The incoming executive director of the California Bankers Association said the trade group will consider expanding its membership by allowing nonbanking companies to join.

Outlining his agenda for the association, Gary S. Gertz said one way to increase membership would be "to pattern ourselves after what is happening in the marketplace."

This could mean including brokerage and insurance companies, he said in an interview last week during a meeting of California bank presidents here.

Last year, the trade group extended membership to banks and savings and loan associations that operate in California but have headquarters outside the state.

Mr. Gertz, a 30-year financial executive, succeeds Larry Kurmel, who stepped down after a decade at the association's helm. Mr. Kurmel has retired to his seaside home in Santa Cruz.

The new executive director joins the California Bankers after 10 years at First Interstate Bank in Los Angeles and the past two years at the accounting firm KPMG Peat Marwick. He was the association's president in 1993-94.

Mr. Gertz also aims to make technology more accessible to community banks. In particular, he said, the trade group will try to help banks set up Internet sites.

The trade group outlined its legislative agenda for this year at the conference, which was attended by about 125 bankers. Board president John Rebelo, who presided over the conference and heads Peninsula Bank of San Diego, said that with Democrats controlling the governor's office and the state Legislature, the trade group expects to "be on the defense" this year.

Among legislative proposals the trade group plans to oppose are:

A privacy bill that would require consumer consent to virtually all collection, storage, and use of personal information.

A plan to establish a new savings bank charter that is being pushed by the Western League of Savings Institutions. The California Bankers successfully lobbied against a similar proposal last year.

At the national level, a major issue for the trade group is the proposed "know-your-customer" regulation introduced last year by the Federal Reserve and supported by the American Bankers Association.

Mr. Rebelo said the California group's board members intend to visit Washington in March to meet with legislators and oppose the proposal, which would oblige banks to verify the identities of new customers and monitor accounts for suspect activities.

Such a regulation, he said, would require a substantial technology investment that many community banks could not afford.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.