A recap from American Bankers Association’s Conference for Community Bankers
“George Bailey [from It’s a Wonderful Life] was a stereotype in its most positive form: the banker as a pillar of his community, a person whom customers trusted and relied upon to help make their lives better.”
This short passage is pulled from our book, Earn It: Building Your Bank’s Brand One Relationship at a Time. We used to reference George Bailey quite often in our content. So much so, that we started out our book by referencing his character. We believed he personified what the banking industry is and should always be.
But as the years have passed, I’ve watched as the industry has shifted away from this ideal, and more towards creating efficiencies within the bank, digital transformation, and keeping up with the bank down the street, as everyone races to innovate.
“What happened to George Bailey?” I often wondered.
And We’re Off… to San Diego!
I was excited to head off to San Diego for the American Bankers Association’s Conference for Community Bankers. It’d been a while since I’d attended a banking conference other than BankOnPurpose, and I was excited to have some deep and thoughtful conversations with banks across the country, and hear from some of our clients.
Plus, San Diego… enough said.
I figured we’d spend a lot of time hearing about digital transformation, the impending recession, and the drop in loan volume in 2018. And we did. But what struck me the most was the added emphasis on the humanity of banking and the need for bankers who are strong leaders. Repeatedly during the conference, speakers thanked the large room of bankers for the wonderful work they were doing in their communities.
Humble and Kind
The most impressive part of the conference was Colonel Arthur Athens, retired Marine and former Director of the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership, U.S. Naval Academy.
Col. Athens wasn’t an extremely expressive person; he had a serious and tight-lipped demeanor. But as he shared his wealth of knowledge, his kind and humble heart left the audience inspired and in awe.
That’s what he urged all of us to be - humble and kind as we lead our teams and serve our clients. He encouraged us to understand what our personal values are and how we’ll live up to them each day, and to know where we will and won’t compromise.
What struck me most was how the Colonel ended the multiple talks he gave throughout the conference. He thanked the bankers for their service to our communities in the most honest and genuine way. I felt pride and excitement bubble up each time. No, I’m not a banker, but I work with lot of them and am proud to know them. They’re some of the most outstanding people you’ll meet. They work each and every day to help the dreams of their communities come true.
They’re the George Baileys of the world.
That sentiment, despite my former beliefs, is still alive and well.
The work YOU do matters.
I’m often reminded of this interview with Trevor Lewis at Los Alamos Bank. He won our “Trophy Deal of the Year” award at BankOnPurpose back in 2017. I distinctly remember when he shared this story, and the tears that welled up in my eyes, because his passion for his work and the community he serves was so very apparent.
This work matters. Your work matters.
We talk about a lot of about building a bank centered on purpose, values, and customers at our BankOnPurpose Conference. As the banking landscape is changing, one thing must remain constant - the need for leaders and institutions who put the customer first, are humble, and lead with purpose. I hope you can make it this year, May 1-3, in Austin, TX. Hopefully, we can grab a cup of coffee and talk about how noble a profession banking is.
In the meantime, you might want to check out Earn It, which was quoted in the opening paragraph. We cover George Bailey (of course) and how you can build your bank by putting your customers and your values first.
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