Robert Fisher: Accelerating ahead

Robert Fisher, Chairman ICBA
Photo by Heather Esposito

In today’s marketplace, we can’t be afraid to experiment and fail. Let’s embrace some out-of-the-box, entrepreneurial thinking to attack our problem areas.

When it comes to implementing new technology, community banks have been faced with challenges. For one, we often don’t have the internal bandwidth to build the solutions we want, so we must seek products that exist in the marketplace—and that can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Once we find the right product, it has to integrate into our core systems. And when a product or service doesn’t perform, we may let it limp along instead of sunsetting it.

While these issues present challenges, we are entering a new era, one with much more potential on the horizon. My optimism stems from having participated in the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator program, which delivers best-of-the-best solutions directly to community banks.

My Top Three

In the spirit of technology upgrades, here are my top three must-have devices:

  1. 12.9-inch iPad Pro, my go-to for work travel
  2. Heads-up display (HUD) in my car
  3. Sonos wireless sound system

The accelerator companies understand community banks and how to work with us, because the program directly connects them with community bankers who provide guidance on how to make their products stronger. ICBA evaluates participants with community bank needs in mind, making it easier for community banks looking to partner with them. By the time the companies complete the accelerator, they are ready to go to market with community banks.

While not every accelerator solution is relevant to every bank, the offerings are designed to address our specific pain points. In fact, my bank has signed on multiple companies from the latest cohort to support our efforts. Because of the detailed insights from ICBA, the onboarding process was nominal, and these companies were able to get up and running quickly within our organization.

At Tioga State Bank, we have never been bleeding edge, but we are leading edge. For example, we implemented online banking in 1997 with Jack Henry & Associates when it went live, and we’ve always tried to be first to market with the technology that customers want. Over the years, our tech philosophy has evolved. We’ve come to terms with the fact that not every solution we implement will be a forever product.

In today’s marketplace, we can’t be afraid to experiment and fail. So, as we dive deeper into the digital customer experience in this issue, let’s embrace some out-of-the-box, entrepreneurial thinking to attack our problem areas. To remain competitive, we have to step up and try different things to meet burgeoning expectations. Sure, not every solution will work. But if we don’t try, we’ll never know just how far we can go.


Robert Fisher Chairman, ICBA
Robert Fisher is president, CEO and chairman of Tioga State Bank in Spencer, N.Y.
Connect with Robert @RobertMFisher