges, the mood was upbeat. Bankers are voicing more optimism about the overall economy and prospects for their communities and banks. IBA was proud to play host to this successful gathering.