Dave Joves: Hate must stop04.06.2021
In July 2020, I took a moment as the newly elected Chairman of the Western Bankers Association (WBA) to address what I saw as the issues facing our industry and the challenges that we faced. At the time, the country was a few months into the COVID-19 crisis, and the actions required to fight the pandemic were primarily in the political, not the medical arena.
While the pandemic continues, the increasingly successful implementation of a national vaccination program combined with federal stimulus, primarily via the PPP program, has positively impacted the economy.
But we are still in the proverbial woods. The virus has not been eradicated. The economy has not fully recovered. And new challenges arrive daily.
But, now as then, I am optimistic, despite the hurdles ahead. The banking industry, working with the SBA, collectively provided 79 percent of the PPP loans issued in 2021. Remarkably, 85 percent of those loans went to businesses with less than 10 employees, the backbone employers to local economies across the nation.
It has not been easy; the job is not done.
Now, as then, the banking industry is in the midst of changes across the board: regulatory, competitive, societal, and digital transformation. While grappling with the pandemic, we also face new issues daily.
One particularly troubling circumstance is the rise of violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander community in the U.S.
Admittedly, holding a leadership position at the Bank of Guam which is a voting territory of the U.S. with a diverse population, makes me keenly aware of the “S” in the world of ESG (Environment, Social Responsibility, and Governance). But for the banking industry, ensuring that we adhere to the principles of social responsibility and being respectful of all people, regardless of their ethnicity, must be a core value.
My position on the recent attacks is straightforward: This has got to stop.
When I became WBA chairman, I wrote that I wanted to lead the discussion that we must have about how we as an industry promote diversity and inclusion to ultimately have more diverse boardrooms and leadership representation. We must, as an industry, demonstrably support ethnic communities. As an MDI, Bank of Guam has been fortunate to have been able to have a great impact with the PPP program in support of our customers. Thankfully, we do not stand alone. WBA members have mightily contributed their resources at this critical time.
The industry’s achievements are many. The tasks ahead are consequential, but our goals are achievable.
For more than a year, in the midst of the pandemic, banks, and financial institutions have worked with customers. First to help them survive and now, hopefully, to help them revive and, ultimately, to thrive. Bankers have always known that our success was predicated on the well-being of our customers.
It all starts with us.
Banks, financial service organizations, be they brick and mortar banks, credit unions, fintech companies, or hybrids, will all be part of the resurgence. We are more battle-tested than we want to be, but we are also more resilient.
It has been my honor to serve as Chairman of your association. It hasn’t been easy, but we are committed to supporting our members, our customers, and our employees. As we are the financial backbone of the country. We accept the challenges.