By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition December 2018
Rio Bank president Ford Sasser hosted an event to welcome all Rio Grande Valley bankers for the introduction of Christopher J. Furl ow,the new president and CEO of the Texas Bankers Association (TBA).
The attendees wereeager to hear Christopher or Chris as his friends call him, talk about the latest news on the association.
Ford called Chris to the podium, “I want to thank Ford and Rio Bank for hosting this on behalf of TBA. You may not know this, but outside of the valley, Ford is one heck of an advocate on behalf of Valley bankers.”
Chris made reference that Ford is the chair of the TBA Government Relations Council, a role that he plays well, whether it’s in Washington D.C. or Austin he represents all very well.
Chris said that banking is a noble industry. However, the industry has been riddled for the last decade with overregulation. “Here in Texas, we’re very fortunate from the standpoint that the economy is booming. Folks have jobs.” He said, “From the TBA perspective, we want to help you be prepared to take advantage of this booming economy across Texas.”
Even with all of that, the banking industry still has issues. Chris pointed out that the role of the Texas Banking Association is to help bankers be bankers. “We have the best bankers in the United States bar none. We were the first banking association of the United States in 1885; today the best. We’re going to stay that way. Texas should lead the way. But there are three areas that we need to focus on to help make that really happen,” he said.
He defined the risks for the banking industry, and they are competitive, regulatory, and cyber risks.
“Now we can talk all day about all the other two risks because we’ve been dealing with those for a long time. Cyber risk can have an impact on a bank in an instant, particularly our community banks. We have to address it on your behalf, TBA should be helping you to solve that problem,” he said.
He announced that they are working on a couple of initiatives which are underway. He urged the bankers to take a look at the TBA’s website and to focus on cyber courses for the staff and to take advantage of all the resources available.
“We already are engaged in a technology committee to start working this issue.” He said, “We have to have a sense of urgency about everything we do in TBA. We’re going to solve problems, or we’re not going to do it.”
The cyber issue has been a challenge for bankers and everyone else in Texas and the world. That is why Chris is saying they are going to move very quickly to address these forms of risk that bankers are facing today.
He also mentioned that they have formed a Taskforce to leverage every part of TBA to look at what the industry is going to look like in three, five, and ten years.
“We’re going to lean forward through this future banking task force. Those of you who are not CEOs are emerging leaders here today. There is a role for you.”
He spoke about working hand-in-hand to combat issues like cyber risks, and also on the opportunity related to technology. “We will drive not only our products and our services, but our policy from a government relations standpoint and defend the industry.”