Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Q: Does Banker Involvement Make a Difference? an Interview with James Ballentine, ABA's Grassroots Expert

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Q: Does Banker Involvement Make a Difference? an Interview with James Ballentine, ABA's Grassroots Expert

Article excerpt

ABA Banking Journal: Has financial reform stimulated or suppressed banker involvement?

James Ballentine: When there are people fundamentally seeking to change your industry, you're more likely to get involved. There's a tidal wave of laws and regulations coming. Bankers want to ensure that legislators understand what this fundamental change will mean to their bank and their customers.

ABABJ: What's the biggest obstacle to involvement?

JB: Bankers have jobs. In the past, a lot of bankers have seen it as the association's job to carry the message forward. That's changed. They now see it as their personal responsibility to get involved. That's very important. More activism benefits the industry.

ABABJ: Which is more important--writing to a Member of Congress or meeting with him or her?

JB: Step one is a letter-writing campaign. Letters open the door and need to be done just to keep up with those on the other side of an issue. Step two is establishing a solid relationship between the banker and the Member of Congress. Both are effective and important.

ABABJ: What's the goal of a contact?

JB: The best lobbying is an education effort--laying out what the issue is in a practical, fundamental way. So the goal is first to educate, second to attempt to persuade, and third, to get an understanding of where the Member of Congress is. Does he or she understand both sides of the issue?

ABABJ: Are bankers intimidated by meeting with their Congressman?

JB: Some bankers cringe at the thought of talking to their elected representatives. …

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