pexels-pixabay-356043_ lightbulb ideas ABA community banking conference 2022

A Brief Summary of the 2022 ABA Community Bankers Conference

pexels-pixabay-356043_ lightbulb ideas ABA community banking conference 2022The 2022 American Bankers Association (ABA) conference for community bankers was held in Palm Desert, California on Feb. 20 – 22. The conference presentations had a common theme: technology and the importance of having the right technology tools to benefit your team and your customers. Check out my summaries of three of the sessions I attended.

>> Technology & Innovation Educational Session: Building a Technology Roadmap

Session Description: During the pandemic, many banks recognized the increasing importance of being technologically agile and adaptive. Attendees to this session learned how to develop a process to guide decision-making on upgrading technology that improves operations and more efficiently serves customers.

Panel: Chris Richards, Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank
Ben Wallace, Partner, Summit Technologies Group
Will Furrer, Chief Strategy Officer, Q2
Joe Fain, Banking Industry Partner, Gartner Consulting

Session Takeaways:

  • When it comes to embracing technology, banks have to work to change mindsets. Many bankers are entrenched in their old ways. But keep in mind that some business owners shy away from meeting with bankers because they are intimidated by them. Bankers therefore have to meet business owners where they are.
  • In today’s world, technology can help solve a lot of common challenges. For example, it can address local talent shortages by facilitating the capability of hiring remote employees. Technology also can create efficiencies for teams across multiple applications.
  • API-capable technology is important to build a system that can grow with the changing needs of the bank and its customers. Banks should really be working with cloud-based technology today rather than relying on a server room set-up.
  • Keep in mind: Customers today have alternate, non-traditional banking and payment options, and the pandemic brought about additional customer behavioral changes. For instance, cash isn’t often accepted at sporting events any longer. Instead, most transactions are handled via card payments. Children under a certain age frequently can’t get a debit card in their name from their (or their parents’) bank, so they seek out alternate options such as the kid-friendly Greenlight Card.
  • Community banks often don’t have a well-defined/well-articulated vision for their technology. When budgeting, technology improvements and advancements often take a backseat to other non-discretionary costs. Many community banks attempt to outsource their IT problems, and they often end up buying disparate technologies that don’t work well together. This highlights the need for community banks to develop a comprehensive technology plan for their organization.

>> Diversity & Inclusion Educational Session: Expanding Access: How Banks Can Serve Justice-Involved Individuals

Session Description: Building off a groundbreaking ABA Foundation whitepaper released this past fall, this session examined how banks are collaborating with prisons, nonprofits, and other stakeholders to expand access to financial services for millions of individuals with criminal records trying to reintegrate into society. Attendees heard about specific bank programs that are helping this often underbanked and underserved population, while supporting their community in the process. Session attendees also learned how banks can help solve this problem and demonstrate a commitment to financial inclusion.

Panel: Peter Cook, Chief Communications Officer, American Bankers Association
Kelli Nielsen, EVP, Retail Banking & Marketing, 1st Security Bank
Ben Joergens, VP & Director of Financial Empowerment, Old National Bank
Kate Mielitz, PhD, AFC Special Groups Manager, Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education

Session Takeaways:

This session focused on the two banking programs Old National and 1st Security have put together as a way to engage with the underserved populations that are/have been involved with the justice system. The banks have different programs, each specific to the organizations they are working with in their respective markets.

Some interesting statistics highlighted during the session:

  • There were 2.1 million people in the U.S. justice system in 2019.
  • More than 70 million people in the U.S. have criminal records.
  • 7.7 million people in the U.S. have been imprisoned.
  • 29 percent of formerly incarcerated people lacked a bank account even before their conviction.

Among the challenges to those who have been through the justice system are a lack of government-issued IDs or access to necessary documents, as well as sometimes mistakenly believing their conviction bars them from holding a bank account.

