May 11 – Aided by results of a far-reaching survey, the Nebraska Bankers Association mapped out the road ahead in a dramatically changing industry at the recent annual convention in Omaha.
George Morvis, founder, president and CEO of Financial Shares Corp., the Chicago-based consulting firm employed for a nearly year-long study.
In an interview prior to Morvis’s presentation, NBA President and CEO Richard Baier explained the rationale for the effort, citing as factors the recent retirements of two long-time key staff members and the reduced number of bank charters.
“Wondering what the industry will look like long-term in the state of Nebraska and putting that with the confluence of technology and its impact,” Baier said, “we decided we had better step back and take a look at where the NBA needs to be to support the industry in the next few years.”
Morvis, whose firm has extensive experience working with trade associations and their non-profit arms, began by describing the process for the study, which involved written and online surveys, one-on-one small group interviews with key organizational participants, selected members and non- members, and selected groups including staff, past chairmen and leadership alums. Strategic planning sessions were held with the NBA board in December 2016 and March 2017, and NBA management and staff in February this year.
The NBA is currently operating from a position of strength Morvis pointed out, and he cited as supporting factors solid financial position; high member satisfaction and involvement; high industry penetration at more than 90 percent; and a well-performing Nebraska banking industry.
Among industry challenges identified in the study were a consolidating and concentrated banking market; an aging and increasingly diverse population; the currently struggling ag economy; and competition from tax-advantaged credit unions, the Farm Credit System and non-regulated fintechs.
Weighing these strengths and weaknesses led to a determination that a greater internal focus was merited. Strategic goals and objectives were established and among them were increasing organizational efficiency; enhancing organizational effectiveness; and improving advocacy and promotion.
Increasing efficiency, Morvis pointed out, requires critically reevaluating cost structure. Recommended tactics include identifying opportunities to deploy technology at lower costs, assessing the viability of insourcing a portion of the lobbying effort, and reviewing opportunities to outsource other functions.
Included under the category of organizational effectiveness was improving the sphere of influence within member institutions. Morvis suggested as tactics evaluating member retention strategies — dues impact, product utilization and leadership visits; engaging next-generation banking leaders through talent development; and leveraging the millennial focus of networking and community service.
Among strategies called for to strengthen promotion were preparing and executing a marketing plan focused on the positive impacts of local banks and bankers on small business, farming and the community; evaluating the merits and impact on consumers of a comprehensive public image/awareness campaign; and leading a state-wide discussion on improving financial literacy.
Ramping up activities that promote banking as a career was also among the recommendations of the study. Increased marketing of an NBA careers website to institutions of higher learning and local chambers of commerce across the state was recommended, along with expanding efforts to help place students interested in banking internships.
Elected NBA chairman for 2017-2018 during the convention was Kristie Holoch, CEO of Cornerstone Bank, York. Installed as NBA chairman-elect was Dave Dannehl, president and CEO of First State Bank of Loomis. Holoch is the third member of her immediate family to serve as NBA chairman, following her father, Kelly Holthus (1986-87), and her late brother, Kendell Holthus (2011-2012).