Do you want shoes that are leather, canvas, suede, or pleather? Slip-on or lace-up? Brown, black, red, white, tan? Do you want an ½ inch heel, a pump, or a platform? Are they for walking, running, tennis, hiking, biking, a night on the town? When you go to the shoe store and see the near-countless choices available, it’s hard to imagine that there are some companies that are so-called “masters of one” — businesses that focus on just one product (think Crocs).

Such companies have learned that going back to basics can strengthen their foundation, a great reminder that simplicity often holds the key to success. This was a theme that Risk Management Association’s Carolinas-Virginias (CAVA) Chapter embraced while our team was in Greenville, South Carolina, for their annual spring conference; in order to move forward and thrive, we needed to focus on perfecting the simple things … the basics.

This was our second year sponsoring CAVA’s spring conference, which meant a reunion with lots of familiar faces from last year! I think all of us could agree that this was the type of conference where it feels as though you’re meeting up with old friends rather than colleagues and associates from across the industry, which is why it’s one of our favorite shows. Not only was it great to see customers and colleagues, but the backdrop of Greenville in the springtime is tough to beat. Seriously, if you haven’t been, book yourself a weekend getaway, ASAP!

Our relationship with the Risk Management Association (RMA) goes back to 2021 when they chose Vertical IQ’s Industry Intelligence to bolster their eMentor platform for credit and lending teams. Since then, we’ve enjoyed supporting them at conferences and even presenting research and keynotes to their local chapters across the country.

At the top of the list of discussion topics at the CAVA conference was the current economic landscape, bank performance metrics, and regulatory updates. Janeen Hughes, the deputy commissioner of banking for the South Carolina State Board of Financial Institutions, presented findings from an annual survey of community banks. Unsurprisingly, external risks like net interest margins, core deposit growth, and regulatory compliance remained top concerns, alongside internal challenges such as cybersecurity, liquidity, and staff retention.

Being in the room with CAVA’s community bank leaders presents such a unique opportunity to understand the challenges and stresses facing these institutions. The changing economic environment requires financial institutions to provide more to their clients than ever before, which begs the question: How can institutions provide more value?

Our CEO and co-founder, Bobby Martin, aimed to answer this very question through his session, “Why Becoming a Local Economist is Essential.” After several turbulent years, the nation’s economy is rapidly improving with inflation easing and supply chains normalizing, but bankers need to understand what’s happening in their own local economies in order to be the most effective advisors that they can be to their clients.

In a packed breakout room, Bobby emphasized the importance of understanding and leveraging local economic trends for informed decision-making in the banking sector. He showcased practical applications of our new Localized Industry Data, available on the Vertical IQ platform, capturing the attention of the audience, especially our customers at the table. This newly added data equips bankers to differentiate themselves from their competitors by providing sound, fact-based advice on industries at the local level.

Bobby’s session underscored the value of becoming trusted advisors armed with localized insights, which enable professionals to navigate lending and investing risks with more precision. Thankfully, Bobby also shared these very insights on a recent webinar that we held, and the recording can be viewed here! When it comes to providing clients value that goes above and beyond, being an industry expert down to the local level is certainly one way to do it.

If there’s one consistent thing about the banking industry, it’s that it’s always changing. Returning to the basics challenges us to take pause, adapt, and move forward in a way that embraces challenges head-on. We only wish that our time together at CAVA was longer, but it was a well-needed retreat with some incredible financial leaders. Our calendars are already marked for next year — Charlotte, here we come!

Curious how to provide more value to your clients? Watch our webinar on how to become a local economist to learn what insights you need to know, how to incorporate them into your lending strategy, and more. Or, book some time with us to see for yourself how Industry Intelligence can help!

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The Risk Management Association's CAVA Spring Conference