ABA's National Conference for Community Bankers to Focus On Digital Transformation

Industry leaders will discuss 'actionable strategies' institutions can take to incorporate tech that meets customers' needs.

The banking industry is in a state of flux, as banks sort out whether and to what extent they should partner with upstart financial technology companies. Sometimes these partnerships are successful, and sometimes they are not. Banks are also trying to figure out how to use technology to attract and retain millennial customers, many of whom are fleeing large banks in favor of smaller banks and credit unions.

Community banks are being inundated by all of these trends, just as their larger counterparts are. The American Bankers Association National Conference for Community Bankers will discuss where the community banking industry is headed later this month and how banks are using IT to stay ahead of the curve. BizTech will be in Honolulu from Feb. 26-28 to bring you complete coverage of the conference.

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The stated theme of the conference is "Destination Transformation," essentially meaning digital transformation, and Jim Edrington, executive vice president of ABA's professional development group, says that a key goal of the conference is not to deliver pie-in-the-sky ideas about technology, but "actionable strategies you can put in place in your bank."

The conference will explore how the community banking model continues to "evolve and transform to meet the new requirements of banking, and most importantly of the bank's customers today," Edrington says. That revolves around the customer experience and connecting with customers in new ways outside of the traditional brick-and-mortar bank environment, he says.

On Feb. 26, a panel on digital lending will explore how community banks can use tech tools to streamline the lending process and allow customers to initiate it online.

Artificial intelligence will also be a key theme of the conference. On Feb. 27, futurist Mike Walsh will deliver a keynote address on how machine intelligence is transforming numerous industries. The conference will also host a panel that day on how machine learning can reshape core banking functions. Edrington says to take advantage of AI, community banks must use technology to normalize their data, which can be a "sticky wicket," especially for banks with legacy systems or data scattered across multiple systems. "You have got to tackle the data piece first," he says. "Then you can apply different algorithms to help you mine the data and make better decisions."

The need to address cybersecurity will suffuse the conference, Edrington says, and a panel on Feb. 27 will discuss using data and predictive analytics to improve compliance and reduce risk. On Feb. 28, there will be a "learning lab" session on detecting, responding and recovering from a cyberattack.

Overall, the conference will seek to help community bank leaders address how they can best respond to a world in which banking is increasingly mobile, and customers (especially younger ones) expect to have access to a full spectrum of bank services anywhere and at any time. Community banks, Edrington says, are not only streamlining their technology to meet those expectations but are also using social media to promote how they help their local communities and even the hobbies of their workers. Their goal is to present a different image to customers that they are not filled with traditional, buttoned-up bankers.

BizTech will cover keynotes and select sessions at the ABA National Conference for Community Bankers. Keep this page bookmarked for stories from the BizTech team. Follow us on Twitter at @BizTechMagazine or ABA's official Twitter account @ABABankers, and join the conversation using hashtag #ABANCCB.

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Feb 16 2018

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