Snapshots of the Major Trade Groups

Practically every financial institution in the country belongs to at least two trade associations - one national, one state. And quite a few hold multiple memberships.

The associations' offerings vary so widely that it can be hard to remember which does what. To help sort them out, American Banker reporter Debra Cope assembled a guide to some of the leading groups.

The 14 groups profiled below include the eight national associations that focus on broad-based policy issues, as well as a selection of other groups.

American Bankers Association

1120 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036 202-663-5000

Established: 1875 Membership: About 9,000 commercial banks Executive Vice President: Donald Ogilvie

The ABA isn't just the oldest banking trade association - it's one of the oldest trade groups in any field. Sheer size makes the ABA a powerhouse on any issue it takes on. But its very size can sometimes be a disadvantage. Its membership is so diverse that some issues simply defy consensus. The trade group was tortured by divisions over interstate banking in the early 1980s, and by similar schisms on interstate branching today.

Association of Bank Holding Companies

730 15th Street, N.W. Suite 820 Washington, D.C. 20005 202-393-1158 Established: 1958 Membership: About 100 President: Thomas L. "Lud" Ashley

Organized two years after passage of the Bank Holding Company Act. Membership consists mainly of the nation's biggest banking concerns. The association is more homogeneous than the ABA, and thus finds it easier to take firm positions and push them. Much of its influence stems from the personal relationship between Mr. Ashley and President Bush. The two men have been close friends since their days at Yale, when both belonged to the Skull and Bones secret society. Mr. Ashley's office is a stone's throw from the White House, and he visits with the President regularly: by phone, over dinner, and at Kennebunkport. Presumably, banking issues occasionally come up.

Association of Financial Services Holding Companies

900 17th Street, N.W. Suite 500 Washington, D.C. 20006 202-223-6575

Established: 1985 Membership: 40 savings and loan holding companies President: Patrick A. Forte

This lean but efficient group was known until last year as the Association of Thrift Holding Companies. Why the switch? "Half the companies held are not thrifts any more," said President Patrick A. Forte. "They're credit card banks, national banks, nonbank banks." In recent years, the association has orchestrated a string of small legislative and regulatory victories by focusing sharply on nuts-and-bolts matters affecting members' operations... Today's battle: allowing thrifts that convert to national banks to maintain their savings and loan holding company status if they continue to meet the qualified thrift lender test. If regulatory restructuring comes, this group will fight fiercely to keep its members out of the Federal Reserve Board's grasp.

Association of Reserve City Bankers

1710 Rhode Island Ave., N.W. Suite 500 Washington, D.C. 20036 202-296-5709

Established: 1912 Membership: 299 Executive Director: Anthony T. Cluff

Considered the cadillac of trade associations. Only top executives of banks belong. Given its composition, a merger with the Association of Bank Holding Companies can't be ruled out...Holds its meetings in a relaxed atmosphere.

Conference of State Bank Supervisors

1015 18th Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036 202-296-2840

Established: 1902 Membership: 54 state banking regulators, 3,500 state-chartered commercial banks President: James Watt

CSBS is the defender of the dual banking system. Bank regulators alone have the vote in this group, but their influence has lessened as bankers have grabbed a bigger role. About 40% of the 8,500 state-chartered banks belong. As associate members, bankers pay a big chunck of CSBS dues. For supervisors, CSBS provides a Washington voice, regulatory coordination, training, and research. For bankers, "it's mostly philosophical, to support the dual banking system," said James Watt.

Consumer Bankers Association

1000 Wilson Blvd., 30th Floor Arlington, Va. 22209 703-276-1750

Established: 1919 Membership: 700 financial institutions, chiefly banks President: Joe Belew

Fills the retail lending niche as a second association for banks and thrifts. Members include large community lenders, regional banks, and money centers. Offers tight focus on specialized lending disciplines, including home equity, automobile, and student loans. Stretching internationally: last year, CBA members traveled to the Soviet Union; this year, Soviet bankers attended the association's Graduate School of Retail Banking.

Financial Women International

500 North Michigan Avenue Suite 1400 Chicago, Ill. 60611 312-661-1700

Established: 1921 Membership: 17,000 Administrative Director: Susan Resh

The only professional organization devoted to women in the financial services industry... Aims its offerings - professional development and education programs - at managers and supervisors... Dues are inexpensive at $85, and that helps FWI hold members... Founded as the National Association of Bank Women, the group changed its name in 1989.

