Banking Lights, Digital camera, Advocacy | ABA Banking Journal

Lights, Digital camera, Advocacy | ABA Banking Journal


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By Evan Sparks

On Saturday, April 4, 2020, Jim Rieniets stands in a convention room at Nashville-based Insbank and appears at a video digital camera.

“Members of our crew are working diligently to entry the Small Enterprise Administration’s methods” to make Paycheck Safety Program loans, he says. “To get these funds distributed as shortly as everybody would really like is akin to consuming water from the discharge of a hydroelectric dam.”

The tone grows critical as Rieniets reminds viewers in regards to the sacrifices made by Individuals in earlier generations throughout wartime and financial despair. “COVID-19 is a conflict. We’re preventing an opponent that’s threatening our lives and our lifestyle. In that vein, I encourage everybody to grasp that all of us might want to make sacrifices and do issues to assist each other,” he says.

How does this apply to PPP? “Within the first few days, demand will overwhelm the system,” he warns. “I encourage companies that haven’t already needed to furlough staff to pause and permit these companies which have needed to shut their doorways to be the primary recipients of those loans.” Rieniets grabs a bundle of bathroom paper and hugs it to his chest. “You don’t need to be the man or gal who’s shopping for or hoarding rest room paper when you’ve gotten a lot in your closet already!”

The mix of empathy, results-orientation and good humor on show characterize not simply Rieniets’ response to COVID-19 however his complete profession in Tennessee banking.

‘The pandemic’s nonetheless right here’

Rieniets is spending 2020-21 as chair of ABA’s Authorities Relations Council, working with ABA’s employees and board to develop the affiliation’s advocacy priorities in a brand new atmosphere with a Democratic presidency and Congress—albeit a Congress with slim partisan margins that may be anticipated to drive bipartisanship on main laws.

Prime on the precedence listing is ongoing pandemic aid, together with a number of provisions achieved within the December COVID-19 aid bundle—streamlined Paycheck Safety Program forgiveness amongst different PPP enhancements, extension of vital provisions on troubled debt restructurings and different pandemic-related aid and extension of the present anticipated credit score loss implementation date.

“We might have all hoped that might have come and passed by now,” says Rieniets. “Nicely, the pandemic’s nonetheless right here, and these PPP loans are nonetheless sitting on financial institution stability sheets.” 9 months after he cautioned shoppers doing OK to carry again in making use of for PPP loans, he stories that a few of these shoppers are nonetheless doing simply effective, describing the ends in Nashville as a “blended bag.” Insbank shoppers in core Nashville companies like leisure, tourism and hospitality are experiencing challenges, however the impact of social distancing and stay-at-home orders has fallen irregularly.

“If you happen to’re a high-end steakhouse within the downtown district, you’re having a tough time of it,” Rieniets says. “If you happen to’re a barbecue restaurant and your meals nonetheless tastes good after it’s been in a Styrofoam container for 45 minutes, you’re doing fairly nicely.”

In the meantime, Nashville continued to see in-migration from throughout the nation. Over the previous a number of many years, the Music Metropolis wasn’t nearly music and tourism—it developed a diversified skilled economic system pushed by well being care, know-how, manufacturing and publishing, attracting company headquarters like CVS Caremark, Bridgestone and Amazon’s future third-largest U.S. company base. “Corporations have been persistently opting to increase to Nashville. That’s put lots of gasoline behind the expansion right here,” says Rieniets.

The company development has been symbiotic with inhabitants development—the Nashville metro is dwelling to almost two million residents, up 23 % previously decade and practically 50 % since Insbank was based in 2000. That’s continued in 2020 as residents left stricter coastal areas for bigger houses and a extra business-friendly atmosphere in center Tennessee, Rieniets says.

Past the response to the pandemic, Rieniets sees a number of different points on the desk for 2021, together with hashish banking, which is predicted to be addressed by the Democratic Congress. Rieniets describes it as a public security subject in states which have licensed numerous makes use of for marijuana. “Whatever the approach bankers might or might not take into consideration this subject, they need to see a decision to what we see as an actual problem,” he says. “We stay up for seeing some headway.”

Different problems with focus will embrace brokered deposit reform and insurance policies affecting environmental, socially accountable and company governance, or ESG-related, investments. “We’re going to be working with the administration on greatest practices and guidelines of the sport for the way we tackle these points.”

Rieniets provides that bankers mustn’t worry the political realignment in Washington. “No matter what you suppose politically, in case your crew shouldn’t be in cost, you at all times suppose it’s going to be worse than it’s,” he says. “That’s one thing I’m fast to level out to bankers who’ve expressed concern a few change within the stability of energy.”


