Tioga State Bank’s President and CEO Robert M. Fisher has been elected Chairman of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA).
The fifth-generation community banker said he is honored to serve as the chairman during this important stage of the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Community banks stepped up more than ever over the past year with their unwavering support to their customers through PPP lending, and I’m proud to continue ICBA’s efforts to ensure their important work continues for the benefit of Americans nationwide,” Fisher said.
The organization is the national trade association for the roughly 5,000 community banks that are scattered throughout the country. During his four-year term as chairman, Fisher will travel to meet bankers from all over the United States, something he looks forward to now that travel is safer due to the COVID-19 vaccine.
On June 10, Fisher had just returned from a trip to Utah and Idaho.
“I did a lot of travel in 2019, speaking at different conventions, and then COVID happened and everything came to a standstill,” he said. “Virtually, with Zoom, I didn’t get the interaction of meeting people face to face. One of the perks is the opportunity to network and meet some great people.”
The nationwide connections come in very handy when the bank is faced with a challenge, he added. For instance, being connected to different bankers across the country helped Tioga State Bank to be successful during the Paycheck Protection Program rollout. At the time, the bank was getting a lot of different information on how to proceed from a number of different sources.
“It was rough in those first couple of weeks,” Fisher said. “A lot of the success is due to the networking and guidance and feedback from other bankers.”
Tioga State Bank issued 540 Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling about $42 million and saving about 6,000 jobs in the first round. In the second round the bank facilitated 320 loans for about $32 million.
It is that kind of success story, where the bank is able to help local people and businesses, that has kept Fisher interested in community banking—something he never planned on pursuing as a child or high school student.
“My dream was to be a pilot in the Air Force,” Fisher said. “But I found out in college that I did not have 20/20 vision, and that’s a prerequisite for the Military Air Force.” He navigated from the ground for the Air Force for several years, then decided that the constant relocating required for the job was not for him. He and his wife came back to the Southern Tier, where he joined the family business his great great great grandfather M.D. Fisher started in 1884.
Twenty-nine years later, he still has a passion for community banking, even as (or maybe in part because) he has seen the number of community banks in the United States dwindle from 14,000 in 1992 to just 5,000 today.
“I see the positives that we do for our communities,” Fisher said.
Fisher served on the on the ICBA from 2007 to 2011 and is also a current member and former chairman of the Independent Bankers Association of New York State.
In addition to his banking affiliations, Fisher serves as chairman of the Lourdes Ascension Hospital board in Binghamton and sits on the board of the Pursuit, formerly known as the New York Business Development Corp.
Tioga State Bank, N.A. provides financial services to the Southern Tier of New York State and Northern Pennsylvania with eleven conveniently located offices in Broome, Tioga, Chemung and Tompkins counties.