Noah Wilcox: It’s all about connection

Noah Wilcox

“I hope to see you virtually at ICBA Connect. For community bankers, it’s all about that connection.”

Community banking relies on connection. And in today’s digital-first—but Zoom-fatigued—environment, it’s more important than ever that we find new ways to make those connections stick.

At the highest level, customers just want to know we care. At our bank, we’ve been getting creative with how we demonstrate that sentiment. For example, I have told my lending team to call and talk to customers, send handwritten notes or offer small personal gestures that show we’re thinking about them. In these times, we need to double or triple down on that kind of effort to keep the connection alive.

My Top Three

reasons to attend ICBA Connect:

  1. Take a two-day learning retreat with fellow bankers.
  2. Bring your whole team with the bank registration package.
  3. Kick-start your energy, imagination and overall performance.

But it’s not only our customers we need to consider. For instance, my assistant has been with the bank for 46 years. She was my grandfather’s assistant, then my dad’s and now mine; she’s like an extension of our family. So, imagine my surprise when she told me she was worried I had forgotten about her, because we haven’t seen each other much since March. Talk about a lesson learned. We really need to go the extra mile with our teams right now, too, so they remain connected to the bank.

What about other community bankers? When I think back to the start of the pandemic and the corresponding Paycheck Protection Program craze, I realize that I couldn’t have navigated it as well as I did without this network. We were sharing information, offering updates and asking questions of one another on a near-continuous loop. That type of connection helps us build up the business of community banking while inspiring new ideas for our industry.

That’s our goal with ICBA Connect this year: to strengthen the bonds of community banking. ICBA Connect will bring us together virtually in a way that creates a dynamic, collaborative experience. In addition, the sessions will address the emerging issues facing community bankers, including ways we can better click with our teams through creativity, culture and engagement. Plus, it’s virtual, so even more of our team will be able to experience ICBA Connect for themselves.

And what an experience it will be! When we come together as a community of community bankers, there’s no denying the energy. When we work toward a common goal, strategize new ways to solve bank problems, get inspired to look at a topic through a new lens or establish a new relationship, we are at our very best.

So, I hope to see you virtually at ICBA Connect. For community bankers, it’s all about that connection.

Noah W. Wilcox, Chairman, ICBA
Noah Wilcox is president, CEO and chairman of Grand Rapids State Bank and its holding company, Wilcox Bancshares Inc., Grand Rapids, Minn.
Connect with Noah @NWWilcox