Amalgamated Bank recently had the honor of hosting the 2023 Global Alliance of Banking on Values (GABV) Annual Meeting from April 17-20, 2023.
This bustling event brought together leaders of values-based banks from around the world to connect, share ideas, and learn from one another. With the central theme being "Banking on a bolder future," this energy encapsulated the shared purpose of the attendees focused on building a more just and equitable world.
The gathering also signified Amalgamated Bank's centennial year celebration, highlighting that by pursuing a socially responsible approach to banking, institutions like Amalgamated Bank can stand the test of time and remain a force for good in the world.
This longevity and continued dedication to social responsibility are a testament to the power of values-based banking in shaping a better future for all.
The first day saw attendees gathered at the Amalgamated Bank headquarters in the heart of New York City. The opening party was held at the spacious Martin Luther King meeting room, transformed into a chic lounge and networking area. All were treated to tote bags filled with GABV and centennial branded merchandise to kick off the night.
Attendees mingled and networked while enjoying hors d'oeuvres and an open bar; the event saw great conversations unfold from leaders as far away as Uganda and Bangladesh to other USA-based organizations and across the pond from the UK. The inaugural speech featured remarks from President and CEO Priscilla Sims Brown and David Reiling, the CEO of Sunrise Bank. The two speakers set the tone for the conference, emphasizing the importance of building a brighter and more equitable future through values-based banking.
The opening night of the GABV conference showcased the power of bringing together leaders in the banking industry to discuss the future of finance and left attendees with a positive mindset for the week ahead.
The second day of the annual meeting witnessed captivating panel discussions featuring influential CEOs of banks from around the globe. Hosted at Salesforce in Bryant Park, attendees enjoyed the spacious and bright event space, taking breaks for lunch and snack in between events.
The first keynote speaker was the distinguished Chelsea Clinton, former First Daughter, philanthropist, and Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, delivering a thought-provoking talk titled “Why Banks and Partnerships Matter: Finding Pathways to Positive Change in Times of Disruption.”
Chelsea highlighted how banks could advance positive change by partnering with healthcare companies to empower the unbanked, who often lack access to quality medical care. In response to a query on how young people can lead a life of purpose, Chelsea advised that we all try “to fix the work you think is important in the world - instead of yielding that space to someone else, and show who should be empowered and be in the room.”
The second discussion, “CEO Perspective on the State of the World,” featured Amalgamated Bank’s President & CEO Priscilla Sims Brown; Luis Felipe Derteano, founder of GABV in Peru; Maria Flock-Åhlander, CEO of Ekobanken in Sweden; Paul Thomas, CEO of ESAF Small Finance in India; and Fabian Kasi, CEO of Centenary Bank in Uganda.
The session delved into the challenges faced by the banking industry and how leaders can rise above these and embrace a more empathetic and aware approach. Priscilla emphasized the importance of collaboration, noting that “It’s incumbent for us to think about the intersectionality of issues and embrace the problem that everything is interconnected… If you don’t talk to each other, you can’t create change.”
The panel's profound insights sparked a wave of enthusiastic networking and further discussions among the participants for the remainder of the day.
As the GABV annual meeting entered its third day, the atmosphere was electric as attendees eagerly anticipated the highly anticipated centennial party to be hosted that night. The day's events were held once again at Salesforce.
In the morning, a talk in the meeting room focused on how CEOs and their Boards can collaborate with each other. The session featured top-notch executives from banks from around the world , including Glendell Jones, Jeroen Rijpkema, Judith Downes, and Selim Hussain. Jeroen, the CEO of Triodos Bank in the Netherlands, provided insight into how to establish trust between a board and CEO: "Discuss with each other as partners, know when to step back, and take emotion out of the discussion."
The day's events were not limited to conference rooms, as some attendees went on Learning Journeys to witness firsthand the innovative and impactful work being done to reduce income inequality and the racial wealth gap.
In the evening, the highly anticipated centennial party began, with attendees mingling over catered food with a New York City theme and drinks in an exquisite event space with stunning views of the city. Speeches from notable persons of interest, including Edgar Romney Jr., Chief Revenue Officer of Amalgamated Bank, and NYC Comptroller Brad Lander, added to the party's upbeat energy.
Brad Lander affirmed that "If you are investing with the values of the working people, then you’re taking the long-term view of the city and the planet that we live on," predicting that in the future, "when they say, ‘Who was the bank that led the way?’, they’ll say it was Amalgamated Bank."
Priscilla concluded remarks with a toast: "To the changemakers!"
Overall, day three was an exciting blend of learning and fun, and attendees left the event feeling inspired and energized to continue doing good and driving positive change through the power of banking.
The fourth and final day was filled with inspiring discussions and plans for a more equitable future. The day began with an icebreaker where attendees were encouraged to connect with their neighbors and share their favorite moments from the previous day's events.
The keynote speaker, Marc Morial, President & CEO of the National Urban League, delivered an impassioned speech on the importance of equity in the economy and workforce. Morial noted, “The idea that we can see economic growth but not improvements in poverty and unemployment rates is a moral question for the leaders of the world. When we gather and talk about economies, we have to centralize how economic growth can and should be more inclusionary.” He proposed three ways to re-engineer the system and incentive structure for the 21st century: 1. Access to capital; 2. Guaranteed income; and 3. Investing in people. “No one should live with the indignity of extreme poverty,” he emphasized.
Morial urged the audience to be "good troublemakers" and to listen to the next generation, saying "Young people want to deploy their talent at places that reflect their values. If you have interns, sit in a room with them, and encourage them to talk, think, and disagree."
CEOs then headed upstairs for a deep conversation on how they could collaborate as a movement. After lunch, attendees departed for their home cities and countries, but the day's talks continued with the annual general meeting, which covered logistical issues such as strategy, board elections, and budgets.
The event concluded with the symbolic passing of the stick from Amalgamated Bank’s Priscilla Sims Brown to Dario Brollo of Banca Etica, which will host next year's GABV conference in Italy. Brollo, Head of Institutional Relations at Banca Etica, closed with a celebratory invitation to attendees, saying "It is my pleasure to invite all of you to Italy next year. Let's save nature, give opportunities to people, and combat inequalities together!"
The Next 100 Years
Amalgamated Bank thanks all attendees for traveling to New York City to enjoy the annual meeting with a diversity of perspectives that could only have been brought together in this forum.
As the banking industry continues to evolve, it’s encouraging to see a growing number of institutions prioritizing people and planet.
With the next 100 years in mind, it's crucial to consider the impact of banking. We invite you to think about the question: “What will the next 100 years bring?”