Hot Topics from Small Biz: Banking Conference

PrecisionLender's Tim Shanahan comes on The Purposeful Banker to recap his recent trip to the Small Biz: Banking Conference. Among the event's hot topics:

  • Hiring bankers who can sell
  • Building your bank's tech stack
  • Partnering with fintechs
  • A potential credit turn


Helpful Links

Small Biz: Banking Conference 

How to Hire and Support Bankers Who Will Sell

How to Find and Cultivate Business Prospects that Fit Your Business

Tim Shanahan (LinkedIn)

Podcast Transcription

Jim Young: Hi and welcome to The Purposeful Banker, the podcast brought to you by PrecisionLender. Where we discuss the big topics on the minds of today's best bankers. I'm your host, Jim Young, Director of Communications at PrecisionLender. I'm joined today by Tim Shanahan. Tim's our SVP of Enterprise Client Development and Success. Today we're going to talk about an event that Tim just returned from, the Small Biz: Banking Conference, which is put on by American Banker. Tim, welcome back to the podcast.
Tim Shanahan: Great, thanks Jim. Good to be here.
Jim Young: You're a busy man, so what made you decide to put this small business conference in your travel plans?
Tim Shanahan: I had never attended the Small Biz Conference before, and certainly based upon the participation, the banks that were going, the content of the conference, it looked like it was going to be a very good conference and it certainly did not disappoint. Fantastic banks, a bunch of engaged attendees, and of course the team over at American Banker was Nick Miller -the emcee - Michelle, Megan, all the folks there did a fantastic job with the overall event.
When I say well attended I mean lots of the countries biggest banks, lots of medium sized and small banks and credit unions, and again a highly engaged group of attendees there. Also very energetic exhibition hall. We had the opportunity to have a booth there and there were lots of tech companies there, there were lots of different vendors represented. You can definitely see how Fintech has moved from the consumer part of the banking world into the business part of the banking world.
Then from there lots of banks, as folks know, are really trying to figure out how to best service the payment process, so there was a lot on that side as well as on the credit side, how to best deliver credit to small businesses there. Certainly it's things that we hear are how banks are trying to recreate the technology stack, the technology that goes to drive the overall performance of the bank and where to start. A lot of conversation on that.
Again, just a fantastic conference overall and was really happy that I went.
Jim Young: Yes being able to get to a conference like that, like you said, has a really great cross section of banks from across the country. It was really a must.
Tim, you mentioned some of the topics in your overview of the Small Biz Conference. I want to dive into those a little bit deeper as well as some of the sessions you attended. The first one of them is titled "How to Hire Bankers Who Sell." This is a subject that I know from previous bank director annual surveys has been on the minds of banks of all sizes. What did you take away from this session?
Tim Shanahan: This was one of the most energetic sessions. Tony Cole from Anthony Cole Training does such a fantastic job leading a very engaging session. Then Kevin Rask from KeyBank also did an outstanding job. Really in this particular session they really put really good, straightforward, easy to implement ideas into the hands of all the different participants. It was again one of the most energetic sessions. Tony does a great job walking around asking people for direct feedback, asking great questions, very interactive session, really glad I attended that one.
Jim Young: Yes and I should mention that Tony Cole I recently hosted a webinar about selling, a PrecisionLender webinar, and I'll make sure to include a link to the replay of that webinar in our show notes later on. Another session with an intriguing title was "Small Business Leaders: Challenges Ahead". What were some of the challenges mentioned and I'm particularly curious about how those challenges effect RMs.
Tim Shanahan: It's a great question and Elizabeth Dobers from BBVA Compass, Reggie Davis from SunTrust did a great job with this session. This one they talked about some of the very straightforward needs that are on everybody's minds. Lending, how do you facilitate lending in a profitable and expeditious manner when it's a small business. How you're able to garner deposits from small business. How banks can charge and collect an adequate level of fee income associated with their business. How they can target different customers via different channels. The piece that actually was probably the loudest because it was part of numerous sessions was the role of the relationship manager in today's technology world.
I think certainly we're seeing lots of different change out there. We're seeing rampant and very quick innovation in technology. I think folks are trying to figure out what the best way to implement that. I think by every single account though, people want to deal with people and that came through in this session, it came through other sessions as well is that the bank customers want to be able to interact with a person at some point along the way. I think what you're seeing and what we're seeing is that technology is doing the things that it does well. Things like calculations, complex analysis of the workflow, and really we're creating these iron men. These aren't cyborgs, these are iron men that the relationship managers and their skillsets are augmented and added to by this technology.
Technology is doing what it does well so that human beings and relationship managers can do what they do well, and that is deliver ideas with trust, with empathy, leveraging the relationships they have with their customers, the insight that they have in their respective fields. I think that was, again a great session and also a broader theme across the overall conference.
Jim Young: Yes, well that's really heartening to hear that ... It's a topic that we talk a lot about internally here and through our content. It's heartening to hear that that's a similar sort of note is being struck at the Small Biz Conference. This next one was a session, in the notes you sent to me, you listed as one of your highlights of the conference. This one was called "Leading Small Business Banking Into the Digital Future". Why did this one in particular stick out to you?
