Times have changed for the D.C. Bankers Association, which for decades has held its annual convention at The Homestead resort here.
Yesterday, during its 68th convention, the association voted itself out of business. Then, joined by officials from eight of metropolitan D.C.'s savings and loans, the bankers created a new group to represent all financial institutions in the metropolitan area.
The new alliance -- the Greater Washington Financial Institutions Association -- symbolizes the brisk and radical changes that have typified all financial industries in recent years.
"I suggested this union years ago, but the bankers wouldn't listen, didn't want us 'white socks' guys from the S&Ls," said Thomas Owen, chairman of Perpetual Savings Bank of Alexandria, the giant savings-and-loan-turned-savings-bank that is one of the new association's charter members.
Sartorially, the taste of those attending this ritual bash still runs to lime green or patchwork madras pants. White socks are out -- except on the courts and links -- and golfing pants are often worn sockless with loafers or topsiders.
"That's the old banking gentry," quipped one savings and loan executive.
But even the dress code is changing, being dictated by power rather than social pretense: Mayor Marion Barry addressed the crowd Thursday wearing a tan leisure suit accented with a gold necklace and matching bracelet.
Times have changed. Nowadays, a person needn't be in the social register to be counted among the top brass of the local banking community. Nowadays, as technology and deregulation augment competition and erode distinctions between banks and thrift institutions, what counts is marketing savvy, adaptability and a talent for earning profits.
The new association, which has 26 members, replaces both the D.C. Bankers Association and the Metropolitan Washington Savings & Loan League.
"Things will never be the same," said Webb C. Hayes IV, president and chief executive of Palmer National Bank, commenting on the changes in the marketplace that made the new association necessary.
"It's the end of an era," said Robert C. Mayer, a D.C. attorney. "Ten years ago, you would know everyone who came here to The Homestead and all of their kids. Not now."
At the top of the agenda for the new association is to put on a better, more effective public face. "We don't realize some of the negative attitudes consumers have on issues of consumer rights and consumer rates," said John V. Pollock, newly elected president of the association and president of National Bank of Commerce, which recently was bought by Dominion Bankshares of Roanoke.
"To effectively get our story told, we have to do a better job," he said.