He brings first-hand expertise to the financial institution advocacy area, having beforehand chaired authorities relations actions for the Tennessee Bankers Affiliation. “Seeing a few of these challenges is what first spurred me to get entangled on the state degree,” he says. There, he efficiently championed elder monetary abuse prevention laws that allowed banks to delay suspicious transactions, notify shut relations of any issues and refuse to just accept acknowledged powers of lawyer when elder monetary exploitation is suspected. The regulation turned a mannequin for different states.

Rieniets additionally performed a job in stopping unfavorable laws—an advocacy process equally vital to supporting good payments. His profitable efforts included blocking payments or eradicating provisions that might drastically enhance the state’s homestead exemption quantity and that might take away banks’ lien precedence on industrial development tasks, says TBA President and CEO Colin Barrett.

“Jim has been an outspoken and efficient advocate on behalf of the banking business all through his profession,” provides Barrett. “He’s a scholar of the business with data of banking laws and laws is second to none. Jim’s management of the TBA authorities relations efforts in Tennessee moved significant laws by the state’s Normal Meeting and I do know he can have the identical impression in Washington.”

For bankers seeking to get entangled in advocacy, Rieniets says to go for it—however for the correct causes. “Do it to the extent you’ve gotten a ardour for it and you take care of it,” he explains. “Don’t do it to attempt to put it on a resume. It received’t do you or your business nicely.”

He provides that bankers ought to put their distinctive experience inside the financial institution to work in advocacy. “Bringing that experience to the group is actually useful,” he says. “How are you going to be handiest? Choose the issues that you realize greatest and lever that experience.”

Constructing experience

After graduating from Vanderbilt, Rieniets started constructing his personal experience as a administration trainee at Nationwide Financial institution of Commerce in Memphis (since merged into SunTrust Banks, now Truist Monetary). He turned a industrial lender after which ran the small enterprise group and correspondent lending group there.

One in all his shoppers in correspondent banking was a board member of a three way partnership working to begin up a brand new financial institution for insurers all through Tennessee. Initially often known as Insurors Financial institution of Tennessee—“a post-Gramm-Leach-Bliley concept that impartial insurance coverage brokers would really like a financial institution to name their very own and refer shoppers to”—the de novo introduced Rieniets on as head of credit score and lending. Rieniets relocated to Nashville together with his spouse, Susie, and their rising household. (Jim and Susie at the moment have three youngsters; two college-aged and one in highschool.)

With $6 million in capital, the financial institution’s unique marketing strategy quickly required a pivot because the much-vaunted integration of banking and insurance coverage by no means noticed the fruition envisioned by many within the late Nineteen Nineties, Rieniets remembers. “If we’re going to do one thing for our shareholders, we’re going to want to shift our enterprise mannequin.”

The financial institution was reborn in 2007 as Insbank, increasing its focus to companies within the about-to-explode Nashville market. “It’s actually develop into a melting pot,” says Rieniets of the expansion in Nashville, which helped gasoline Insbank’s rise to greater than $600 million in property.

However at the same time as Insbank capitalized on the Music Metropolis, it retained its statewide market serving insurers. “One of many early challenges we had of getting this statewide footprint and little or no capital was that we weren’t going to have the ability to construct branches all over the place,” he says. “We have been an early adopter of know-how. We stated, ‘Let’s resist the temptation to develop into a conventional financial institution.’” For instance, the financial institution supplied an ACH conversion product earlier than distant deposit was an choice to scan checks and convert them to ACH funds, and it supplied shoppers an in a single day deposit service by fellow Tennessee-based FedEx.

Whereas Insbank gives shoppers an up-to-date tech suite, the pandemic helped it capitalize on these investments. “The pandemic has taken that pattern that was already taking place and compelled it on everybody,” Rieniets says. Even after some semblance of regular returns, “the day-to-day banking transactions will stay within the digital house,” he provides. “Our financial institution could be an honest instance for what that appears like. Our financial institution doesn’t deal with money or have an ATM. Our financial institution doesn’t have a drive-through.”

Know-how may be a bonus for neighborhood banks, and Rieniets is optimistic in regards to the work-life stability advantages of work-from-home insurance policies. He desires to deliver Insbank’s crew again collectively ultimately—“we’re a agency believer in getting folks collectively in groups to work on tasks”—however Insbank staff have appreciated getting “hours again of their week to do issues they need to do reasonably than spending time on the street” commuting.

And Rieniets has one more reason to get staff and shoppers again collectively: Insbank’s subsequent movie premiere. Rieniets doesn’t solely shoot PPP PSAs—a number of years in the past, he produced a 20-minute video for an Insbank occasion spoofing pre-crisis excesses within the monetary sector. The subsequent video, a parody of The Hangover that spoofed the regulatory response to the monetary disaster, had larger manufacturing values and was much more fashionable. Ultimately, Insbank was renting out an area theater with a number of showings for its productions.

“It turned an outlet to attach with shoppers,” Rieniets says, including that it tells them: “We take our work severely—however not ourselves too severely.”

Evan Sparks is editor-in-chief of the ABA Banking Journal.

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