Financial Services Council

1225 19th Street, N.W. Suite 410 Washington, D.C. 20036 202-785-1500

Established: 1987 Membership: Represents about 25 major bank holding companies, securities firms, insurance companies, and diversified financial firms President: Samuel Baptista

This group entered the world in 1985 as the Mayflower Group, a coalition of big banks and large diversified concerns - like Sears - with interests in financial services...Two years later, in 1987, it organized as a trade group with dues-paying members to unite major financial firms from different industries under one umbrella organization... Its goal: to encourage a restructuring of the financial services industry to permit banks to affiliate with all types of financial and nonfinancial companies....Its president, Sam Baptista, once lobbied for both ABA and VISA, and became the spokesman for the Mayflower coalition while a lobbyist for the American Financial Services Association.

Independent Bankers Association of America

1 Thomas Circle, N.W. Suite 950 Washington, D.C. 20005 202-659-8111

Established: 1930 Membership: 6,000 commercial banks, mostly of small and medium size and mostly from farm states. Executive Vice President: Kenneth Guenther

The Independent Bankers are the wild-eyed radicals of the industry. Their list of recent actions includes opposition to interstate branching and Glass-Steagall repeal, support for life-line banking and government check cashing requirements, and the filing of a Community Reinvestment Act complaint against NCNB Texas. And that's only the recent list. The group displays some of the populist fire you would expect from bankers with close ties to farmers and rural communities.

Institute of International Bankers

299 Park Ave., 38th flr. New York, N.Y. 10171 212-421-1611

Established: 1966 Membership: 240 foreign banks that do business in the United States Executive Director: Lawrence Uhlick

The only U.S.-based association that is made up solely of foreign banks... Was mainly a lunch club until the late 1980s, when foreign banks' presence accelerated in this country... Before the "boom," foreign bankers did no formal lobbying, feeling that they were guests here... This fall, focus is on advocating an "open and fair" regulatory environment for foreign banks... Mr. Uhlick was a lobbyist for J.P. Morgan & Co. before joining the Institute.

National Automated Clearing House Association

607 Herndon Parkway, Suite 200 Herndon, Va. 22070 703-742-9190

Established: 1974, as an arm of the American Bankers Association. Became independent in 1986. Membership: 42 ACH associations serving 15,500 depository instutions President and CEO: Elliott McEntee

NACHA sets the rules that the banking industry follows in making electronic payments. NACHA lays out the types of warranties and guarantees that one bank passes onto another in automated clearing house transactions. Aids in developing new products and services for wholesale and retail customers. Just completed a five-year strategic plan aimed at improving risk management in the banking industry.. It does no lobbying. The president and chief executive, Elliott McEntee, was recruited from the Federal Reserve Board in 1988.

National Bankers Association

122 C Street, N.W. Suite 580 Washington, D.C. 20001 202-783-3200

Established: 1927 Membership: 63 minority-owned commercial banks. Executive Director: Bruce Gamble

Located in the central cities, minority bankers sometimes feel that they have been handed much of the burden of serving the nation's most disadvantaged. As a result, they are in the forefront of opposition to legislative proposals which would require them to cash government checks, a service they feel would fall disproportionately on their shoulders.

National Council of Community Bankers

1101 Fifteenth Street, N.W. Suite 400 Washington, D.C. 20005 202-857-3100

Established: 1983 from merger of the National Savings and Loan League and National Association of Mutual Savings Banks Membership: 350 President and CEO: Mark Riedy

Until last month, the association was known as the National Council of Savings Institutions. But members want to downplay their thrift charters and reposition themselves as community lenders. Dominated by mutual savings banks, which make up two-thirds of the roster. The group's progressive philosophy also attracts some large, healthy savings and loans.

U.S. League of Savings Institutions

1709 New York Ave., N.W. Suite 801 Washington, D.C. 20006 202-637-8900

Established: 1893 Membership: 2,237. Thrifts make up the bulk of the membership (1,962); affiliates, such as lawyers and accountants, make up the remainder. President: Frederick L. Webber

The thrift crisis has claimed one-third of the League's members in the past two years. In response, the largest and oldest thrift association has agressively slashed budget and staff. One casualty: its administrative offices in Chicago, where the League was formerly based, will shut next year. Runoff in membership appears to be slowing, but now a brain drain threatens to sap its once formidable strength. In the past year, the association lost top-notch lawyers Renie Yoshida Grohl and Randall McFarlane to government agencies and laid off chief economist James Christian. Donald Shackelford, a well-regarded Ohio S&L executive who took over as chairman last November, has been drafted to serve an unprecedented second term.

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