From The Top


The opportunity of learning together

By Bill Loving

Consider this number: 38,000.

That’s how many community bankers throughout the country who last year took advantage of ICBA’s educational conferences, seminars, workshops, online courses and networking events. By any account, that’s an impressive number of people.

Today, change in our industry is coming from all directions, and we all have a string of questions. We’re increasingly pressed not only to do more, but to know more. Nobody has all the answers, and often one answer leads us to more questions. But that’s a blessing as well as a challenge.

We live in increasingly interesting times, where lifelong learning is a necessity for everyone—our employees and directors, our business partners, our customers and ourselves.

Fortunately, that’s why we also have each other. Many answers actually lie within our fellow community bankers who are willing and ready to share them. That’s one important reason why there’s an ICBA, and that reason has never been more important. One intangible but primary benefit of ICBA’s annual conventions, trade shows and conferences—and its many classroom seminars and certification courses during the year—is that we all get to gather and learn from each other.

Just think about ICBA Community Banking Live 2014 taking place in Hawaii next month: Where else can you meet thousands of community bankers and industry experts in one place to exchange ideas and find solutions to practical real-world problems? The smartest and most informed consultants, regulators, vendors and service providers always attend. Not to mention, the event also features ICBA’s premier trade show, Expo, where many of our industry’s service company representatives are not just willing, but eager to teach you and me about the industry’s latest products and services. Amazing!

But invariably, whenever community bankers get together, we always learn as much from each other as we do from any structured educational program. Often the best part of these educational gatherings is that we get a chance to learn from community bankers we’ve never met before, not just those we’ve known for years. That’s also often how we discover what we didn’t know we needed to know.

Industry publications, audio conferences and online courses are staple resources in keeping ourselves and our staff informed. But for any community bank executive, director or senior manager, overlooking the learning that networking with other community bankers provides is a missed opportunity—a huge one.

A lot of community bankers are attending these events. Come join us. I can’t wait to meet you and your colleagues next month in Hawaii, or maybe on the road at another ICBA conference or seminar soon.

Bill Loving is president and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank in Franklin, W.Va.