It goes without saying that Arizona is hot during the summertime. I’m talking about a blistering, “fry an egg on the sidewalk,” 107 degrees hot. For a group of Carolinians like ourselves, the heat felt like home — thankfully, without the humidity! But while we were fanning ourselves on the grounds of the picturesque Arizona Biltmore, things were heating up inside at Abrigo’s ThinkBIG Conference.

It was my second year attending this conference and Vertical IQ’s second year supporting our partners at Abrigo as Gold Sponsors. This year’s theme of “Community. Connect. Impact.” could not have been more fitting. Much like some of the other conferences we’ve attended this spring, the focus was on the banking industry’s emphasis on building relationships. Even as technology grows more important, we will never lose the “human” element of banking! Here’s what else Abrigo got us thinking about…

Teamwork makes the dream work

The week was packed with great insight, and Chris Carlson, president and CEO of the Relationship Banking Academy, hit on a topic that resonated greatly. His session, “How Lenders and the Credit Team Can Work Together to Change the Game,” talked about what the characteristics of a transformational banker are. Among the top three highlights of what bankers should be doing:

    • Focus on always adding value: When it comes to business development, bankers should be doing their homework from the very beginning and targeting a select group of prospects that are the best fit for the bank. From here, have an ongoing plan of how you can check in each month and continually add value to those prospects.
    • Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes: It’s often said that sales are won on the first call, so imagine yourself as the buyer from the first interaction to ensure you’re focusing on the right things and avoiding the “premature pitch.”
    • Always be locked in: Your “antenna” must always be up. Your job is not only to sell but also to be the aggregator and disseminator of key information. This could include timely industry trends, current events, and value-added resources. This is the key to differentiating yourself from other salespeople.

When lenders consider these things, they also reduce friction between themselves and the credit team. And we all know that when we work together, big things happen.

Hey, besties, banking is lit!

As the father of two cool young adults, I’d say I’m pretty well-versed in “youth lingo.” Based on the way things are trending, maybe we all should aim to be! Abrigo listed “attracting new and younger customers” as a top priority for community financial institutions, and considering that there are 69 million consumers in the U.S. who are between the ages of 12 and 27, it makes sense.

Need another case? By 2030, this “digitally-native” generation will represent a third of the workforce, and their disposable income is projected to increase by sevenfold. That’s a lot of deposit potential! Here’s how Abrigo suggests becoming the GOAT to this new generation:

    • Using digital-first approaches is essential: Banks need to be able to offer seamless online and mobile banking experiences.
    • However, don’t ignore traditional banking methods: Some banks are exploring the idea of secondary digital-only brands to attract younger customers, but attracting younger customers requires a nuanced approach that aligns with your bank’s overall goals.

Essentially, it comes down to your bank’s customer base and what will best serve those customers. Integrating technology while maintaining that personal touch is the key, no cap!

Speaking of technology…

You didn’t think I’d get through this whole blog without mentioning tech, did you? AI is the name of the game for many organizations right now, and it was a topic widely discussed during ThinkBIG. At the center of these discussions, the conference theme, “Community. Connect. Impact.” remained at the top of my mind.

During one of the panel sessions, Abrigo CEO Jay Blandford pointed out, “Community banks make up the only physical banking presence in one in three U.S. counties. Community financial institutions are more than just service providers — they are integral to community development and support.”

Roxanne Chance-Chin, a BSA officer at the Bank of Tampa, shared that their organization’s digital strategy combines technology with close customer relationships. They conduct customer surveys to understand what their clients need and how they can enhance their services.

Like we’ve said in previous blogs this spring, slow and steady wins the race. When it comes to new technology and AI, take it slow and incorporate what makes sense.

Cheers to Abrigo + Vertical IQ!

This show is special for a lot of reasons, but one of them is because it just about marks the one-year anniversary of our partnership with Abrigo. Our strategic partnership aims to bolster credit analysis for underwriting, risk analysis, credit memos, and much more.

Over the past year, we’ve heard resounding feedback from users that having access to financial benchmarks and specialized industry insights right at their fingertips has been a game-changer, and we couldn’t be more excited about the future of our Abrigo partnership.

While financial institutions navigate the ever-changing economic landscape, I encourage you to keep this year’s ThinkBIG theme in mind: “Community. Connect. Impact.” At the core of what we do is empowering teams so that they can do what they do best: serving their communities. What I can tell you is that our team is feeling energized, enlightened, and already excited for what next year’s conference will bring. See you next year, Abrigo!

Join us on June 20th at 2:00 pm EDT to learn more about the integration between Abrigo and Vertical IQ! Aaron Whitener, Director of Sales Engineering with Abrigo, and Paul Hock, VP of Sales and Strategic Partnerships with Vertical IQ, will show how the integration works and highlight recent enhancements made to improve the integration.

Ready to take your organization’s strategy to the next level? Book a time with us to learn more about why Vertical IQ has the in-depth industry knowledge financial teams need.

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