Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Mega Good Time in Indy…

Alicia and I recently attended the Indiana Bankers Association Mega Conference in Indianapolis and must say it was one of the better bank conferences we’d been to in quite a while. As the name suggests, it was a “mega” in scope and I heard over 600 bankers attended over the two day event and they even had to turn away vendors from exhibiting because the turnout was so good. In light of the challenging economic times, it was refreshing to see this many bankers and industry partners out and about for the two-day event.

The conference featured various tracks that bankers could attend, including sales, marketing, technology, audit, compliance, lending, finance and virtually any other silo that exists in today’s community bank. With two sessions for each of these tracks in the morning and afternoon, plus great keynote speakers at lunch both days, it’s obvious why many banks brought several folks from their shop to take it all in. Lots of learning to be had, for sure!

It was great to re-connect with many of the vendors that I knew from my “Michigan” banking days as well as get to meet some great Indian bankers over the two days we spent in Indy. We even were able to sit in on a few of the presentations, and always one looking for new ideas, took some great notes. Here’s just a summary of what I brought back from my two days in Indy.

The Future Trends of Bank Technology
Raj Patel from Plante Moran, a “regular” on the topics of technology and innovation in the banking industry, gave a great presentation on the how the Internet continues to mold the way organizations (yes, even banks) are delivering products and services. You can download his presentation entitled Technology Innovations in Banking if you wish. Generation X and Y, mobile banking, the branch of the future, blogging and social networking (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace)… He touched on all of these areas (and more) and some of the most intriguing parts of his presentation involved a video on the Umpqua Bank’s branch of the future and a discussion on PNC Bank’s Virtual Wallet. One thing’s for sure, banking as usual is being challenged and it will be interesting to see how many community banks jump on board and begin leveraging the possibilities that exist today.

Stand Out From The Crowd
There was also a great session on differentiation, presented by Joe Sullivan of Market Insights. While we all think we are different from our competitors, he challenged participants to think what they are doing to really stand out. He suggested that community banks have a great opportunity to create their brand in today’s challenging economic environment and need to be able to balance the short and long-term efforts to stand out. Bankers need to become fearless in their marketing and promotion strategies and figure out a way to connect emotionally with customers. Once that emotional connection is made, you significantly increase the chance of someone doing business with you, and with one out of every three customers giving consideration to switching banks, this strategy not only is a good way to get new customers, but keep the ones you have now. As yourself these questions… 1). Who are you? 2). What do you do? 3). Why does it matter? If you are having a hard time answering these questions honestly (and uniquely), then chances are you’re having a hard time in other areas of your bank as well.

Yes, Bankers Can Sell
Another area that I have a particular interest is the sales process. In fact, I just finished my third year as instructor at the Perry School of Banking in Mt. Pleasant, MI teaching a class entitled “Sales – It’s not a Four Letter Word”. Jack Hubbard of St. Myer & Hubbard introduced their concept called “trust-based” prospecting, which made a lot of sense. In fact, I’ve been using the “know me, like me, trust me” concept in my business and am as strong believer that people buy from those they know, like and trust. The TBP system takes this to a new level and we went online to their site and purchased the book that goes “deep” into this concept and look forward to incorporating its components into our business. They even published a book on their process and I we picked that up and look forward to digging into it soon.

Competing For Deposits
The final session I was able to attend was Dr. Tom Parliament’s Uncovering Retail Deposit Capacity: The Battle for Branch Optimization. As was the case when I had the pleasure of sitting in his class at the Graduate School of Banking, Dr. P’s energy is second to none and he delivered great ideas on how community bankers should be positioning themselves to go after the big banks and steal market share and grow deposits. I’m looking forward to chatting with him further about a new concept he talked about that enables banks to take deposits and open accounts online independent of the bank’s core processor capabilities. Certainly something I’m interested in learning more about for my customers!

Alicia and I are already planning on returning in 2010 for the next Mega Conference and look forward to even more great information. I’ve started conversations with several Indiana banks as a result of my time in Indy, so I’d say it was time well spent. Hats off to the IBA for a great show and bucking the economy and putting on a great show. See you next year, if not before!

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