Rebeca Romero Rainey: Developing innovation strategy

Rebeca Romero Rainey
Photo by Robert Severi

Community banks are independent institutions fueled by the needs of their individual communities, so what constitutes innovation will look and feel different for every bank.

As the popular saying goes, “Creativity is intelligence having fun”—and the same can be said for innovation. As community banks seek to evolve, we bring together the best elements of wise business strategy and out-of-the-box thinking to invent new solutions for a better customer experience. That process, as intense as it can be, is both fun and satisfying, because at its end, we see a product that makes a true difference in the lives of our customers.

That’s why ICBA has focused so intently on innovation strategy over the past few years. From building an internal innovation team to launching programs like the ThinkTECH Accelerator, we have dedicated resources in support of community bank innovation. Our goal is to help you move more quickly toward practical solutions that serve your customers’ needs.

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Where I’ll Be

I’ll be at the annual meeting of the California Community Banking Network. And I’ll be speaking at the Banking & Finance Symposium at Ole Miss.

For example, the accelerator has been structured to take concepts and transform them into fully viable solutions that participants can deliver directly to community banks. We connect community bankers, fintech and regulators as part of this product development. We have these active conversations during product evolution to ensure we answer the hard questions that will take the solution to a marketable level.

We also have to consider the fact that innovation is not one size fits all. Community banks are independent institutions fueled by the needs of their individual communities, so what constitutes innovation will look and feel different for every bank. That’s why ICBA’s programs offer a wide array of solutions. We’re committed to meeting each bank and its customers where they are to support their banking journeys.

So, as you read this month’s issue, which focuses on digital banking, I encourage you to seek out those stories that spark new ideas and introduce a little fun into the process, too. We recognize that maintaining your ongoing focus on innovation takes a tremendous investment of time and resources, so we hope these articles support you in taking that creative leap.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and take a moment to reflect on the year, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer a huge thank you to all of you. Thank you for committing to doing more to support your customers and employees. Thank you for being unwavering supporters of the communities you serve. And thank you for your commitment to ICBA. We are so grateful for all of you.


Rebeca Romero Rainey
President and CEO, ICBA
Connect with Rebeca @romerorainey