Programs, like the ones created by Old National and 1st Security are solving for a number of issues among this group. For instance, the programs put a focus on financial literacy. The program helps participants understand how to create a budget once they are released from incarceration.

Participants also learn about banking basics like balancing a checkbook and building or repairing their credit. Some of the people in these programs have been in the justice system for an extended period of time and thus are not familiar with today’s banking trends like online banking and debit cards, so there is a basic banking education component.

Many of the people in the justice system are there because they made a mistake — not because they were out to harm others. Most of the participants in these bank programs want to make a change for the better when they are released from their sentence.

Both banks have a very high employee involvement with bankers eager to take part. For those folks, the experience can be eye-opening as well. The bankers realize the importance of building trust and showing authenticity. This includes such simple acts as showing up on time, being mentally/emotionally present during the sessions, and not coming across as “salesy.”

>> General Session: The Experiential Organization: How the Best Organizations are Winning the War for Talent

Session Description: Instead of forcing people into outdated workplace practices, the world’s top companies are redesigning work around their people by focusing on three environments: culture, technology, and physical workspace. In this session, we learned why employee experience is the next big area of investment, what the top companies are doing, and how you can go about creating an experiential organization.

Presenter: Jacob Morgan, best-selling author and founder of

Session Takeaways:

Community banks have the opportunity to create great work environments because they are often small enough that change can happen more quickly than at large institutions.

The employee experience is a combination of culture X technology X physical space, according to Morgan. There are nine different levels for each of these “buckets” that help to determine a company’s employee experience score.

  1. Inexperienced
  2. Technology emergent
  3. Physically emergent
  4. Culturally emergent
  5. Enabled
  6. Empowered
  7. Engaged
  8. Pre-experiential
  9.  Experiential

Successful organizations must pair the nine levels above with the six steps for adapting to the future of work:

  1. Challenge assumptions
  2. Create a team to lead the effort
  3. Define your organization’s “work for the future”
  4. Communicate your organization’s “work for the future”
  5. Experiment and empower employees to take action
  6. Implement broad-based change

To win and retain the best talent, organizations must repeat steps 3-6 on a regular basis.

Photo credit: Pixabay by Pexels


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Part 7 of 7: Give Small Business Platform Lending a Clearer View with Industry Intelligence

Your commercial and small business bankers love Vertical IQ for call preparation, but the value of Industry Intelligence reaches far beyond these groups. In this seven-part blog series, we will discuss how Industry Intelligence can be utilized by lines of business across your bank enterprise.

>> Related:
Part 1 of 7: Industry Intelligence Offers a Wealth of Treasury Management Insight

Part 2 of 7: Industry Intelligence Puts Card Services in Charge

Part 3 of 7: Credit Underwriting Can Connect the Dots with Industry Intelligence

Part 4 of 7: Industry Intelligence Adds Up for Wealth Management & Investments

Part 5 of 7: Get Group Banking on Team Industry Intelligence

Part 6 of 7: Private Equity Informed by Industry Intelligence

small business platform lending ; small business owner with "OPEN" signIn a single day, a small business banker could be calling on a machine shop, a dentist, and a jewelry store. With such a diverse array of clients in their portfolios, Industry Intelligence is a must-have for their call preparation. But there are numerous other groups across your bank enterprise that also can benefit from these insights, such as your small business platform lending team.

Industry Intelligence can help nearly any small business lending group save time and manage risk more effectively. After all, objectivity is the name of the game when it comes to risk analysis. With Vertical IQ, your small business platform lending team has the datapoints and details they need to make unbiased decisions — right at their fingertips.

For example, Industry Intelligence can help these lenders:

Get an unbiased picture of the industry’s credit environment

The “Credit Underwriting & Risks” chapter of the Vertical IQ Industry Profile helps lenders thoroughly analyze the big picture issues that may impact a particular industry’s creditworthiness. This could include exogenous risk factors, as well as challenges that might arise from within businesses in certain industries. The sections on Underwriting Considerations, Industry Risks, and Company Risks give lenders the macro-level issues as well as micro matters to consider.

