Gregory Derderian serves as executive vice president, chief financial officer and director of strategic analysis for BankNewport. He was recently elected president of the Rhode Island Bankers Association.
PBN: What does your new role with the R.I. Bankers Association entail? How does this complement your job at BankNewport?
DERDERIAN: My primary responsibility as RIBA president will be to work on behalf of our entire membership and ensure that they are made aware of regulatory and legislative issues that may affect the banking industry and their operations here in Rhode Island. Key to this is ongoing advocacy efforts at both the state and national level.
This new role with RIBA is not unlike my role as executive vice president and chief financial officer at BankNewport, where I need to be aware of pending regulations and legislation and how that will impact the products and services we offer or our regulatory capital.
PBN: What do you believe makes you the best person to preside over RIBA?
DERDERIAN: RIBA has strong representation from large national banks to small community banks that operate within our state. Every representative from these institutions is actively engaged at our meetings, responds quickly to requests for feedback on pending legislation and advocates on behalf of the banking industry in Rhode Island.
Any one of these individuals that I work alongside are well-qualified to become an officer of the association and move up the ranks to president. I am honored that the membership selected me to lead at this time and I will encourage others to consider this same opportunity as my term comes to an end.
PBN: What are your top three priorities as the association’s new president?
DERDERIAN: My areas of focus are around education, advocacy, and ensuring our federal and state elected leaders are aware of not only the banking industry’s impact to the overall Rhode Island economy but also toward statewide philanthropic efforts.
As of RIBA’s latest annual Fact Sheet, the Rhode Island banking industry provided $1.6 billion in residential mortgages and $652 million in small-business loans throughout our state.
In addition, our industry employs over 10,000 fellow Rhode Islanders and has contributed more than $6.8 million to local nonprofit organizations. Those same Rhode Island employees also volunteered 117,000 hours to many worthwhile causes. Again, that is just in one year.
PBN: What are some of the biggest challenges facing members of RIBA, including BankNewport?
DERDERIAN: I believe one of the biggest challenges facing our members here in Rhode Island relates to the lack of large corporations willing to invest in the state and provide higher-paying jobs. Too often, we hear these corporations cite lack of workforce talent and housing affordability as reasons for not considering our state. We all know college graduates who have left Rhode Island to move to Boston, New York and beyond to pursue careers in their degrees.
This lack of business investment then leads to little, if any, growth in population. This can have a negative impact on financial institutions [that] rely on deposits that they can lend out in the form of local mortgages and business loans. To help combat this, RIBA continues to work with our state leadership to create educational programs specifically for the banking industry, including Fundamentals of Banking and Fundamentals of Commercial Lending. In addition, many of our member banks work with local communities and school systems to provide financial literacy programs – this outreach has already exceeded over 10,000 school children and adults.
PBN: What do you consider the biggest success story of the association in recent years?
DERDERIAN: One of RIBA’s major accomplishments over the past few years involved an initiative creating a “Women in Banking” forum. The initiative is designed to support member banks in attracting more women to the banking profession and developing more female industry leaders, assisting them in achieving their professional goals and career potential, as well as increasing the involvement of women bankers in public/community service.
The goal of the program is accomplished through education and professional-development offerings, networking and other tools used to augment bank training initiatives. Our 2020 program is in the developmental stage, however RIBA’s 2019 Women in Banking event centered on leadership, creating opportunities, developing talent and embracing innovation.
Nancy Lavin is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at Lavin@PBN.com.
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