Did somebody say “roadtrip”? This past week, I had the pleasure of hitting the road and joining a convoy of bankers, advocates, and industry supporters traveling hundreds of miles across the Lone Star State. This was IBAT’s Tour de Texas, an annual event that celebrates and supports the heartbeat of Texas: its community banks.

We tip our hat to community banks

Before delving into the details of my journey, it’s important to acknowledge the significance of community banks. These institutions are more than just places to deposit money; they are pillars upon which local economies thrive — especially in the great state of Texas. Community banks reinvest local dollars back into the community, foster job creation, and nurture the dreams of small business owners and families alike. They are the lifeblood of Main Street, embodying a relationship-centric approach to banking that is unparalleled.

In the vast expanse of Texas, where diversity thrives in both culture and commerce, community banks play a pivotal role. Founded in 1974, the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) stands as a beacon of advocacy for these banks, representing nearly 5,000 banks and branches across over 700 Texas communities. With assets ranging from modest sums to substantial figures, IBAT member banks collectively wield a financial influence of $296 billion statewide.

The annual Tour de Texas isn’t just a road trip; it’s a testament to the unwavering commitment of IBAT and its members to stand by Texas community banks through thick and thin. Spanning cities like Galveston, Houston, and San Antonio, this unique event fosters face-to-face interactions that transcend distance and bureaucracy. These meetings provide a platform for candid discussions, enabling bankers to address challenges head-on and plan for a strong 2024 and beyond.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, challenges and opportunities alike

The conversations during the Tour de Texas shed light on the pressing issues facing community banks. Regulatory burdens loom large, prompting concerns in an increasingly complex financial landscape.

According to IBAT, since 2010, the U.S.has lost approximately one-third of its banks, resulting in less support for business growth and fewer financial services options available to individuals in many parts of the country. IBAT’s legislative priorities seek to alleviate these burdens for Texas’ financial institutions.

Among the legislative priorities discussed was the Community Bank-centric System of Regulation and Oversight, which advocates for the implementation of a community bank classification to distinguish community banks from larger financial institutions. Additionally, the Expansion of Data Security Requirements, which legally requires that any entity handling sensitive personal data adhere to the same Gramm-Leach-Bliley standards required of financial institutions, was very important to the bankers in the room, especially because data security breaches are an ongoing problem, and banks are responsible for much of the associated cost.

As regulations and laws change, it’s more important than ever to stay attuned to the challenges facing our nation’s community banks. While it might be difficult to support banks through all of the legislative burdens on their plates, there are other ways to help make their jobs easier, such as providing bankers with the tools they need to succeed.

A bright future ahead

As bankers continue to navigate an increasingly complex economic environment, IBAT’s Tour de Texas serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of community banks. In the heart of Texas, where the spirit of independence thrives, these banks drive local economies and empower communities to reach greater heights. It’s because of these challenges that we at Vertical IQ stand shoulder to shoulder with IBAT and all of the great community banks in Texas and across the nation.

Created by a team of former bankers, Vertical IQ understands the challenges today’s bankers are up against. Our Industry Intelligence provides community banking teams with timely and relevant content to streamline the research process, save bankers’ time, and put actionable data in the hands of their bank clients and Vertical IQ customers. Leveraging Industry Intelligence helps community bankers anticipate a business’s needs and offer them the best solutions to address those needs.

For more information on how Vertical IQ’s Industry Intelligence can help community bankers tailor solutions for their clients and become trusted advisors, click here!

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