Grow your banking career virtually with ICBA

Person in a virtual meeting on a laptop

While community bankers are not able to meet physically due to COVID-19, the moment creates new opportunities to connect virtually and grow professionally with fewer time and budget constraints. Next month’s 2020 LEAD FWD Summit is a prime opportunity to network digitally and to learn how to lead more effectively in a time of change.

This year, community bankers from Alaska to New York state have connected—safely—despite the challenges of COVID-19. This was only possible because of virtual Community Banker University events.

As we have all adjusted to work and life during a global pandemic, ICBA and Community Banker University (CBU) have reimagined what their offerings can look like. For the remainder of the year, all CBU training events and institutes will be hosted virtually. You can access these digital events from the convenience of your community bank or home office, or even on the go. This includes courses for CPE credits and certifications.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic upends nearly every facet of business and life, the world has had to rapidly adapt to new needs necessitated by new realities,” says Lindsay LaNore, ICBA group executive vice president and chief learning and experience officer. “At CBU, we, too, have had to pivot, rethink and redesign how we work, how we deliver education and how we can best be of service to the nation’s community banks during this unprecedented time.”

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty in many facets of our lives, at CBU, our need, our focus and our desire is to support community banks.”
—Lindsay LaNore, ICBA

Already in 2020, ICBA’s virtual events have been successful in bridging the physical gap between community bankers across the country, with no travel necessary. For example, a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-money laundering (AML) institute in the spring drew more than 100 participants from 30 different states. About 60% attended from their community banks, while the other 40% were at home. In testimonials afterward, participants said a livestreamed event made it easier to attend while taking care of kids and that actively engaging—rather than being a “dialed-in listener”—was an incredible opportunity. In fact, CBU online course enrollment was already up 173% and 132% in March and April, respectively.

“For many of you for whom travel would have been difficult under normal circumstances due to budget constraints or responsibilities at home, this is a unique opportunity to receive intensive training that will help you grow and flourish in your career,” LaNore says. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused uncertainty in many facets of our lives, at CBU, our need, our focus and our desire is to support community banks.”

A virtual LEAD FWD Summit

The ICBA LEAD FWD Summit is the country’s top leadership conference for community bankers and, like all 2020 CBU events, this year’s summit will be 100% digital. Back for its eighth year, the professional development and leadership conference on Monday, Sept. 21, and Tuesday, Sept. 22, is not a listen-only event.

Even in a digital format, LEAD FWD will involve active participation from attendees across active educational sessions, networking opportunities and even small-group challenges. Here a few highlights to expect this year:

  • Three keynote speakers will open and close each day of the conference, including three separate sessions on Sept. 22.
  • The Code Break Challenge, a live “tabletop” exercise, is back this year. It will challenge small groups to collaborate to solve puzzles.
  • In its second year, LEAD FWD Talks, a TED Talk-style concept, will bring fast-paced 20-minute presentations focused on the latest issues and trends in community banking.
  • A socially distanced LEAD FWD Happy Hour will conclude the first day of the event.

Educational sessions will equip emerging community bank leaders with tools and knowledge to bring back to their institutions. Charles Potts, ICBA’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer, is set to present “Leading Innovation from the Outside,” which will feature advice on innovation initiatives that are worth tackling.

Greyson Tuck and Doc Bodine, Gerrish Smith Tuck’s board member and managing director, respectively, will lead “Making Peace with a Pandemic,” a glass-half-full view of the opportunities presented to community bankers by the pandemic.

Go to to register and to check out the full list of speakers and sessions.

Virtual meeting FAQ

Have questions about virtual events from ICBA and Community Banker University (CBU)? Here are answers to a few common questions about attending a digital or streamed class or conference. Go to for more information on how to best participate in a virtual event.

Q. What can I expect from a virtual seminar, conference or other event?
A. CBU seminars, institutes, conferences and workshops will offer the same blend of learning, connection and fun that you would expect from any in-person ICBA event. We will use the same instructors and breakout sessions, plus a chat feature, polling questions and virtual networking to ensure you feel connected and engaged throughout the event. Participants will receive event materials electronically via their account.

Q. What kind of technology do I need to participate in a virtual event?
A. You need an internet connection and a web browser. A computer with a video camera and built-in microphone is strongly recommended to help facilitate engagement and interaction between participants and speakers.

ICBA events are hosted via Zoom. For security purposes, ICBA sets a password on all meetings to ensure the meeting is protected from hackers. ICBA also enables Zoom’s Waiting Room feature, which allows meeting hosts to keep participants in a digital queue until they are verified and approved to join.

Q. Can other community bank employees join on the same virtual event?
A. Event registration is designed for an individual attendee. However, with no travel expenses, it is more economical and convenient than ever for banks to register more than one employee to attend the same event.

For other questions, go to

Eric Best is deputy editor of Independent Banker.