The Oklahoma Bankers Association has a new president and CEO for the first time in 33 years – but one with a familiar name – when Adrian Beverage assumed the post officially on Saturday, May 1.
Beverage will be moving from his former position as chief of staff, executive vice president and director of government relations for the OBA, where he tracked active legislation and developed grassroots advocacy processes.
He has been with the Association since 2000.
“I am excited and humbled to be granted the opportunity to lead the Oklahoma Bankers Association,” Beverage said. “I look forward to working with banks across our state to strengthen an industry that is vital to the success of all Oklahomans.”
Besides the familiarity that comes with working in the Association for the past 21 years, he will also succeed his father, Roger Beverage, who has been president and CEO since joining the OBA in March 1988.
“I have worked alongside Adrian for more than 20 years and I cannot think of anyone more qualified for this position,” Roger Beverage said. “His experience with research and lobbying for our industry is unparalleled and we have worked together for the past few months to ensure a seamless transition for the OBA and its members.”
Adrian Beverage was selected as the Association’s incoming president and CEO in December 2020 after a nationwide executive search headed by a group of prominent Oklahoma bankers in conjunction with the firm of Schnake Turnbo Frank.
“With our partners at Schnake Turnbo Frank, our 10-member succession committee conducted an objective, dynamic process to select the next president and CEO of the OBA,” said Rick Walker, CEO of Liberty National Bank in Lawton, and also 2020-2021 chairman of the OBA Board of Directors. “After a comprehensive search, we selected a leader who has been a longtime advocate for our member banks and has built strong relationships with our members, legislators and regulators.
“He is a results-oriented, strategic leader who we are confident will navigate through the changes our industry will face in the future.”
The following is an excerpt of a Q&A interview Adrian Beverage recently conducted with the local online news website NonDoc and its reporter Matt Patterson. It is reprinted with permission: visit NonDoc.com for the full interview.
What do you find most interesting about banking in Oklahoma?
During the Paycheck Protection Program, especially early on, many of our banks were having difficulty gaining access to the Small Business Administration portal. It was at no fault of their own as the portal wasn’t able to handle the initial volume of banks nationwide. I’ve always known our banks are competitive, but what I saw during all this was really impressive. There were numerous examples, both in rural and urban markets, where one bank had access to the portal and another didn’t. I heard so many stories where one bank would reach out to the other to help take care of their respective customer. Normally, it would be a great opportunity for one bank to court a new customer, but it didn’t happen. Both banks knew the importance of the Program, and at the end of the day, making sure a customer’s business was able to receive its funds was more important that beating your competitor.
What is it like following such a well-known figure in the banking industry such as Roger Beverage – who also happens to be your dad – as president and CEO of the OBA?
Having the opportunity for 20-plus years to see how he works, especially at the national level, he was known as the guy who could bring all parties together to get things done. What I will appreciate the most is simply having the opportunity to work with my dad for all those years. We’ve had our moments where we didn’t see eye-to-eye on one issue or another, and he would let me know in the way only a father can tell their son he is wrong and the conversation is over. But you could count on one hand the times we had those type of talks.
What trends do you see in banking both in state and nationally?
I believe we will see more mergers and acquisitions in the future, not only in Oklahoma but nationwide. I also think because of COVID, banks had to become even more dependent on technology than they were before the pandemic. These technological advances in banking will only benefit the customer experience.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of the job is when you accomplish a task that benefits a bank, whether it’s a piece of legislation, a rule or new regulatory action. Knowing these changes are going to not only benefit the bank, but also the customer, is very rewarding. I also find it gratifying to see a young banker get involved in the Association and watch them grow and become an incredible banker.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected banking in Oklahoma?
COVID-19 had a significant impact on banking, just like it did on every business. We were deemed an essential business by the government early on and it created quite a few challenges for our banks. Every bank in the state had to come up with a strategy on how they were going to continue providing services while also protecting their employees and customers. While all this was happening, they were also tasked to be the lifeline to one of the country’s largest and most complex programs ever: the Paycheck Protection Program. The best way to sum up the PPP is its the equivalent of building an airplane WHILE it’s flying. The rules and responsibilities of the Program changed daily, if not hourly, and our bankers fought through the bureaucracy of Washington to make sure the funds got to their customers. Customers know at the end of the day that without the banks, their businesses would have been in a really bad place. The pandemic not only provided an opportunity to help those in need, but it was also a chance to strengthen those relationships.
What’s the part of your job that you find most challenging?
The most challenging part of the job, by far, is working with elected officials and federal agencies. With that being said, members of the Oklahoma legislature and our federal delegation are actually great to work with. They are all business friendly and understand the role community banks play in Oklahoma. The folks in Washington who aren’t from Oklahoma, or work for a federal agency that doesn’t know what community banks across the country actually DO for their customers – especially small businesses – are a bit trickier to handle. Rules and regulations that come out of Washington sometimes only make life harder for bank customers and business owners. It’s a constant battle to make sure all those who make the rules understand what the consequences are and who’s really going to be negatively impacted by their decisions.
Is there any legislation that’s out there on the state and national level that might have an impact on banking?
H.R. 1996 (SAFE Banking Act of 2021) is very important, not only to our industry, but to the state. The bill would allow banks to provide services to the marijuana industry without fear of penalties from federal regulators. It would not only allow banks to work with all these businesses, but also permit this in the medical marijuana industry, which would help to build relationships with their local bankers to make their business run smoother and be more profitable. H.R. 1996 passed the U.S. House of Representatives on April 19, so it’s now in the U.S. Senate waiting to be heard.