Colin Barrett, President/CEO, Tennessee Bankers Association
Thank you to everyone who attended the 133rd Annual Meeting of the Tennessee Bankers Association at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. This convention destination, postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic, marked our return to this beautiful property for the first time since 2014. With 640 attendees, this year’s annual meeting was one of the largest gatherings of bankers to occur within the industry this year.
The Annual Meeting is an essential event in the Association’s year. It allows our industry to gather and address the opportunities and challenges we face. And 2023 certainly feels like an inflection point for the banking industry. While the 2008 financial crisis was a difficult time and the pandemic was an “unprecedented time,” the period we find ourselves in now is not as easily defined.
The three bank failures that began in March led to questions from the media and customers regarding the strength of the banking industry, and brought AOCI and uninsured deposits into daily conversations. And while rapid increases in interest rates squeezed margins for many banks, the Tennessee banking industry continues to successfully navigate these challenges. Annual Meeting provided Tennessee bankers an opportunity to discuss these issues while building strong relationships with peers that are important as we face an uncertain economy.
The Annual Meeting also provided an opportunity to reflect on the association’s past year. TBA’s 2022-23 Chairman McCall Wilson was an outstanding leader and representative of our industry. Sitting in on visits with McCall and bankers across the state was a highlight for me. He is a lifelong learner who enjoys being with his peers, and his wit and candor led to some of the most engaging banker discussions I’ve ever been a part of it. Although his year as Chairman has ended, do not be surprised if he shows up at your bank to visit one of these days.
Looking ahead, I’m excited to work with TBA’s new chairman, Jim Rieniets. His passion for government relations is known throughout the industry. It is not unusual for Jim to take six or more trips to D.C. a year to advocate on behalf of our industry. When SVB and Signature Bank failed, Jim was in the FDIC offices that next Monday reiterating the strength of Tennessee banks while working toward a solution that would benefit the entire industry.
As Jim takes the helm of the Association, the TBA team will work with him to continue our focus on TBA’s core objectives—education, government relations, and products and services.
Here’s a recap and look at what to expect in these areas:
Over the past year our education programs, led by Monique White and Sheena Frech, have seen increased participation, driven in large part by banks that are onboarding new employees. Additionally, our forums are thriving with more banks participating, and we have launched our Senior Risk Officer and BSA forums. Our schools and one day programs continued to grow as we incorporated remote learning into our offerings. And it is a great statement for the Association that in this age of consolidation, neighboring banks without branches in Tennessee are making up a growing percentage of our education classes.
Amy Heaslet and Stacey Langford successfully navigated the state legislature in 2023, passing a series of banking and trust law updates while preventing social issues from making their way into banking policy. This is a challenge we will continue to see as banks unwillingly find themselves in a culture war between the two political parties.
In Washington, we are engaged with our Congressional delegation on a number of issues. Whether it is pushing back on regulatory actions, leveling the playing field with non-banks or addressing economic uncertainty, not a day goes by without multiple conversations with our elected leaders.
This year’s Washington Conference had nearly 100 attendees. If you have not joined us in D.C. lately, I encourage you to do so. Your participation is essential to our success.
Financial Products and Services, Inc. continues to grow its business and added two new staff members over the past year. Last month, we finalized an acquisition of an insurance agency in Murfreesboro that will allow Financial PSI to expand and diversify its customer base.
As always, the best way to support the TBA is to support Financial PSI.
The Year Ahead
These are just a few of the priorities of your Association as we enter our 134th year of serving the Tennessee banking industry. If there is anything I can do for you in the year ahead, please reach out.