Clinton No Problem for Banks, Says Incoming ABA Chief

Q&A William H. Brandon Jr. is an FOB -- a friend of Bill's, as in Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas.

The president of First National Bank of Phillips County, in Helena, Ark., Mr. Brandon was chairman of his state's Economic Development Commission in Gov. Clinton's firm term. And as fate would have it, he is also the president-elect of the American Bankers Association, scheduled to take command of the industry's largest trade group only a month before the election.

Mr. Brandon took time during the Democratic National Convention in New York this month to talk to American Banker reporter Robert Garsson about the governor and what a Democratic victory would mean for the banking industry.

America Banker: Was it luck or foresight that the ABA put you in the leadership ranks when your governor is seeking the presidency?

William H. Brandon Jr.: It is just kind of a matter of timing, and it has nothing to do at with who the president of the U.S. is.

AB: Are you a supporter of Gov. Clinton?

WB: I think he has done a very good job as governor, a great job as governor. We have always supported him as governor. I'd like to see Bill elected president.

AB: What has he done for the banking industry in Arkansas?

WB: He absolutely believes that the strength of the country is in the grass roots and in the small-business community. So it's always been kind of a partnership for us.

AB: He seems to have a strong affinity for community banks. Should large institutions worry about a Clinton administration?

WB: In my mind, there is one bank industry. We are all in this thing together. All banks agree on 90% of the issues. So it's not really a large bank versus small bank issue to me. I don't think he should be a problem for any size bank.

AB: Is he the kind of person who would be sympathetic to banks on the regulatory burden issue?

WB: He would be sympathetic to what bankers are saying about regulation. We are in a situation where it is not a matter of "We are not going to be regulated!" It is a matter of whether we are going to be regulated in a way that makes sense.

AB: The President was riding high in the polls when Gov. Clinton announced his candidacy. Did you think he was crazy to jump in the race?

WB: Bill Clinton has always been an excellent political strategist. He has always had great instincts. But when he announced, my only thought was: He doesn't do things without a great deal of planning a great deal of thought. And so I thought he knew how he was going to win.

AB: Should be banking industry make more of an effort to be part of the two political conventions?

WB: The effect of the Congress and the administration on the banking industry is so powerful right now that we have to be a part of the process of electing the President. We have to know what is going on.

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