For additional impartial information on the lending landscape within an industry, Vertical IQ’s proprietary Industry Risk Rating and Key Metrics are here to help. The Industry Risk Rating is an average of scores from six risk-related categories including exit rates, barriers to entry, exogenous risks, and others. Key Metrics offer lenders intel on topics like the industry’s loan default rate and how the industry fared during the 2007 to 2009 recession.

Taken on the whole, the Credit Underwriting & Risks chapter provides small business platform lending teams the very insights they need to understand the overall lending environment of their client’s or prospect’s industry, all in one place, saving time and effort.

Conduct thorough risk analysis of a specific business

Once a lender understands the big picture of a would-be borrower’s industry, it’s time to look at the specifics around that particular business. And Industry Intelligence can lead the way with this research as well.

A small business lender can gather salient information from the business by asking industry-specific “Call Prep Questions” from the Industry Profile. Let’s say the client is a pest control company. Instead of saying, “Tell me about your business,” the lender could ask, “How does your company minimize the financial risk associated with termite guarantees?” or “How does your company ensure compliance with government regulations around toxic chemicals?” Such tailored questions can get to the heart of a business’s creditworthiness

Additionally, the Financial Comparison Toolkit, found under the “Credit Underwriting & Risks” chapter, helps lenders objectively compare a client’s financial metrics to industry averages. This widget allows you to input a company’s financials for categories like gross profit margin, operating profit margin, leverage, and more to see how they stack up to industry averages.

Learn about which loan products are commonly used by businesses within the industry

Want a sneak peek at what loan products are most often used by companies within a particular industry? Industry Intelligence can give you this inside edge.

The “Banking Solutions” chapter of the Industry Profile details common challenges within each industry and the banking solutions that can address that issue. The “Bank Product Usage” chapter gives you a look at which products are most often used by businesses within the industry. This knowledge can save a lender time and also give the business owner an idea of how peers are managing their finances.

Stay abreast of industry news and current events

It’s useful for a lender to understand the latest goings on within an industry to get a further grasp on the lending landscape. Industry Intelligence makes it simple to gather such reconnaissance.

Chapters like “Industry Trends,” “Industry Forecast,” and “News” allow bankers to put a finger on the pulse of an industry, gaining an understanding of what is happening now and what is anticipated to occur down the road within the borrower’s niche.

There is even a section dedicated to “Impact of COVID-19,” which highlights industries that have seen challenges or opportunities as a result of the pandemic. Such insight can give the lender a better understanding of an industry’s resiliency.

A timesaving, insightful research tool for small business lenders

Vertical IQ was specifically designed to make it simple to find the Industry Intelligence bankers need to serve their small to medium-sized business clients. The site’s Industry Intelligence also can “lend” a helping hand to small business platform lenders who need to gather objective insights on a prospective client.

A single, easy-to-use resource that saves time, improves analysis, and reduces risk — now that’s a tool your lending team wants in their arsenal!

Want to learn more about Vertical IQ’s value-added enterprise solutions? Contact Vertical IQ today to schedule a demo!

Image credit: Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

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Part 2 of 7: Industry Intelligence Puts Card Services in Charge

Your commercial and small business bankers love Vertical IQ for call preparation, but the value of Industry Intelligence reaches far beyond these groups. In this seven-part blog series, we will discuss how Industry Intelligence can be utilized by lines of business across your bank enterprise.

>> Related:
Part 1 of 7: Industry Intelligence Offers a Wealth of Treasury Management Insight

credit card servicesWhen your commercial and small business bankers are preparing for a call, Industry Intelligence is their fast-pass to save time while getting them up to speed on their client or prospect. But Industry Intelligence also offers value across the entire bank enterprise. Your commercial and business card services team, for example, may find that Industry Intelligence is the ace they need in their pocket.

