My fellow community bankers, I am both humbled and honored to serve as president of the Community Bankers of West Virginia for the upcoming year. Humbled because I have the opportunity to serve a great association following in the footsteps of a tremendous community banker by the name of Bob Baronner. I am truly honored to have this opportunity. As we enter our third decade of service to our industry it is appropriate to take stock of not only where we have been, but more importantly where we are going as we look to the future. Understanding the past is important as we move forward. Over the past decade we have faced unprecedented challenges….coming to grips with the economic recession and the subsequent regulatory overreach. Over seven years of near zero interest rates has reduced everyone’s bottom line. This time has not been easy, but community banks, and indeed our association members, have shown great resilience. Not only have we survived, but we look forward to the future. Yes, we have all lamented the increased level regulatory scrutiny, but in some instances it has been beneficial and has helped us become better community bankers. There will be new challenges as we move forward; Basel III implementation, developing new sources of interest and non-interest income, maintaining a trained, motivated staff to name just a few. But we have ample resources at our disposal. Our association is strong, with over 50 banks that provide a solid base for networking. We have a voice, and believe me it is heard both on the state and national levels. I encourage you to use the resources of our association for education and development of your Board through our Director’s College and for your up and coming talent through our Leadership Banker Development Program. Our state association in conjunction with our ICBA affiliation provides a valuable and cost effective resource base to assist association members in dealing with the uncertainties the future will bring. I urge all members to stay engaged. It is only through active involvement that we can meet these future challenges. We strive to make our association membership a value-added proposition. I believe we have been very successful in this regard, but we can only continue this success with the support of everyone…that includes both our member banks and associate members. I look forward to serving as your president during the coming year. If you have any questions about the association, do not hesitate to contact me directly at 304-621-9325.
With Best Regards,
Hugh G. Hitchcock, CBWV President