IBAT’s Associate Member Advisory Council was established in 2006 to represent associate members and to serve as a resource for bankers, associate members and IBAT staff regarding emerging legislative and regulatory issues. The council’s mission is to enable IBAT associate members to maximize their membership investment and membership experience.
To mark the first decade of the council’s existence, and to highlight the contributions that IBAT’s associate members make to the Texas community banking industry, we are focusing this issue of “Best Practices” on that segment of our membership we posed several questions to William “Billy” Granville, chair of the council, and Janine Kasper, chair-elect. Billy is the founder, CEO and managing member of Granville Group. Janine works for Q2Software Inc., as strategic business development-channel manager.
IBAT: The Associate Member Advisory Council was established 10 years ago. In addition to providing a strong voice for associate members of IBAT, what other value do you think the council delivers to the organization?
JANINE KASPER: The council is also a strong advocate for IBAT, focusing on IBAT’s priorities such as bringing value to its member banks. IBAT was formed primarily for legislative advocacy for community banking, and the organized visits to the capitals in Austin and Washington, D.C., are a key component of this advocacy. The council makes an important contribution through both our personal involvement and through educating and encouraging associate members to participate in the process. The net effect is that we increase the number of constituents speaking on behalf of of community banking to our elected officials, and gain loyal supporters as associate members understand the significance of the process. The council also shares ideas and insights from our interactions with bankers. IBAT uses this information to implement policies that are beneficial to everyone, such as enhancing conferences and other events so that they meet the needs of IBAT’s member banks as well as all associate members.
BILLY GRANVILLE: To be a successful associate member, it’s critical to stay informed about the industry in general. The quarterly “Industry Update” conference calls, led by IBAT CEO Chris Williston, are a valuable resource for associate members. Chris provides bank performance metrics, M.&A trends, and legislative and regulatory updates among other topics.
Through the council’s “Information Exchanges” at the IBAT convention and leadership conference, as well as various associate member networking events around the state, we provide structured forums to hear success stories, learn more about IBAT resources and network with other IBAT associate members. In addition, IBAT member bank executives have participated in these events as speakers and or panelists.
IBAT: Billy, you’re coming to the end of your chairmanship of the council. What has the council accomplished during your tenure that you are particularly proud of?
BG: First, we have great people. We’ve been very successful in attracting and retaining bright and talented council members who are committed to our mission. They bring energy, meaningful discussion and fresh ideas, which has resulted in successful projects.
Second, we developed the White Paper entitled “Building Business Relationships with Texas Community Bankers” to help AMs enhance their sales and marketing efforts with IBAT member banks by enabling them to capture the sentiment of Texas community bankers as to the effectiveness of different sales techniques employed by vendors.
And third, associate member political action committee contributions have increased. We’ve seen more companies initiate PAC drives, and more member’s understand the importance of financial investment in our industry as it pertains to advocacy.
IBAT: Janine, you and Billy have worked closely together during his tenure as chairman of the council. As you take on that role, how do you want to build on the success you all have achieved over the last few years?
JK: Billy is an amazing leader and mentor, and following in his footsteps mean I have big shoes to fill. I am honored to have the opportunity to represent IBAT associate members to work with so many great bankers around Texas. My goal stepping into the chair role is to help associate members and IBAT continue to thrive as consolidation in the industry occurs. I hope to have a higher level of engagement regarding advocacy in the financial services industry and the role that we can play with IBAT to continue to help community banks remain independent and strong.
IBAT: There has been much written about challenges facing Texas community banks and how much the industry is changing. From your perspective, how do you see the industry changing? How do you think it’s affecting the relationship between associate members and bankers?
JK: The industry will experience change in three areas: technology, talent and the customer base we serve. Technology is allowing banks to be more notable but that technology requires a different skill set than is currently in place in most community banks. We will see a change in hiring requirements in certain positions and will likely have to embrace outsourcing and/or sharing resources between banks. The millennial generation is three times the size of the baby boomers. banks will need to change their products and their approach to attracting and retaining the segment. In addition, banks will need to change to satisfy customers of all ages who have similar behaviors and requirements as millennials.
The pace of change in the three areas described will impact the relationship between bankers and associate members. Some bankers look at an associate member has just a company that is trying to sell them something. Those who seek interaction and engagement from associate members will know more about what is in the market, options and availability of talent and resources. They’ll also know how data and analytics can help them interpret customer needs faster to not just reach but to drive products and services to meet needs that may not even be realized yet. Associate members have become more valuable to the banker.
BG: I see things in cycles. No doubt, there’s industry contraction driven by different factors. Obviously, Dodd-Frank is a game-changer in terms of increasing operating costs and regulatory burden in general. Also, the low interest-rate environment has been brutal to Community Banks. However, in my opinion the human capital issues surrounding aging bank leadership and succession planning are astronomical. In time, we will see Texas de novos because of entrepreneurial spirit and demand for community banking relationships in the marketplace.
Sometimes adversity can make you stronger. The current industry disruptions present an opportunity for associate members to strengthen and deepen their relationships with their bank clients by refining products and services, innovating, creating solutions for clients to solve their problems, etc..
IBAT: At each of the banker panels that the council has hosted for associate members, banker participants are asked what ‘one thing’ they wish vendors knew about bankers. Let’s turn the tables… if there was one thing you wish banker’s knew better about associate members, what would it be?
JK: “We don’t want to waste your time or ours.” We have sales quotas to make but most importantly we want to build a relationship with bankers. That relationship brings value to the banker potentially with the product or service we provide, but we can be a resource to the banker in so many other areas. We are another arrow in the quiver the banker can use. Bankers should talk openly with key providers about talent they need to hire, what their challenge with, where they are seen successes and how they want their bank to evolve. The better we understand the bank from a strategic perspective, the more we can contribute.
IBAT: The council has been “preaching the gospel” of engagement to their peers for a number of years. If there it is one thing that you wish every associate member understood about the community banking industry and/or IBAT, what would it be?
JK: Every AM should understand that IBAT is not just another trade organization. Without IBAT, many community banks would not be able to survive. By supporting IBAT, the AM is supporting the industry they sell to. The AM can support IBAT by being an engaged, participative member. You don’t have to have a large budget. AMs should pick the events that are most relevant to their business and when they attend go to the sessions and receptions. AMs should also be a member of the Leadership Division, participate at the regional level, attend IBAT’s annual convention where they have a chance to be a part of a silent or live auction and, if possible, donate to the PAC. Whether the AM is exhibiting or sponsoring an event, our participation helps make attendance more affordable for bankers to attend, resulting in more prospects to sell to or existing relationships to enhance.
BG: “People buy from people.” A sale/engagement is not nearly a transaction between two entities; the foundation of the transaction many times is based upon human chemistry and trust between two human beings.
This article was first published on IBAT.org.