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Forward-Thinking Leadership Is Key

By: Alex Peak

For the second year in a row, the California Bankers Association’s Convention of Bank Officers and Directors (120th annual) was coupled with its Bank Counsel Seminar (44th annual).

The theme of this year’s convention, “Bold Leadership: Is a New Business Model Needed?” explored several hot-button aspects of the financial services industry. Marketing, social media, ethics, reputation management, sales and succession planning were among the session topics.

Martin Gruenberg, FDIC vice chairman, delivered the keynote address. Gruenberg, who joined the FDIC in 2005, mentioned that his friends and family could not understand why he would want to join the FDIC when nothing exciting was going on in banking.

“I don’t need a crisis to find this work interesting,” is what he said he reminds his friends.

Though Gruenberg admitted the economy, specifically the current environment in California, is not quite out of the woods yet, he is hopeful the corner has been turned.

“Increasing regulation, as a whole gamut, will continue to be a challenge,” he said. However, with the help of the Dodd-Frank Act and implementing prudential regulation, Gruenberg said he believes the financial industry will be better prepared should it face another future crisis. Prior to the crisis, there was regulation, but it was in specific, segmented areas. Moving forward, Gruenberg said there will need to be more systematic resolution and comprehensive regulation.

The second day of the convention, bankers were able to participate in a regulatory update panel, which was moderated by Maurine Padden, CBA executive vice president and chief administrative officer. The panel included Teresa Curran, senior vice president, financial institutions supervision, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Stan Ivie, regional director, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; William Haraf, western district deputy comptroller, California Department of Financial Institutions; and Brian Quade, assistant deputy comptroller, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

When the panel was asked about recapitalizing, Ivie said the biggest concern he sees is that a lot of banks are going sideways —  where the hemorrhaging has stopped but they are not necessarily making money either. “These banks aren’t failing, but we’re not seeing how they can earn their way out of this situation.”

On the subject of regulatory reform, Quade said they are trying to take a balanced approach, with more than 60 groups working together to interpret and understand Dodd-Frank. “We’re trying to do everything we can to lighten the load of the regulatory burden.”

As is tradition for the CBA, the convention marks a passing of the torch for its board of directors. New members include chair, Steven Buster, president and CEO, Mechanics Bank, Richmond; chair-elect, Mary Allis Curran, executive vice president, Union Bank of California, San Francisco; immediate past chair, Richard P. Smith, president and CEO, Tri-Counties Bank, Chico; treasurer, Felix Fernandez, regional banking president for Northern California, Wells Fargo, San Francisco; vice chairman at large, Tom Beene, president and CEO, Visalia Community Bank; vice chairman at large, Donald P. Johnson, president and CEO, American Business Bank, Los Angeles; vice chairman at large, Tom Meuser, chairman and CEO, El Dorado Savings Bank, Placerville; and vice chairman at large, Rick Sanborn, president and CEO, Seacost Commerce Bank, Chula Vista.

Alex Peak is assistant editor of BankNews.

Copyright © June 2011 BankNews Media