Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

New Guy, New Title, Same Job. (Chairman's Position)

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

New Guy, New Title, Same Job. (Chairman's Position)

Article excerpt

AT THE ABA's CONVENTION LAST month in Phoenix, I became the 2002-2003 "chairman" of the American Bankers Association, a title that replaces the former one of "president." Many state bankers associations have made a similar name change to designate their top volunteer leaders. Now ABA has done the same.

While I'm ABA's first chairman, I am also keenly aware that I follow in a long succession of very fine banking industry leaders.

I hail from Tupelo, Mississippi. You may know it as the birthplace of Elvis Presley. I know it as home. More than that, Tupelo is a community not unlike the place you call home. It's quintessentially American-with its own unique history, hard-working people, and a shared desire to get ahead in life.

And because I come from a place like Tupelo and manage a bank there, I'm really very much a traditional banker, reflective of many in our industry.

In the early days, we were a railroad town. Cotton was king then. There was no bank for a while, lust a few stores, a grocery store, a wagon shop-and, yes, some saloons. Our bank was one of the first in town, begun in the back of a hardware store in nearby Verona, Miss. Like the community you live in, we sent our sons to two World Wars. We survived the Great Depression-barely. We faced a killer tornado that nearly destroyed the town in the 1930s. We experienced the New Deal. And of course, there was Elvis.

Technology and globalization are a reality in my hometown, as I suspect they are in yours. And there have been many other changes in our community over the years. But I would venture that in every U.S. community, there has usually been one constant: Bankers serving the community. We've financed small businesses, helped families buy homes, provided credit for college educations, and otherwise built healthy communities. …

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