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ABA: The American Bankers Association

Rob Nichols

President and CEO

Rob Nichols is the president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, the voice of the nation’s $23.7 trillion banking industry and the only organization that represents banks of all sizes and charters in Washington.

Since joining ABA in August 2015, Nichols has led ABA's advocacy efforts, working to ensure that banks of all sizes operate in a policy environment that allows them to best serve their customers and communities. In 2018, Nichols led ABA's successful efforts to win passage of the first major banking bill in nearly a decade. Among other things, the bipartisan legislation modified rules for community banks originally intended for larger institutions.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nichols and ABA played a critical role in helping banks navigate unprecedented challenges. ABA resources and advocacy helped banks of all sizes rapidly deliver 90 percent of the $800 billion Paycheck Protection Program, the largest economic rescue plan ever deployed for the private sector, protecting more than 80 million Americans from job loss. The banking industry's efforts helped limit the pandemic's effects on the U.S. economy.

As ABA's president and CEO, Nichols has advanced a number of industry-wide initiatives. In 2019, Nichols encouraged all banks to offer low-cost, easy-to-use Bank On-certified accounts. The effort has been credited with helping reduce the number of unbanked in the U.S. to its lowest level ever. And ABA's award winning #BanksNeverAskThat public education campaign has won national recognition for empowering consumers to spot scams before they can do harm.

As the leader of one of Washington’s largest trade association workforces, Nichols has reshaped ABA's workplace. Since 2018, ABA has been certified as a Great Place to Work by independent analysts, and in 2022, Nichols moved ABA into a contemporary, collaboration-focused new office adapted for hybrid teams. Under his leadership, ABA has gender parity within the executive leadership team, and ABA hired its first external facing diversity, equity and inclusion expert to help banks expand their DEI programs.

From January 2020 – January 2023, Nichols served as chairman of the International Banking Federation, whose members include the national banking trade associations representing every major financial center.Nichols joined ABA following 10 years at the helm of the Financial Services Forum, a nonpartisan economic policy and advocacy organization whose members are the chief executive officers of the largest and most diversified financial institutions doing business in the United States. During his time at the Forum, Nichols led the industry through the financial crisis and the Dodd-Frank Act, guiding his members and the broader banking sector in its policy response and the law’s implementation.

Before joining the Forum, Nichols served in the George W. Bush administration as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department a position requiring confirmation by the United States Senate.  In this role, he acted as chief spokesperson and head of the office of public liaison, serving as Treasury’s lead representative with the media, business, professional trade organizations, consumer groups and the public.

Prior to that he worked as communications director to the late Sen. Slade Gorton and press secretary to the late Rep. Jennifer Dunn. He began his career in public service in the West Wing as a White House aide in the George H.W. Bush administration.

Nichols is a recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Award, the highest honor of the Department of the Treasury. He also is consistently named as one of the most influential people in Washington by Washingtonian, and one of Washington's top lobbyists by The Hill. He has been described as one of the “new generation of trade group CEOs” by the Washington Post.

Nichols serves on the board of governors of FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) and is a Corporate Advisory Council member at Children’s National Hospital.

He is a graduate of the George Washington University and lives in the Washington area with his wife and two children.


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