ICBA Convention: Changing with the Times


ICBA’s convention workshops and networking sessions keep evolving to address community banker and industry developments

By Beth Mattson-Teig

ICBA Community Banking Live 2014Convention Schedule at a Glance

Saturday, March 1 (preconvention)

  • Registration/Banquet Desks Open
  • Habitat for Humanity

Sunday, March 2

  • Registration/Banquet Desks Open
  • First-Time Attendee Orientation*
  • Bank Director Current Issues Seminar**
  • CEO Compliance Seminar **
  • Exhibit Hall Open
  • Welcome Reception in Exhibit Hall
  • Theme Party

Monday, March 3

  • Registration/Banquet Desks Open
  • Exhibit Hall Open
  • Concurrent Workshops
  • Tours**
  • Lunch with Exhibitors
  • State/Regional Partners & Exhibitor Receptions*

Tuesday, March 4

  • Registration/Banquet Desks Open
  • General Session
  • Concurrent Workshops
  • Tours**
  • ICBPAC Silent Auction**

Wednesday, March 5

  • Registration/Banquet Desks Open
  • General Session
  • Concurrent Workshops
  • Tours**
  • Chairman’s Reception
  • Annual Banquet and Show

Thursday, March 6

  • Depart

*by invitation
** additional registration fees required

Community bankers have spent the past few years with their heads down, doing their best to make it through a tough economic and regulatory climate. Now that community bankers are once again looking to plan for future growth, the workshops at the ICBA Community Banking Live 2014 annual convention are geared to help you do just that.

One of the best phrases to describe what’s in store for this year’s convention-goers is that “this isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile,” notes Chris Lorence, ICBA executive vice president and chief marketing officer. His statement recognizes that the community banking industry is evolving and that ICBA is evolving along with it. As such, this year’s convention offers a greater focus on delivering new concepts, new ideas and new opportunities.

ICBA has made a point to expand on the breadth and depth of its workshop offerings with nine different educational tracks that span more than 45 individual sessions. “Overall, we have added more balance,”

Lorence says. In the past, the educational workshops at the convention tended to focus more heavily on products and conversations for the C-Suite. This year’s convention workshops have a wider scope with more depth. For example, when a workshop looks at a particular product, it also expands that content to look at other factors, such as how that product might affect a community bank’s profitability and how that product can help a bank keep its best customers.

“We’re making the workshops more enriching and cover more during the time that we have the bankers with us,” Lorence says.

This year’s workshop content also focuses on what community bankers want and need to know for the future. Now that the economy is improving, more community bankers are interested in planning for the future and are more forward-looking on a variety of fronts, ranging from information on managing social media to exploring new lending opportunities and products and services. To support those efforts, ICBA continues to bring best-in-class speakers and instructors to its convention workshops.

“We’re making the workshops more enriching and cover more during the time that we have the bankers with us.”
—Chris Lorence, ICBA executive vice president and chief marketing officer

“What I have seen in the last 12 months is a major change among community bankers looking for opportunities instead of just dealing with regulatory problems and how to eke out a profit,” says Jeffrey Gerrish, chairman of the board at Gerrish McCreary Smith PC in Memphis. “Now a lot of banks are trying to figure out how best to allocate their capital.” Bankers are exploring ways to enhance the value for their shareholders, and in the process, looking for opportunities to deploy that capital. Some banks are restating dividends and increasing distributions, buying back stock to create liquidity for shareholders or even discussing mergers and acquisitions.

Gerrish will be leading a workshop for C-Suite attendees that discusses “The Community Bank’s Success Guide: How to be Successful in the Future.” “One of the things we like to bring to the convention is a national perspective of what’s going on among community banks,” he says, pointing out that he and his partners do about 80 planning sessions with community banks annually all over the country.

Targeting a wider audience

ICBA initiated changes to its workshop format last year and continues to expand on those programming efforts. For example, rather than offering a track only for CEOs, ICBA broadened that category to include C-Suite management, which also encompasses CFOs, CIOs and bank directors, as well as other senior management. One C-Suite session being presented this year is “Hot Topics in Banking,” led by CliftonLarsonAllen LLP in Minneapolis.

