Florida Banking December 2023

T he Florida Bankers Association’s beloved “one trick pony,” President and CEO Alex Sanchez, is retiring after 30 years of unparalleled service to the Florida banking industry. Known for his passionate advocacy, even just one conversation with Sanchez results in a better understanding and appreciation for the important role banks play in the economy. Sanchez’s unwavering commitment to the industry transcends his own personal political views and is evident in his oft-repeated phrase, “I’m a one-trick pony. If you like banking, I like you.” Throughout his impressive career, Sanchez has built meaningful relationships with bankers, policymakers, and industry leaders alike, earning their utmost respect and loyalty as he championed the Florida banking industry. “Alex is a committed and dedicated leader with an unparalleled passion for our industry. He, along with the FBA team, have taken the FBA to the next level, as it is now one of the preeminent trade associations in both Florida and Washington, D.C.,” said retired banker and former FBA Chair Kim Davis. “I have enjoyed his friendship through the years and congratulate him on a job well done.” Sanchez joined the FBA in 1993 as the senior vice president of Government Affairs. He had an impressive resume — including five years of military service with the U.S. Air Force and a law degree from the University of Iowa Law School — and an inspiring personal story, having immigrated to the United States with his family when he was only four years old to escape communist Cuba. Sanchez’s parents left behind a comfortable middle-class lifestyle to pursue freedom in the United States, working hard to provide for their children. Sanchez credits his parents for his strong work ethic, his love of learning, and his patriotism. “My parents always said,‘Alex, study. Make sure you get a good education in America, because an education is something the government can never take away from you,’” Sanchez said. Sanchez is the third CEO in FBA’s 136-year history, following venerated leaders Floyd Call and John Milstead, both of whom were also military veterans. When Milstead unexpectedly passed away in late 1997, Sanchez was mentored by interim CEO Bill Hussey and recommended to the board by FBA Chair Charlie Brinkley, who “knew [Alex] was the right person for the job.” Sanchez assumed the role in February 1998. “Alex is a strong leader because of his high energy, drive, and determination,” said Lamar Roberts, retired banker and former FBA Chair. “He successfully led the FBA during the merger of two Florida banking trade associations. The FBA and the Florida banking industry would not be as outstanding as they are today without his leadership.” Sanchez oversaw the association’s historic merger with the Community Bankers of Florida, combining the two banking organizations which resulted in a more powerful political and financial group. He has since led the FBA through trying times like the Great Recession, devastating natural disasters, and, most recently, the

Covid-19 pandemic, demonstrating his commitment to supporting member banks during times of need. “It doesn’t matter the crisis; what matters is that the FBA has to be there for bankers,” Sanchez said. “During the financial crisis, I spoke to every Chamber of Commerce from Pensacola to Key West, explaining to business leaders how our industry was regulated. There was a big backlash at the time against our banks and the aid that was given by the government. During Covid, we were working seven days a week to help our banks gain access to the Small Business Administration portal to upload Paycheck Protection Program loans. We were in contact with our friends in Washington every day.” As CEO, Sanchez’s first goal is to meet and exceed members’ expectations by delivering value. Keeping members informed about the FBA’s efforts is always top of mind. Sanchez prioritizes transparency in communication. “It’s important as an association to tell our story and to tell our bankers what it is that we’re doing on their behalf. They pay a lot of money to belong to the association, and my goal is to deliver value every day,” Sanchez said. Alex Sanchez, Continued on page 16


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