ICBA LIVE could not have been timed better. Thousands of community bankers and fintechs converged in Honolulu over the weekend of March 12, when the stability of our nation’s financial markets was being challenged (yet again). ICBA and its bankers reacted quickly, providing much needed communication about how community banks are different, the stability of their financials, and that we are not facing a systematic problem.
Communication was part of what went wrong in the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) failure, and it was the first line of defense for community banks. ICBA’s consultants and attorneys provided council on how to respond to financial inquiries. Consultants and attorneys Gerrish Smith Tuck sagely advised bankers to get to the why of questions coming in from related issues. If you understand what someone ultimately wants, you can provide a more useful response.
Bankers shared conversations they were having with large clients over the weekend, discussing in detail how their funds were protected. Others reached out more publicly, taking their stance to the media and social outlets. Soon, #AnotherNormalDayOnMainstreet was trending, helping to calm the rage tweeting and allowing the industry to glean important takeaways from the event and keep an eye on the future.
Liquidity was another big topic at the show. Stifel’s sessions were in high demand as they advised on strategies for bankers to grow their liquidity “war chest”. The speakers discussed approaches to portfolio maintenance and explained how some bankers are strategically taking small losses in favor of long-term gains as they adjust to today’s changing economic environment.
Innovation in banking resounded throughout the event. Federal Reserve Governor Miki Bowman spoke about managing the risk of innovation, which includes the need for clear rules of engagement so that regulators can support new opportunities. ICBA’s ThinkTECH accelerator program reinforced its mission to minimize risk while maximizing innovation. ICBA vets vendors for its program to identify fintech partners who are a viable, reliable choice to support a bank’s technology strategy. The association has been staffing the innovation team and will soon share more about new ways they will continue to strengthen fintech and bank partnerships with year-round initiatives.
Banking is moving faster than ever. The prompt, confident and transparent communications provided by ICBA and the response from community bankers this month is an excellent example of crisis response and the commitment that this industry has for its account holders. It echoed the kuleana (responsibility) that community banks take on behalf of their communities.
Disclosure: WMA is proud to share that ICBA ThinkTECH is one of its newest clients. For more information on trade tradeshows, download WMA’s 2023 Tradeshow Guide.