John S. Fitzgerald
A lot can certainly change in just a year. At this time in
2021, our Annual Conference was canceled due to Covid concerns, and many of our
meetings were taking place via Zoom. It was a strange time to be appointed
Chair of the New Jersey Bankers Board of Trustees. I value the importance of
personal relationships, and not being able to gather amongst my peers was something
I would never have expected. Thankfully,
this year promises to be a lot closer to normal, and as we gather as a group
for the NJ Bankers Annual Conference, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on
how much we value in person communications, and the importance of building
As I have mentioned in prior messages, technology has
transformed how we do our jobs at breakneck speed these past two years.
Electronic signatures, virtual meetings, online account openings and many other
innovations that were once on the periphery for some financial institutions are
now accepted as a normal way to do business. Combined with the fact that many
bankers are now working from home on a regular or part-time basis, it’s hard to
remember just what banking looked like a few short years ago.
Technology will continue to force our industry to evolve, in
both how we do business, and how we acquire our customers. But as much as a Google
search could result in our next customer, it’s important to remember how personal
relationships drive a customer’s decision when choosing a bank. Most customers
come from either a relationship they have with someone at the Bank, or, a
relationship they have with someone who is a current customer of the Bank.
Whether it be a family member, friend, business colleague or professional
relationship, your customers are most likely coming from someone that
recommended your Bank to them based on their own experience.
As my time as Chair closes, I strongly encourage all Bankers
to continue to pound the streets, get out in the communities they serve, and
continue to develop those personal relationships that are so vital to our
industry’s success. In good times and bad, New Jersey’s Banks are there to
assist our communities with the financial support they need, while at the same
time make sure our local non-profits continue to receive the assistance they
need to continue their programs that help so many of our customers.
In closing, I’d like to thank the entire staff at NJ Bankers
for making my time as Chair so seamless. Just like we have at our Banks, the NJ
Bankers staff has had to reinvent how they get things done, and their hard work
has allowed us to continue with many of the vital programs we have become used
to, providing the support we as Bankers need.
And finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank John
McWeeney for his service to New Jersey Bankers. John is retiring at the end of
June, and thanks to his leadership NJ Bankers has not only weathered one of the
most challenging periods in its history, it has emerged stronger than ever, and
ready to continue its vital role as advocate for the banking industry in our
I wish the incoming chair Chris Maher much success in his
role in the coming year. Chris has done a remarkable job leading Ocean First
and will be a tremendous asset to our industry. Best of luck Chris, and
congratulations John on your retirement!