“The Emerging Leaders Program is one of those fantastic opportunities to boost your energy and excitement.”
Lisa Stephens, VP of Mayville State Bank
By BILL PERRY
ACME — Conducted in conjunction with the Community Bankers of Michigan (CBM) Annual Convention and Trade Show at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, the Community Bankers of Michigan Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) looks to the future of community banking in Michigan. ELP, in its second year, recognizes a fresh generation of bankers and community bank supporters.
An emerging leader is any staff member employed by a CBM member bank that the bank’s executive management has identified as a progressive individual showing promise for a leadership role in the bank and community. This staff member should also be committed to preserving and enhancing the community banking philosophy.
At the CBM Annual Convention, ELP participants heard presentations on: Technology Innovations in Banking with Raj Patel of Plante Moran the presider; and Protecting the Community Bank Franchise with president/CEO of Kalamazoo County State Bank and former ICBA chairman, Jim MacPhee. A third presenter, Nathan Eide, social media manager at Deluxe Corp. focused on using social media in a business and professional setting.
One of the ELP participants, Lisa Stephens, VP at Mayville State Bank has attended both years. “The Emerging Leaders Program is one of those fantastic opportunities to boost your energy and excitement. I appreciate interesting and relevant topics to my industry. I have been in banking for over 30 years now and I still find it exciting,” Stephens emphasized. “It’s challenging and worth doing.”
Stephens got into banking when she was 16, and still in high school. “I started as a co-op student so to be truthful about what attracted me I guess I would say it was a nice job in my hometown after I finished class,” she recalled. “But if you were to ask me what has kept me in banking all these years I would have to say the people served by my local community bank.”
She believes that its community banks that make “immeasurable differences” in their communities. “This is not only providing necessary financial services but also providing community leadership, tax base, local support, career opportunities and more.”
Stephens said she enjoyed all three sessions offered as part of the ELP finding them relevant to what is going on or coming into the banking industry.
Value of Cloud Computing
Patel told the ELP group that that it’s all about technology for the bank of the future, with customers using their smart phones to pay bills, close loans, getting balances and no paper involved in the transaction. “The technology exists now, but the infrastructure does not that could tie it all together; but it is coming,” he said.
Patel also told the emerging leaders group that you can’t manage all of these technologies at one bank. “You will need multiple vendors. The future for bankers is a network of vendors making technology work for banks with minimal to no paper in the process.”
He went on to explain the value of Cloud computing and the role it will play helping smaller community banks compete with big banks. Cloud computing provides computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. Parallels to this concept can be drawn with the electricity grid, where end-consumers get power without needing to understand the component devices or infrastructure required to provide the service.
The concept of cloud computing fills a perpetual need of IT: a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. The concept will help community banks save money and allow for easy scaling.
According to Stephens, Patel’s presentation was very enlightening by focusing on what technology is coming to banks in the future. “That kind of information can help me start thinking about how it will help our business be effective and competitive and continue delivering excellent products and services,” she added.
Public Policy Impact
Former ICBA chairman MacPhee gave an overview of how he got into community banking leadership at both the state and national levels. He focused on how common sense can speak to power and told the future banking leaders that they can contribute. “You don’t have to be a Harvard PhD to make a difference. You can all do it. Your involvement is important.”
MacPhee also went on to explain the importance of a two tiered system of bank regulation and addressed the issue of speaking in one voice where and when it makes sense for community banks to do so.
Social Media Etiquette
Eide emphasized that social media will continue to be a major marketing source for community banks and he outlined guidelines for the emerging leaders to consider at their community banks when using the medium.
“Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn have experienced significant growth during the past few years. While not discouraging employees from joining these global conversations, it is important to understand what is recommended, expected, and required when associates use social media, especially in regard to topics related to your bank,” he emphasized.
Eide recommended well-established guidelines when communicating publicly, whether to the marketplace or to the general public; and only those associates who are officially designated by the bank should be authorized to speak.
Eide provided the ELP participants with his firm’s general guidelines which apply whenever using social media, whether in a personally identifiable way or anonymously. These include:
- Know and follow the guidance provided by your bank’s code of ethics and conduct with respect to computer security and related issues.
- Know and follow the guidance provided by your bank’s Associate Handbook for your region, including, but not limited to, the firm’s policies on anti-harassment and on providing employment references.
- Ensure banking information is kept confidential.
- Only designated associates may officially speak on behalf of the bank on products or services.
- Keep in mind that anything said related to work will be a reflection of the bank’s brand.
- When discussing the bank, its associates, or clients, behave in the same manner that would be acceptable in the workplace.
- Respect copyright and fair use requirements.
- Make sure that online activities do not interfere with job or commitments to customers.
- Protect privacy. What is published – and what others publish will be public for a long time.
Community outreach is important, Eide said, and you want to do a good job in the community. “People need to know that. You need to show it in your communities. People do business with people not companies, and that is what social media is all about,” he said. “Find a way to harness the power and mitigate the risk.”
Stephens added that Eide gave an excellent presentation exploring the responsibilities and potential that social media creates for marketing and customer service opportunities. She also noted the importance of community outreach and enjoys talking to high school students about the opportunities available in an industry that is going through technology changes.
“I tell young people that a career in banking incorporates just about everything and very little of it is about math,” she noted. “They have calculator programs for that.”
For Stephens, community banking has employed every possible skill within her. “I have been fortunate to have experienced almost every department within my organization. My bank is like any other business and requires human resources, customer service, financial specialists, operational programs, technology, communication systems, marketing, sales and personnel.”
Stephens attended the CBM Convention with Shelly Rutter, president/CEO of Mayville State Bank. Rutter was in attendance at the CBM Directors College, which ran concurrently with the ELP presentations. “I am grateful that CBM offers interesting training for conference attendees,” Stephens added.