WILLIAM J. STANLEY JR. President Connecticut Bankers Association

William J. Stanley Jr. has parlayed an uncommon mix of legislative regulatory, and hands-on banking experience into a high-profile job: president of the Connecticut Bankers Association.

At 38, Mr. Stanley is one of the youngest heads of a state banking association. And nobody expects him to stop there. Elective office or a bank's executive suite could be on his career path.

But Mr. Stanley is the first to admit that he more or less stumbled into a banking career 10 years ago, when he left private law practice in Connecticut to move to Washington as a bank lobbyist.

"I ended up in Washington because I was fascinated with the political process," Mr. Stanley says. "It was one of those serendipitous things."

He landed a job as federal counsel at the American Bankers Association. Representing the ABA before Congress and regulators for four years, he racked up solid experience on consumer, retail, and payment-systems issues.

In 1986, Mr. Stanley returned to his home state to join the legal department of Bank of Boston-Connecticut. In his five years there, he was involved in strategic planning, external affairs, and credit administration.

Since joining the Connecticut Bankers Association July 1, he's drawing on all of his experience.

With many banks in Connecticut reeling from a stagnant economy and the resultant real estate downturn, "we're devoted in large part to helping an industry that's in some distress," he says.

Having been both a banker and a lobbyist comes in handy when he analyzes legislation or regulations. "He's just right on top of everything," says Robert T. Cunningham, past chairman of the state association and president of Salisbury Bank and Trust Co. in Lakeville, Conn.

Mr. Stanley did his undergraduate work at the University of Connecticut, and earned his law degree at the Western New England College School of Law.

Banking is something of a family affair. Mr. Stanley's wife, Susan, is a lawyer at Peoples Bank of Bridgeport, Conn., New England's largest thrift. But their monthly-old son has not yet shown any inclination to follow in his parents' footsteps.

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