Press Release

 
 
 

Providing a Steady Hand

It all starts here. Until we are able to feel safe, it will be difficult to execute any growth plans in this uncertain environment.

September 4, 2020

WBA

Accepting the responsibility of leadership for the WBA at this moment promises to be one of the most potentially rewarding and, yes, challenging tasks of my banking career. The industry, particularly for small and medium-size institutions, is in the midst of changes across the board: regulatory, competitive, societal and technological. The world is grappling with a pandemic not experienced in a century. It is a powerful set of circumstances.

And, candidly, it is not what was I was expecting. The banking environment changed drastically since I first began preparing to accept the position. As we entered 2020, the extent and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic were just entering our consciousness. The economy was relatively strong, and societal issues, while present, were among many concerns, but not at the forefront.

However, the responsibility of leadership requires that one accept the hand that is dealt. My ultimate goal, working with the board and the membership, is to provide a steady hand, thoughtful guidance, and a roadmap to ensure that we all navigate safely through today and look to that tomorrow when a vaccine becomes widely available.

It all starts here. Until we are able to feel safe, it will be diffi- cult to execute any growth plans in this uncertain environment.

The longer the situation requires shelter-in-place and limited contact business activities, the more impactful the pandemic will be on our society and the economy.

Thinking strictly on the industry side, banks, financial service organizations, be they brick and mortar banks, credit unions, fintech companies or hybrids, will all be part of the solution. When we think back to the 2008 economic crisis, we (banks) were part of the problem. In many areas, we were an indus- try that, to some degree, had lost its way. This time, we are positioned to be part of the solution. I’m proud to be part of an industry that has cleaned up its act. Our balance sheets are stronger, our internal controls are better, and we have learned our lesson.

As the regional head of a geographically dispersed mid-tier bank, I have a clear view of the industry. I am used to working across time zones and with diverse customers. To provide some perspective, the Bank of Guam is headquartered 17 hours and a day ahead from my office in San Francisco. Guam, a voting territory of the United States, is itself a melting pot of ethnic- ities, including Austronesian, Chamorro, Filipino, Japanese, Pacific Islander and Spanish. Guam faces a similar situation to mid-tier banks in the wider financial service industries: We have the spirit, we have the desire, and we have the expertise, but the global financial services industry has vastly more re- sources than we do. We, both Guam and WBA banks, not only have survived, we have thrived.

And that brings me to another concern where I hope to provide stewardship within our industry: Diversity and Inclusion. I want to lead the discussion that we must have and begin to set the agenda that addresses how do we, as an industry, promote diversity and inclusion to ultimately have a more diverse board- room and leadership representation.

I am hopeful that during my term, we will successfully work our way through the pandemic and come together as an industry to be a major force in a successful economic recovery while attracting more diverse leaders for the next generation of banking.

It’s a tall order, but I am confident that the WBA can be the organization that will be recognized for its achievements in a world that needs the services that we provide.


 
 
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