Rebeca Romero Rainey
Photo by Robert Severi

While our decisions over the past year have been driven even more by our mission than by our bottom lines, we’ve also achieved good results.

Winter is upon us. Dec. 21 marks the solstice, the official start of winter and the shortest, darkest day of the year. But as I see it, that milestone also signals a transition to light, as days grow longer from there.

It’s a fitting analogy for community banking in 2021. With all that has happened—from continued uncertainty to the politicization of our world to increased competition—we could have been tempted to look around and see only darkness. But we haven’t. Despite the intense environment, we’ve chosen to not only focus on the light; we’ve helped bring it, too.

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Where I’ll Be

I’m looking forward to gathering with the ICBA team in our various offices and spending time with family and friends as we celebrate holiday festivities.

In fact, as I look back on this year, I’m struck by how much we were able to make a difference in the lives of our customers. We didn’t allow ourselves to be pulled down. Instead, we rose to the challenge of supporting those who needed us in three critical ways.

  1. We prioritized our communities. When times looked difficult over the past year, community banks upped their game. For example, community bank engagement in programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) helped small businesses navigate the continued ripple effects of COVID-19. Businesses and consumers were able to rely on the stability of their local community bank to support them in uncertain times.
  2. We strove to support our work families, our teams. With uncertainty about branch openings and in-person staffing, we came up with new and creative ways to think about bank work environments. We also explored new ways to recruit and retain with benefits we had never previously thought possible, including flexible and remote work opportunities. We focused our efforts on ensuring employees felt safe, connected and supported.
  3. We outperformed as businesses. While our decisions over the past year have been driven even more by our mission than by our bottom lines, we’ve also achieved good results. For community banks, earnings have been strong and balance sheets solid. We’ve been in a place of continued growth and development. As it turns out, doing good is just good all around.

Now we’re heading into the new year positioned well amid continued change. By staying focused on who we are as community bankers, we have flourished. I’m certain that our collective mission of putting community first has helped us weather this year’s storms and will be our guiding light in 2022.

I wish you and yours a very happy, healthy and prosperous holiday season!

Rebeca Romero Rainey
President and CEO, ICBA
Connect with Rebeca @romerorainey

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