What's the Value of ABA Membership?

Article excerpt

Recently, I traveled to Macon, Ga., to visit with 55 local bankers at an ABA Town Meeting. These informal gatherings, held around the country throughout the year, help ABA and our officers keep up with bankers' current views and concerns. In Macon, as in every ABA Town Meeting, we talked about what the bankers wanted to talk about. We discussed bankruptcy reform, consumer privacy, credit unions, online banking, the Bank Insurance Fund and Savings Association Insurance Fund, America's Promise, community-bank tax relief, Chairman Greenspan's re-nomination, Sub-chapter S filings, and Congressional term limits.

The Macon meeting reminded me just how much ground ABA covers on behalf of our industry. In the past few months, ABA's lobbying efforts have helped lead to passage of the important Gramm-Leach-Bliley financial modernization law. We've made solid progress on moving bankruptcy reform forward, winning bills in both the House and Senate. On the legal front and with the media, ABA has defended the right of banks to assess noncustomers a fee at the ATM.

ABA has also staked out a leadership role for bankers in protecting the privacy of our customers. I've formed an industry task force on this subject and asked every bank in the country to adopt and publish a privacy policy within the first 100 days of 2000. Many banks have already taken this important step.

ABA has also enlisted the support of some 2,000 banks to join with Gen. Cohn Powell and America's Promise to mentor and work with kids and young people across America. Working closely with the state bankers associations, ABA has completely restructured our industry's grassroots lobbying system, and created "Team 21" to help us make an even bigger impact in Washington. We fought successfully to win hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed loans for farmers and ranchers. And your association has been working to keep postage-rate hikes in line for bankers.

What does this add up to in terms of member value? Here's one measure: ABA has been chosen 11th overall in Fortune magazine's "Power 25" ranking of the most influential lobbying organizations in the Nation's Capital. ABA outranked all other financial trade associations in this annual survey of Washington's insiders. And ABA has made the Top 25 list three years in a row. In Washington, where value is usually measured by how much clout you have, bankers have it in spades.

ABA's support for our industry goes beyond the halls of Congress and the offices of the federal regulators, of course. …