As new chair, Thurlow pledges to ‘ask the hard questions’

Reflecting on how a mentor earlier in her career was willing to ask hard questions, newly elected ABA Chair Julieann Thurlow pledged to “ask the hard questions” to help the banking industry navigate present and future challenges.

In remarks following her election, Thurlow reflected on how her predecessor as president and CEO of Reading Cooperative Bank, Donald G. Hicks Jr., asked hard questions of her during many mentoring conversations. “Then, as he prepared to retire and was putting a succession plan in place, he had a frank discussion with our bank’s all-male board,” she said. “He asked them if they would be open not just to a female CEO, but to a woman under 40, as their CEO. We need more of Don’s direct, open dialogue today.”

To address the challenges of the future, Thurlow specifically said she would ask hard questions about:

  • Deposit volatility and what it means for the future of the banking business model.
  • Whether legacy cores are able to support the velocity and volume of innovation needed.
  • What traditional banks can learn from fintech firms and online-only banks.
  • How banks will meet the needs of increasingly diverse communities.
  • How banks can build on success in diversifying C-suites and workforces.
  • What bankers can do differently in advocacy on Capitol Hill, in state capitols and with regulatory agencies.


“Whether it’s financial inclusion, DEI, innovation or just the blocking and tackling of the basic banking model, we must always ask ourselves the hard questions,” Thurlow said. “We can never assume we have everything figured out.” Read an ABA Banking Journal profile of Thurlow.