Hail and Farewell

Reflections on a half-century at BankNews.

By Bill Poquette, Editor-in-Chief

“It’s about time,” some will say. And I agree. After 50 years on the staff of BankNews, as managing editor and editor-in-chief, I am retiring effective June 30.

This has been my plan for most of the past year. If I had any doubts it was the right thing to do, they vanished a few months ago during a cocktail party at yet another bankers’ conference. As my wife and I stood alone, surrounded by cliques of younger partiers — networking, they would say — a long-time friend and his spouse walked up. “It’s like when we started going to these things,” he laughed. “We didn’t know anybody then and we don’t know anybody now.”

The intervening years have been good to me and for me. I’ve come to know hundreds of bankers. I’ve been privileged to interview chairmen and presidents of the American Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America and many state associations, plus community bankers whose success stories I’ve wanted to share with readers. Federal and state regulators have also patiently endured my questions. Also among the countless friends I’ve made and whose support I’m grateful for are consultants and vendors whose roles are essential to community banks.

There are far too many to thank individually. I hope this collective acknowledgement of friendship and support will suffice.

It probably shows in my work — I hope it does — that I hold community bankers in high esteem. They fuel local economies, support small businesses, make dreams come true. I can’t imagine a financial world with only a few giant institutions.

As I leave, I am concerned about attrition. For better or worse, consolidation is happening in many industries. But I am encouraged that de novo banks are emerging in many places around the country after a long hiatus following the Great Recession. I also find some comfort in the regulators’ moves to tailor their rules to fit bank size and business models. And community bankers are survivors.

Looking ahead, Alaina Webster, who joined BankNews in 2017 as managing editor, will be overseeing future issues of the magazine. Previously an editor of scientific journals for Allen Press in Lawrence, Kan., Alaina has contributed much to this publication and BankNews media over the past 18 months. In that short time she has improved the brand with her insightful back-of-the-book Trend Lines columns and interviews with key industry players. Her new bi-monthly effort, Generation Next, features profiles of up and coming young bankers.

BankNews, Ag Banking and other BankNews media print and digital offerings will be even better as time goes on with Alaina’s dedication to journalistic quality and professionalism.

As for me, I’ve seen and documented a lot of banking history. In recent times, I’ve occasionally been asked when I was going to retire. “I’m having too much fun,” was my standard reply. “Every five or 10 years there is a new crisis to write about.” I’ll miss the next one but it will kindle memories. 

Bill Poquette, Editor-in-Chief,

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