Planning for Success

Planning for success

By Scott Heitkamp, chairman of ICBA

I hope you all had a great summer. Hopefully, you got some well-deserved R&R following a very busy first half of 2017. We’ll certainly need all the energy we can muster for the fall, which is shaping up to be an incredibly important time for our industry. That’s why you’ll see so many references to grassroots support for the CLEAR Relief Act throughout this issue of Independent Banker.

Advocacy continues to be a hot-button issue for the industry, and we’ll all need to renew our push for sensible regulatory relief as members of Congress return to Washington from their summer recess. But we should also take a moment to pause and look at our own community banks. What is going well? What could we do better? Are we measuring up to our strategic goals? Are we planning for the future?

These are all questions that community bank leaders think about daily (if not hourly), but I encourage you to use this time, as we get back into the groove following the summer months, to really think about what you can do to make your community bank even better. Is it leveraging technology in a new and exciting way? Is it educating your future leaders by sending them to ICBA’s LEAD FWD Summit in November? The opportunities run the gamut.

And that’s how we need to look at these things—as opportunities.

Now is a great time to think about your strategic vision, consider new ideas and see how your community bank stacks up. Take, for instance, succession planning. If you don’t already have a succession plan in place, or don’t even know where to begin, this issue of Independent Banker is for you. Even if you do, I bet you can learn something new. This month’s story on succession planning on page 32 outlines how successful community banks are threading this needle; we even hear from a community bank that is moving from four co-presidents to a single CEO.

If you’re in a real rush, there’s a sidebar that sums it up, with five hallmarks of a truly strategic succession plan.

It’s all truly fascinating from a business perspective—not just in terms of succession planning, which is something that is so pivotal for this time in our industry, but also for technology and other opportunities that can help us better serve our customers and create new ways to be more efficient and robust.

As I travel around the country and meet with ICBA members, I love to hear about all of the ways community banks are planning for the future and making their banks even better. As your ICBA chairman and as a fellow community banker, I know that you are all incredible leaders who want to do what’s right for your community banks, your staff, your customers and the communities you serve.

I’m so proud to be one of you, and I’m so proud that we are all in this together, with ICBA right there with us. Together we can turn any challenge into an opportunity with the right attitude, the right support and the right planning.

R. Scott Heitkamp is president and CEO of ValueBank Texas in Corpus Christi. Follow him on Twitter,