Christopher D. Maher
I am deeply honored to serve as Chair of the New Jersey
Bankers Association for 2022-2023. On behalf of the entire team at NJ Bankers
our sincere thanks to John Fitzgerald for his leadership as Chair during his
term; certainly, John’s contributions are greatly appreciated and leave me with
a high standard to meet.
While we are all well aware of the multiple issues facing
our industry – including an inflationary economic environment and the stubborn
persistence of Covid-19 – my early conversations with members consistently underscore
our primary challenge in the current market: supplying our institutions with
the talent we need to succeed today and prosper in an uncertain future.
A Profession with a Purpose
There is much we can do to improve the effectiveness our our
existing staff, but the key to our long-term competitiveness will be the extraordinary
new talent that we attract into our industry.
Before we can promote our banks as an attractive career choice, we need
to demonstrate that the industry is one of promise and opportunity for
all. When I joined the banking industry
in 1986, I recall feeling that banking was a noble profession; one that required
integrity, specialized skills, and was an integral part of the larger
community. Let’s see if we can rebuild
the industry brand together.
It should not be hard to make the case that a career in
banking might be the right path for someone seeking a job with a purpose. We
all know that homeowners, businesses, non-profit organizations, and entire
communities can’t exist without credit, savings, treasury, and other financial
services. Bankers provide the conduit through which funding flows into their
communities – expanding access to housing, building strong businesses, creating
and preserving jobs, and financing vital healthcare, education, and charitable
institutions. Of course, the satisfaction of providing an economic lifeline for
one’s community is just one of the rewards of being a banker. At its core,
banking is a business of human connections. It is about forming relationships with
clients, getting to know individuals, families and business owners, and helping
them realize their dreams.
A Commitment to
In addition, the need to continue to advance the degree of
diversity at the highest levels of our organizations is an important for the
future of our industry. While progress
has been made, much remains to be done.
Over the long term, we simply must appeal to a much wider pool of
candidates and cultivate a vastly higher number of staff that bring their
unique backgrounds and experiences to our organizations. Having a workforce and leadership group that
more closely reflects our communities will enhance our credibility and
encourage broad economic participation from all.
During my tenure as Chair, I’d like to build on the great
work of those who have served in this role before me. Let’s work together to strengthen and grow
the ELN group, advance the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, and
explore the opportunity to boost the industry’s profile among college students.
Collaboration to Make a Difference
I welcome your feedback regarding the talent and diversity
challenges facing your institutions, and any ideas regarding how NJBankers
might be able to support your efforts to recruit, develop, and retain talent in
your organizations. Along these lines, I
have already asked the NJBankers staff to explore creating a multi-bank, shared
internship program that would attract young talent into our organizations and
allow the New Jersey banking industry the opportunity to gain the attention of
college students pursuing opportunities in a variety of professions, including
finance, accounting, technology, engineering, and public policy. Such a program could include coordinated
outreach to college career planning offices, a unified profile on career social
media hubs like Handshake, content and training support, and a utility to allow
college students to file a common employment application for opportunities with
all NJBankers members. It can be
challenging to communicate the dynamic opportunity in our organizations
separately – but together our voice will stand out.
Looking Forward Together
Before we look ahead, it is important to again recognize the
extraordinary work of those who have come before us. On behalf of the entire membership our thanks
to John McWeeney for his tireless service to our industry as he retires at the
end of June 2022. And again, our
appreciation to John Fitzgerald for his service as Chair from 2021-2022.
I look forward to working with Mike Affuso and the entire
staff at NJ Bankers as well as our officers, board, and members. Working together, I know we can make a
difference and have an outstanding year.