“Our topic will be broad-based enough that it will cover a variety of topics that CEOs, presidents and senior management will be able to gather information from on a variety of different aspects,” says Neil Falken, principal in the firm’s financial institutions group.

One of the hot topics Falken will be covering will be the proposed change to the methodology in which banks compute their allowance from loan and lease losses. The session also will focus on other proposed accounting changes and discuss the impact of Basel III, as well as touch on other topics outside of accounting, such as regulatory compliance, IT and information security.

“Our approach has changed a little bit in relation to the recent economic times,” he says. “We’re trying to make this information relevant for community bankers to meet the ever-changing regulatory accounting standards to help them make a smooth transition into some of those changes and also make their bank, hopefully, more operationally efficient as they look into the future.”

Zeroing in on hot topics

Presenters make a concentrated effort to bring community bankers the latest information and insights on timely topics ranging from capital planning to interest rate risk management. “We have an ever-evolving list of subject matter to discuss with new regulations, new strategies changes in interest rates and how Fed monetary policy impacts the performance of investment portfolios,” says Jim Reber, president and CEO of ICBA Securities in Memphis.

“What I have seen in the last 12 months is a major change among community bankers looking for opportunities instead of just dealing with regulatory problems and how to eke out a profit.”
—Jeffrey Gerrish, industry consultant

Reber and his team will be leading three workshops related to interest rate investment products and how to lessen interest rate risk, including “Inflation-Proof Your Portfolio: Strategies for Rising Rates”.
Certainly, one of the hot topics that will be addressed this year will be how to prepare for interest rate hikes. “An undercurrent in a lot of bankers’ minds these days is inflation and that it might start picking up,” Reber says. That is especially critical given the fact that the investment portfolios of community banks have never been bigger. Investment portfolios are about 50 percent larger than they were five years ago, he adds. Therefore, those portfolios have a bigger impact on profitability.

Another change that was introduced in 2013 was the addition of a new track “Your Bank, Your Brand & Social Media.” That track has been significantly expanded for 2014, going from two to five different workshops offered on a variety of topics related to how banks can leverage social media and marketing. Again, those presentations will have a particular eye to the future with topics that address the retail branch in 2020, as well as how to manage a changing workforce that spans three distinct generations—baby boomers, Generation X and millennials.

Expo DaysSunday, March 2
Monday, March 3

Expo Opportunities
Visiting the Expo trade show at ICBA Community Banking Live is an opportunity to experience the largest trade show for community bankers in the world. More than 150 companies will be exhibiting and demonstrating their latest products and services specifically for community banks.

This year’s Expo will provide new opportunities to learn best practices and network with professional exhibitors who have the experience and expertise to answer questions and offer one-on-one product demonstrations.

For more information about Expo and the companies exhibiting, visit www.icba.org/convention2014.

One of the keys to preparing community banks for the future is understanding that the bank customer is changing. Small businesses, for example, are becoming a lot more sophisticated. A sole proprietor could operate their whole business from an iPad.

“Small businesses everywhere now need to use technology not only be more nimble and efficient, but also to project a technologically sophisticated impression when they sit down with that potential customer. Giving a technologically knowledgeable impression is the new standard in the business world, but the good thing is that technology also empowers small businesses to easily meet this expectation.”

“We need our community banks to recognize that they too need to be more sophisticated when they sit down with that potential customer,” Lorence says. So with workshops such as “Managing a Changing Workforce,” for example, ICBA is striving to educate community bankers on the different generations both within the workforce and within their customer base, he adds.

In addition to the latest trends and ideas, ICBA convention workshops will continue to focus on core fundamentals of the business, such as regulatory, compliance and lending. “There are so many important pieces that are involved in running a community bank that we have to continue to add new facets to that education because community banking is getting much broader,” Lorence says.

Beth Mattson-Teig is a writer in Minnesota.