The Greatest Show

By Jeff Gerhart

The “Greatest Community Banking Show on Earth” takes place March 11–15 in Las Vegas. The annual ICBA National Convention and Techworld® is a showcase of community banking talent, events, speakers and educational programs that you won’t want to miss.

Becky and I have had the opportunity to attend the ICBA convention through the years, and we can attest to its electrifying atmosphere. As we’ve traveled the country this past year visiting state trade association conventions, we’ve extended personal invitations for all community bankers to join us in Las Vegas.

If you have attended the convention in the past you know what an outstanding event it truly is. But if you haven’t attended lately, let me give you a little personal “behind the scenes” tour. Here is my top-10 list of the convention’s main attractions (in no particular order):

1. Networking—There’s no better place to receive invaluable real-world advice from other community bankers. And through ICBA’s mobile app, community bankers have an extra way to network and share their thoughts and experiences during the convention.

2. Silent auction—This annual ICBPAC fundraiser is one of the best social events at the convention, and the money raised is vital to supporting our community banking cause in Washington, D.C. As I look around our home in Nebraska, I see many items we’ve brought back from the auction, which always provides for a grand evening.

3. Educational sessions—Top-notch industry experts lead dozens of workshops that cover everything from lending and regulation to technology and leadership. This year I’m also looking forward to experiencing ICBA’s revamped and expanded workshop lineup of nine new topic tracks (see feature, page 58).

4. Speakers—Hear from ICBA leadership community bankers as well as nationally renowned speakers who will leave you very inspired.

5. Tours—There are special opportunities to have experiences in Las Vegas or nearby that you will remember all your life.

6. Entertainment—One of the convention’s highlights every year is its closing banquet reception, which this year will feature music from the award-winning a capella group “Manhattan Transfer.”

7. Techworld—This tradeshow is a great opportunity to visit with many exhibitors that offer the products and services that can help your community bank step it up a notch.

8. Habitat for Humanity—If you can arrive a day early, perhaps you can volunteer a few hours to help build or renovate homes for families in Las Vegas. Every year ICBA arranges this local public service activity in the city hosting the convention, and over the years, community bankers have done very impressive volunteer work. It’s a great opportunity to give back. Hey, it’s what we do.

9. Recharge yourself—Reconnect with community bankers you know and meet new bankers as well.

10. The whole grand experience—Now wrap up these nine ICBA convention attractions and you truly have a total package that is the “Greatest Community Banking Show on Earth.”

Oh, by the way, remember: What happens at the ICBA convention in Vegas … you need to take back to your bank and share with your fellow community bankers. What you will learn is sure to benefit not only your bank’s bottom line but also your staff and the communities they serve. And with your bank’s FDIC insurance premium savings from the asset-based assessments that ICBA achieved for community banks three years ago, every community bank can attend the ICBA annual convention.

I hope to see you in Las Vegas. endmark

Jeff Gerhart is president and chairman of Bank of Newman Grove in Newman Grove, Neb.