Being A Bank Director Ain`t What It Used To Be

Bank Director magazine isn`t at all what it used to be, either. We`re celebrating our 10th anniversary of publication this year, and we`re a very different magazine from the one we launched in 1990. How far have we come? Well, a decade ago, our cover featured not George W. Bush, not Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and not even their Dad, then President George Bush. No, Bank Director`s inaugural issue sported Neil Bush. Remember him? At the time, it looked like Neil might even end up in jail, along with some of his fellow directors at Colorado`s Silverado Savings, under siege from regulators. Directors of financial institutions everywhere were nervously asking their lawyers and accountants whether they should resign from their board seats and whether the risks were worth the meager rewards of a directorship. Reflecting those concerns, our early issues focused on D&O liability insurance, the duties of directors, and the exposure inherent in being a bank director. No director a decade ago could foretell he`d be debating the merits of the bank`s URL (whatever that would be), or that the venerable Bank of America would be headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, or that banks with a “dot-com” after their name would be pirating customers from Albany to Yuba City. Nor could we have anticipated we`d be writing about such things. But that`s what makes this enterprise so much fun. What do you suppose we`ll be writing about in 2010? My guess is we`ll still be read by thousands of community bankers. A decade ago, virtually everyone was projecting no more than 2,000 to 3,000 banks for the millennium, down from 12,000 or so in 1980. In fact, with new charters abounding and large banks becoming more selective about the markets they target, we think there still will be several thousand bank charters out there. We`ll still look a lot more like, well, like the United States, than England or Japan or any of the countries whose banks can be tallied on the fingers of two hands. When we talk with the directors of 2010, we`ll be talking to a group that`s a lot more diverse than bank boards are today. Bank boards won`t be made up of 50+ white males, as so many are today; they`ll be aging thirty- and forty-something dot-com entrepreneurs who are far more representative of the communities in which they live and who are infinitely better informed in a multitude of areas, thanks to the Internet or whatever comes next. And much as technology companies today have boards made up of specialists in critical areas like alliances and Web infrastructure, so will banks increasingly have directors with specific expertise in the businesses of their best customers and in technical areas like database marketing. And this for sure: Just as we began publication without a clue about what the environment would look like 10 years out, the banking industry in 2010 will once again defy our abilities to predict the future. With some certainty, though, we can safely predict it will be quite a ride.

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