Better questions, better solutions

A major component of the card services team’s job is to listen, which means getting the client or prospect talking. The card team needs to understand a client’s spending habits, their short-term credit needs, and how these things can impact cash flow. Industry Intelligence gives card services valuable insights based on the typical spending habits for an industry, and even offers specific questions to ask to get that conversation started.

For instance, looking at the “Banking Solutions” chapter of the Industry Profile for machine shops, we learn that one of their common challenges is efficiently paying suppliers and managing expenses to optimize cash flow and minimize fraud. Some questions a card services officer might ask around this issue are:

  • How do you pay suppliers as late as possible to take advantage of discounts and conserve cash?
  • What is your process for approving purchases of and paying for materials, supplies, inventory, and T&E expenses?
  • How do you protect your firm against fraudulent or inappropriate purchases?

These questions are sure to get a machine shop owner talking, which allows the card services team to listen and gather valuable insights into the business. Based on the business owner’s answers, the card team might propose products such as purchasing cards and/or commercial credit cards, as well as services like online bill payment and wire transfers.

“What is my competition doing?”

There isn’t a business owner out there who doesn’t want to know what their competitors are doing to address common industry challenges or how the business can take advantage of emerging trends. This is why it also can be helpful to the card services team to explore which bank products are most used by companies within a particular niche.

This piece of Industry Intelligence, found under the “Bank Product Usage” chapter of the Industry Profile, provides insights into which solutions others within an industry are using to manage their financial picture.

Again, looking at the Industry Profile for machine shops, we can see that 57 percent are using a business credit card issued in their company’s name. Additionally, 52 percent have a business debit card or business check card. This is not only helpful information for the banker to know, it is also useful to share with a prospective card services client — reconnaissance on their competitive landscape, which might entice them to pursue a similar solution.

Other tidbits of interest to a business owner

There is additional Industry Intelligence that a business owner would be happy to learn about their niche, which card services teams can capitalize on during client conversations, presentations, and follow-ups.

  • The “Working Capital” chapter of each Industry Profile has a section dedicated to Cash Management Challenges. This is a highly relevant subject when it comes to cash flow conversations and highlights potential cash flow issues commonly faced by a particular industry.
  • The “Financial Benchmarks” chapter of the Industry Profile includes financial statistics and even provides insights into expenditures by category. This can assist with the selection of the best card product, as well as spending limits.
  • “Industry News” and current events are helpful to business development as well as client retention — something every line of business within your bank should be focusing on!

An Industry Intelligence tool with no limits

Industry Intelligence provides your commercial and business card services teams with helpful insights into their client’s or prospect’s industry, enabling them to ask better questions, initiating more focused conversations to delve into the business owner’s unique needs. This knowledge allows your bankers to match challenge to solution, bringing new card services business into the bank and retaining existing card customers with valuable advice to help their business thrive.

Want to learn more about how your commercial and business card services teams and other lines of business across your bank enterprise can use Vertical IQ’s Industry Intelligence to save time and win more deals? Contact Vertical IQ today for a free demo!


Image credit: Markus Winkler via Unsplash

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Put Two "I"s in Your Customer Success Team: Industry Intelligence

customer success team; fist bumpYour company’s customer success team is all about ensuring satisfaction after the sale. A major component to this is, of course, effective onboarding. But as with the sales process, today’s customers aren’t going to be content with a cookie-cutter approach to adoption and ongoing training. They are expecting a more tailored experience that addresses their unique needs. Fail to achieve their high standards, and the Adoption and Loyalty Phases of the buyer’s journey can be jeopardized, not to mention the Advocacy Phase.

So as a customer success professional, what can you do to ensure you’re meeting your clients’ expectations during these crucial later stages of the sales cycle? Especially if you work with clients in multiple industries, how can you create that personalized experience they are clamoring for?

Effective use of Industry Intelligence makes it simple. Let’s take a look at some specific tactics that customer success teams can use to create that “wow” experience.

