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Pilot Bank leaders emerged in Congress: Conversations with a purpose

October 24, 2017

On October 10th through 11th, members of the Pilot Bank team traveled to Washington D.C. for the Florida Bankers Association 9th Annual Emerging Leaders meeting. Rita Lowman, Chairperson for the FBA and Pilot Bank’s Executive Vice President, welcomed attendees with a group briefing. Other Pilot Bank leaders in attendance, which Rita asked to join her on the important trip, included Hanisha Patel, Tom Pollock, and Preston Scott-Argyros. “As Chair, one of my three goals this year is to grow our Emerging Leaders,” expressed Lowman. The 36-hour experience commenced with a meeting at the FDIC. The Pilot Bank group, along with 23 other attendees, spent an entire day speaking to members of Congress about tax reform and regulatory relief. Pollock said, “This was my first trip to D.C. with a purpose.” The FBA’s mission includes influencing the “federal legal and regulatory environment in which [Florida’s financial service providers] serve their customers.” Pollock was pleased at the opportunity to sit with Congressmen and Congresswomen: “They asked us questions and they were engaged.” Lowman echoed his sentiment: “It is powerful when you meet with a member of the Senate or House and have 25 of their Florida constituents in the meeting.”

Patel explained that the most recent recession put banks in a bad light. As a result, much of the legislation that was passed was reactionary. While studies have confirmed that there was, indeed, some irresponsible lending, they have also shown numerous other factors as contributing to the recession. The Pilot Bank group remains thankful for the opportunity to speak with lawmakers about revising legislation because changes hold the potential for them to better serve clients. “As far as lending and how we can help our clients, a lot of times, our hands are tied,” recounted Pollock. “We are not asking for non-regulation,” Patel contributed, “we’re asking for some relief since legislation is so outdated and the impact is so immense to our clients.”

Legislation and requirements surrounding residential lending have negatively impacted community banks. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed in 2010 by President Obama, brought sweeping changes to our Nation’s financial regulation—the likes of which had not been seen since reform after the Great Depression. Dodd-Frank is an all-encompassing bill and is where organizations like the FBA have focused reform efforts. The Pilot Bank team spent time sharing stories with Congressional leaders about how the bill has made it too burdensome for community banks to offer certain products like residential loans. Excited at the occasion to influence reform, Patel went on to share, “We want to focus on helping our economy prosper rather than on hiring compliance officers.”

The Pilot Bank team is optimistic that the reforms they and the FBA deem necessary will come to fruition. “I had never walked the halls of Congress,” Pollock relayed, “I realized how accessible our Congressmen and Congresswomen are.” In fact, he encourages consumers to reach out to their Congressperson. “People don’t think they can make a difference, but it really does make a difference to talk to your representatives.” Scott-Argyros expressed, “Washington is a secret garden that more of us need to tend to. It is magical, and the magic lies in us—we the people.” The Pilot Bank team is proud of its involvement with the FBA, as the organization is committed to the important work of sharing pertinent information with Congress while the landscape of our Nation’s economy changes. Pilot Bank team members are staunch advocates for their clients and dedicated to keeping the FBA abreast of the varied issues their clients encounter. Pollock was pleased that the Congresspersons they met with wanted to know stories about barriers Pilot Bank’s customers faced because of current regulations. Florida Congressman, Brian Mast, looked them in the eye and pointedly asked the team what they want to see in tax reform. “These congressional leaders wanted to hear what we had to say,” Patel recalled.

The time is ripe for reforms to take place and the FBA, an organization dating back to 1888, will capitalize on present opportunities with the potential to help Floridian consumers. While bank advocacy has occurred for many years, bankers are reinvigorated and pleased with the industry’s recovery. It’s past due time to bring laws from the 1970s up-to-date. While some of the regulations enacted during the last recession should stay, we don’t need all of them. “Our economy is in a different place and outdated regulations restrict growth,” Pollock explained. Scott-Argyros noted that political conversations tend to be discouraged in most industries. Still, he pointed out the need for us to set political parties aside and listen to one another: “Doing so will allow us to identify ways that our elected officials can help the banking industry, which will have direct impacts on our communities as a whole.” The Pilot Bank team, along with the FBA, is intent on reform because it positions them to contribute to our economy’s continued growth.

“This was a very meaningful trip for me,” shared Patel, “it was an eye opener.” Pilot Bank leaders are enthusiastic about reform and about sharing what they learned on their journey to D.C. with both Pilot Bank employees and clients. “I am inspired to learn more, and intend to go back as often as I can,” said Scott-Argyros, “I will now interact more than ever with congressional leaders. Our voices not only matter, our elected officials want to hear them.” The leaders understand that the trip, despite how meaningful and important it was, is only one component of reform. The passion and energy the Emerging Leaders exude is an integral part of banking’s growth: “We need young leaders to carry banking forward,” stated Lowman.

You can learn more about Pilot Bank’s core values, and being exemplary stewards of our community is evident in their words and actions. The team encourages reaching out to elected officials to let them know how current regulations restrict growth. Like the leaders of Pilot Bank, we must all do our part to communicate with Congress so that Florida’s economy emerges as a leading example of resilience and sustainable growth.

Looking to the immediate future, in November, The Florida Bankers Association will host 50 Emerging Leaders at the Centre Club in Tampa Bay. During the Tampa Forum, five dynamic, C Suite executives will share their experiences in banking.

“We will continue to grow the future leaders of banking,” stated Lowman, “and l am always pleased when a previous associate moves into a leadership position in the banking industry.” These Emerging Leaders are to be commended for their leadership within Pilot Bank, the Tampa Bay community and beyond.


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This post was written by Elevate, Inc.

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