Hultgren to lead Illinois Bankers Association

(The Center Square) — A former Illinois Congressman is set to start a new job.

Randy Hultgren has been selected to take over as president and CEO of the Illinois Bankers Association. He’ll succeed Linda Koch, who is stepping down after 18 years in the role.

Hultgren served Illinois’ 14th Congressional District from 2011 through 2019 and previously was a member of the Illinois House and Senate. While in Washington, he served on the House Financial Services Committee.

“I feel like this is sort of this culmination of bringing together all of this experience, all that I’ve learned, all that I’ve worked on in private sector in my career and then also my public service,” Hultgren said. “I’m thrilled and excited to have an impact on the issues that I really care about and working with people that I really enjoy to be able to get good things done.”

The Illinois Bankers Association is a trade association dedicated to advancing a positive business climate for the industry and the communities served by banking institutions.

“I’ve seen over the decades that this is an organization that’s committed to providing opportunity for everybody in Illinois,” Hultgren said. “And that’s really the idea of banks committed to our communities, committed to the American dream, and helping people fulfill that [dream].”

After losing a bid in 2018 to return to Congress, Hultgren has worked as a senior vice president of commercial lending with Wintrust Financial. Hultgren says despite some headwinds, he’s optimistic about the future of banking in the state.

“I am hopeful that we’re going to be able to continue to make sure that Illinois is a place where banks can be, can grow, and can make loans to families and individuals,” Hultgren said. “We need to make sure that our economy is growing. That opportunities are here, that people want to be investing and growing their businesses, moving companies to Illinois rather than moving companies away from Illinois.”

Hultgren said his background, particularly his depth of experience in government and in the financial services sector, makes him a perfect fit for the job.

“It’s this understanding of how to get things done through government, how to be able to provide services to banks, the smallest to the biggest,” Hultgren said. “But then also to know special challenges that banks are going through to be able to look ahead to be proactive on their behalf.”

Considering the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in the state, and the millions of dollars in sales that have come with it, Hultgren said one issue that could be addressed soon is the ease of access that cannabis businesses have to banking services in the state.

“My sense is so much of the work that needs to be done is really just clarification of laws, that whatever local decisions are made we understand how they interact with federal laws as well,” Hultgren said. “And so I do think there’s going to be an ongoing discussion of how do we work this out when different states have made different legal decisions and there’s some overarching federal legislation that potentially conflicts with those local laws.”

Many banks and credit unions won’t work with cannabis-related businesses because cannabis still is illegal under federal law. Differences between federal and state laws mean Illinois institutions could face penalties if they do business with cannabis-related companies authorized under state law.

“How do we make sure that people are safe? How do we make sure that there’s not a huge amount of cash floating around when it needs to be more secure?” Hutgren asked. “But also recognizing that certain states are going to have different decisions than Illinois has had on this issue.”

Hultgren will start with the IBA on April 6 and will assume the role of president and CEO on July 1.

“I’m excited to keep it strong and find ways that we can provide better service and better confidence for customers and more opportunities in every single community,” Hultgren said. “That’s my hope and my goal in joining with the Illinois Bankers Association.”

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