Tim Shanahan: This one was great, it really was. Vivian Merker, who's a partner over at Oliver Wyman, had facilitated the session and they had a great panel. It was Michelle Di Gangi from Bank of the West, Jay DesMarteau from TD, David Hiller from SunTrust, Rob Pascal from Bank of America, just a very engaging session. Vivian asked very pointed questions of the panelists and then had them hold up placards either saying A or B.
All of a sudden you had this spontaneous debate on stage between these senior leaders at these different banks. Questions like if you could send all of your banks relationships managers to a training course what would it be? Either credit fundamentals or a day in the life of an entrepreneur, which one would you actually do? It was very, very interesting and just seeing everyone's debate on stage and different approaches and the things that different values come into play. It really was a very engaging session.
Jim Young: That particular question is interesting because it seems to be asking what do you put more stake in? If you had to choose one, and hopefully you don't have to, would you want them to really have that nuts and bolts meat and potatoes knowledge or would you rather them have that little bit more softer but maybe empathetic walk in someone's shoes knowledge? That's really interestingly framed question.
Tim Shanahan: It is because there's also no wrong answer. I think ultimately, especially in that question, you need the base aspects of being a banker, the understanding credit, understanding how to rip apart financial statements, understand the impact of the cash flow of the business, and then put into the context of a day in the life of that entrepreneur. What are the challenges that they face and how do those challenges ultimately impact some of those credit fundamentals of the business operations and the cash flow of the business? Again, a very good session. That was one of the highlights is that question.
Jim Young: One of the other great things about a conference like this is not just what you learn in the sessions but what you learn when you get a bunch of people in the industry together to talk shop in the hallways or over dinner or at cocktail hour. One of the topics that came up quite a bit in conversations was some concerns about a potential credit turn. Was this more of a theoretical discussion or did you get a sense that there's real worry there?
Tim Shanahan: This was certainly absolutely was a topic, and we've been witnessing one of the longest economic expansions in history. I think the second longest as of right now in terms of economic expansions. There also are some early indications of a credit turn with adversarial curve, comparing a couple of different points on the yield curve metrics. Certainly the performance of a banks borrowers is definitely top of mind because it effects so many aspects of the business, how you go to market, staffing levels at a bank, the credit standards to which you underwrite, the ongoing investment that you're making into the business.
Overall I think the banks I've talked with I've had the same recommendations and that is you absolutely do need to be prudent certainly but you also need to continue your focus on driving revenue. You need to continue, make a good understanding as to what are the appropriate investments in people and technology that are going to delivery the revenue growth that ultimately your shareholders are going to reward.
Jim Young: Yes sound advice. Finally obviously at these conferences, fintech is a topic across a lot of sessions. What's your impression of the overall tone of that discussion? How are banks looking at fintech when it comes to the small biz space?
Tim Shanahan: In the beginning I think banks were looking at fintech as competitors, and I think over time they've realized that fintech actually makes great partners. Building technology assets on a banks own has really proven to be an inferior strategy because it's just impossible to keep pace at the level of innovation that occurs out there, especially with the advent of the cloud and software as a service. It's really ramped up that pace of innovation.
I think one of the things that you're seeing was talked about at the conference was this switch from really a CapEx technology model - where you build and deploy your own technology and solutions - to more of an OpEx technology model - where you're actually purchasing the right to use and partnering with different specialist firms. These firms are doing nothing but waking up everyday and thinking about ways to innovate their specific and relatively niche area of technology and service. Ultimately that's what's going to improve customer service, it's ultimately what's going to increase revenue and help banks retain market share.
Jim Young: Great, thanks for that really thorough recap of the conference Tim. I'm guessing from your glowing review this will be one we'll probably be talking about again around this time next year, after the next Small Biz Conference because it certainly seems like a valuable one for banks and for vendors like us to be attending.
Tim Shanahan: Absolutely, yes we will. Yes we will.
Jim Young: Okay, that'll do it for this weeks show. Now for just a few friendly reminders, if you want to listen to more podcasts or check out more of our content you can visit our resource page at or you can just head over to our home page to learn more about the company behind this content. Finally if you like what you've been hearing please make sure to subscribe to feed in iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play, or Stitcher. We love to get ratings and feedback on any of those platforms. Until next time, this has been Jim Young for Tim Shanahan and you've been listening to The Purposeful Banker.


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About the Author

Jim Young

Jim Young, Director of Content at PrecisionLender, is an award-winning writer with experience in a range of positions in media and marketing, from reporter to website editor to content marketer. Throughout his career Jim has focused on the story – how to find it, how to understand it, and how best to share it with others. At PrecisionLender, he manages the many ways in which the company shares its philosophy on banking and the power of relationships. Jim graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University and holds a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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