>> Related: See Vertical IQ in action all along your buyer’s journey

Adoption Phase

By the time clients have reached the Adoption Phase of the buyer’s journey, a lot has already transpired. They became aware of your brand, considered their various buying options, and ultimately decided your company offered the best solution to their need.

But bear in mind: The people who will be implementing your product or service weren’t necessarily at the table when that choice was made. This is why it is so important to get buy-in from downstream employees during the Adoption Phase of the buyer’s journey.

To get the extended team on board, education is crucial, and personalization will make your message resonate even more. Fortunately, this is the customer success team’s forte! Create education pieces tailored to the client’s industry using Industry Intelligence to connect the dots between their needs and your solution.

The customer success team can further demonstrate the reasons the decision makers selected your company and solution and the strategic value you bring to the table by sharing Industry Intelligence. Data and insights like the Industry Profile, Quarterly Updates, and Big Picture Video, as well as industry news articles, accelerate this process and further promote adoption across the business for even better results and ROI.

Loyalty Phase

During the Loyalty Phase of the buyer’s journey, your focus should be on remaining top-of-mind and adding continual value after the sale. This truly should be an ongoing effort for your customer success team as they are charged with doing everything they can to ensure the client steers clear of avoidable pitfalls and can overcome any obstacles they may encounter.

Industry Intelligence helps you guide the new client and their team in the right direction (and even identify and capture upsell opportunities). Solidify this burgeoning relationship by sharing industry-specific Quarterly Updates, current news articles, Local Economy reports, individual Industry Profile chapters, Financial Benchmarks, and more.

By passing along this value-added Industry Intelligence to your clients and providing them with tips on how to use the insights, your customer success team helps the client make informed decisions using the most current data and details, compiled by experts, instead of relying on guesses or assumptions. The result will be an exceptional customer experience that solidifies the client’s loyalty to your product and brand.

Advocacy Phase

The Advocacy Phase of the buyer’s journey is all about creating happy, long-term customers who will readily endorse your brand and your solutions. When your customer success team uses Industry Intelligence to continually prove your company to be a high-value partner, your customers will be eager to recommend you and share their positive experience with others.

To stay top-of-mind and continuously prove your value, customer success teams should reach out regularly with relevant industry tidbits, as well as more in-depth details from Industry Profiles and Quarterly Updates. Share Local Economy data, which reveals the dynamics at play in specific markets and arms your client with the insights needed to take full advantage of new opportunities.

Leveraging Industry Intelligence on an ongoing basis during the Advocacy stage positions your company as a trusted advisor. By adding this value, your customer success team is the conduit through which clients become eager to expand their own relationship with you, as well as advocate on your behalf to their friends and colleagues.

>> Free eBook: Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer’s Journey

Put the “success” in customer success team

We hear from some Vertical IQ customers who tell us they have users who still only think about Industry Intelligence from a prospecting perspective. While there’s no doubt that Industry Intelligence is absolutely invaluable during your client team’s prospecting efforts, it is in fact designed to support the entire life of a business relationship: from the Awareness Phase all the way through to the Advocacy Phase.

When your customer success team incorporates Industry Intelligence into the educational efforts during the Adoption Phase of the buyer’s journey, it sets the stage for a more successful implementation. It also sets your company up to wow the client and build allegiance during the Loyalty Phase and eventually convert them into raving fans during the Advocacy Phase.

As with any change, this new way of thinking about your customer success strategy and tactics may take a little getting used to, but the end result of your efforts will be worth it when your clients are not only willing but eager to promote your brand to others.

Want to learn more about how your customer success team can effectively incorporate Industry Intelligence into the buyer’s journey? Contact us today for a free demo!

Image credit:  Markus Spiske via Unsplash

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Now More Than Ever, Industry Intelligence Is A “Must Have”

Today, it is more critical than ever to have access to Industry Intelligence so that you can advise clients and add value. Why?

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