Changing Times
Insights - July 2021

Internal Links Bruce Whitehurst

Come gather round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
-Bob Dylan, 1964

A decade ago, as we were recovering slowly from the Financial Crisis and the Great Recession, then VBA Chairman Charley Majors of American National Bank proposed a theme for the VBA Annual Convention: “The Times They Are A-Changin’”, with a nod to Bob Dylan’s truly timeless song. While we knew our country and our industry still had a way to go toward a full economic recovery, by 2011 there was sustainable economic growth and we could glimpse better days ahead.

Now at the mid-point of 2021, we again see better days in front of us, with the optimism – if not exuberance – we feel from just being able to gather, in-person, and without masks, for all who are fully vaccinated. It’s understandable why some are suggesting that we may repeat the Roaring Twenties of a century ago after the Spanish Flu had constrained social gatherings much like COVID-19. Let’s just hope that if we do have a boom time – both socially and economically – we don’t also repeat the bust that followed!

Another past VBA Chairman, Gary Shook, often talks about the two most important words to live by: Adaptable and Flexible. We certainly have seen the true meaning of these two words over the past year, as we have all made rapid and necessary changes to how we live, work and engage with each other. At the VBA, being adaptable and flexible included taking live events virtually, exploring hybrid events and now taking events back to in-person. We also took Virginia Banking to a monthly digital format, while adding Virginia Banking Annual, which will be out soon to recap the last year in the life of the VBA and the Virginia banking industry.

We have all learned a new meaning for the word Zoom, and Teams now means a virtual platform in addition to a group of people working together toward a common goal. Conference calls – remember them? – now seem “so yesterday” in terms of technology, don’t they?

All aspects of how we live and work have been challenged and changed, without a doubt, so Bob Dylan – now 80 years old, with the newer title of painter in addition to singer/songwriter – remains as relevant with his 1964 song as he was the day he wrote it.

Yes, the times they are a-changin’, even faster than we ever thought possible in 2011.