The Alliance: A Foundation for a Stronger Economy

By Steve Turkiewicz

It is an honor to serve as this year’s Alliance of State Bankers Associations chairman. My vision for the Alliance this year comes from its fundamental definition—a group of complementary entities that collaborate in pursuit of a common goal.

Our common goal is to defend the banking industry and the bankers’ ability to serve their communities. We must never forget that banking is a noble profession. Banks are institutions whose people help their customers achieve their goals and help make their dreams happen every day throughout the country.

Our name truly reflects the nature of the organization, an alliance of state bankers associations from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. It is an agreement between the state bankers associations and ABA to mutually cooperate on crafting and supporting federal legislative efforts. It is a collaboration of common interests, not a collective. Each state association is free to choose whether or not to support any particular Alliance initiative and position. But, without broad support from the states, it’s usually a recipe for a failed congressional agenda.

The Alliance takes full advantage of the complementary strengths of the hometown influence of individual state bankers associations and their member bankers with the resources of ABA to get legislation passed or stop bills from passing. Together, the Alliance members provide much-needed advocacy for our member banks both in Washington, D.C., and in our state capitals. As the saying goes, “all politics is local.” Having the broad-based support of the Alliance membership is a factor for congressional action.

Over the decades, the Alliance members have worked vigorously together to fashion and gain passage of federal legislation that was a result of consensus and compromise within the banking industry. From the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, sweeping legislation succeeded because the Alliance was there to craft an approach that garnered needed support within the industry.

Today, there is the Dodd-Frank Act—an arduous journey for all of us. From the days and nights of congressional wrangling to today’s steady drip of new regulations, the Alliance has been actively working with Congress and the regulators to reduce Dodd-Frank’s effects on our banks. The efforts range from developing legislation that tailor its provisions to reflect more accurately banks’ business models to supporting broad-based financial regulatory reform legislation. At the same time, the Alliance members and our bankers are commenting on the many proposed rules implementing Dodd-Frank.

One such effort led to the delay of the TILA-RESPA integrated disclosures and the regulators’ hold-harmless letters for good-faith efforts to implement TRID. More recently, the Alliance has been critical in the Pass Reg Relief Now campaign that was putting regulatory reform front-and-center on Capitol Hill when this issue went to press.

I would like to say this is a particularly interesting time for the banking industry, for our members, for our associations and for the Alliance. But that would fail to recognize the turbulence and change that was, is and will continue to shape America’s banking industry.

We all operate in a dynamic economy. The word “change” is now joined by the “disruption” in our everyday conversations. Those words don’t just apply to banking. They are part of every business, economic and political discussion in every corner of our country.

We know that bankers are up to the challenge in this new economy. The state bankers associations and ABA are committed to working together to continue helping bankers successfully meet these challenges and help their customers build stronger local communities and economies, which is the foundation for a stronger national economy.

Steve Turkiewicz is president and CEO of the Montana Bankers Association and chairman of the Alliance of State Bankers Associations.