This nation was founded by rabble-rousers looking to do things differently, and that’s exactly who we are as community bankers. We stand up to the status quo to offer the products that meet the needs of our communities, which are as diverse as this great nation.

Our independence empowers us by providing the freedom to do things our way. For instance, if we’re working with a seasonal business with cyclical cash flows, we can structure their loan in a way that will most benefit them. We don’t have to fit them into a particular box; we build the loan around them.

Our independence also offers flexibility in how we run our banks as businesses. We can set our priorities and consider the big picture beyond returns and revenue.

For example, my bank just went through a core conversion, and at the same time, our monthly profits were shrinking slightly. With the stress levels around the core conversion at their height, we made the executive decision to wait to address profits until its conclusion. We wanted our team to celebrate their hard work, not immediately pivot to a new issue.

Our independence also brings with it a sincere connection to our communities. Our support goes beyond writing a big check; it sits at the heart of who we are as community bankers.

Case in point: Just over a year ago, our community experienced a tragic event where a seventh grader, who had been bullied in school, committed suicide. It was heart-wrenching for the entire community. So, our bank decided to help with recovery: We contracted with a speaker we’d seen at ICBA LIVE to come to the middle and high schools and discuss ways to stop bullying and be kinder to each other. After that session, a sixth grader came up to me to thank the bank for sponsoring the session. She said she had contemplated suicide before, and it helped to know that people cared. That’s why we do what we do—because we care about and can positively support our communities.

With that impact in mind, we need to hold onto our independence at all costs. At the same time, we must continue to look for opportunities to level the playing field. We will persist in lobbying for tiered regulation because we should have less of a compliance burden than a $3 trillion bank. Advocacy matters, because it will help to ensure a brighter future for our communities—the future our forefathers would have wanted.

My Top 3

Favorite ways to celebrate the Fourth of July

  1. Going to the lake with our family and dogs

  2. Watching fireworks from the pontoon boat

  3. Grilling out

Happy Independence Day!