Bank Director’s 2017 Acquire or Be Acquired Conference

Sunday, January 29th, may seem like quite a ways off… but not for my team at Bank Director.  Indeed, we are full-steam ahead as we prepare to host the premier banking event for CEOs, senior management and board members: our Acquire or Be Acquired Conference.  AOBA continues to draw key leaders together in order to explore financial growth options; in 2017, we host this three-day program at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge in Phoenix, AZ.

Each month, Tim Melvin shares nuanced observations on the banking space in his Community Bank Investor Newsletter.  In his October 2016 edition, he points out that “scale and earnings growth are still among the main drivers of M&A activity, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.”  Clearly, the need and desire to grow exists at virtually every organization, something I’ve picked up on while talking with bank CEOs about next January’s event.

2016 AOBA Demographics c:o Bank Director and Al Dominick

As you can see from this image, our 22nd annual Acquire or Be Acquired Conference brought together key leaders from across the country.  I addition to the 590+ bankers in attendance, an additional 300+ executives from leading professional services and product companies joined us.  During (and following) our time in the desert, I shared various observations on this site (e.g. Five Reasons Why Banks Might Consider Selling in 2016 and Community and Regional Banks are Crucial to the Vibrancy of Our Communities).  In the simplest of terms, I left Arizona with a sense that more bank boards and their management teams were seriously considering M&A as a growth plan than perhaps in previous years — a view formed by the continued margin pressure that banks have been operating under for the last several years.

Ironically, there is a growing likelihood that the bank M&A market in 2016 will see declines in both deal volume and pricing compared to the previous two years, even as the industry’s underlying fundamentals remain relatively unchanged.  Nonetheless, registration patterns for 2017 suggest an increase in bank executive’s appetites to explore a merger, to prepare for an acquisition, to grow loans, to capturing efficiencies & managing capital to partnering with fintech companies (*all topics that will be covered in ’17).  So for those of you looking to refine and/or enhance your growth playbook, I invite you to review the agenda for January’s program that we just updated on BankDirector.com.

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FWIW: we have welcomed over 5,000 CEOs, Chairmen and members of a bank’s board to this conference over the years, and we anticipate 2017 will be the biggest ever – with over 900 attendees focused on the future of their banks.  Most come with one or more officers of their bank and yes, many bring their spouses.

Banking on Millennials?

I’m in Newport Beach, California where I just presented at Moss Adams’ 15th annual Community Banking conference.  In tandem with Bank Director’s Publisher, Kelsey Weaver, we focused our remarks on the intersection of fintech companies with traditional banks — and how partnerships potentially position community banks to better serve millennials.

By Al Dominick // @aldominick

In our recent “talent-focused” digital issue of Bank Director magazine, we reminded readers that “as baby boomers retire and Generation X enters middle age, it’s not surprising that top executives and boards are turning an eye more aggressively toward seeding their banks for the future. But, when it comes to recruiting and retaining younger people, banks have a bit of a public relations problem.”  This opinion formed the early foundation for today’s presentation — one that allowed Kelsey and me to share our thoughts on how and where bankers might invest in a generation consisting of 75 million Americans.  Without re-creating our hour-long remarks, here are three of the points I hope stood out to attendees:

  • Loyalty < Price. In classic economic terms, banking is a mature industry (that is, an industry in which price carries the day over any other offering).  Interestingly, many community banks tout their interests and ability to compete with larger institutions based on their customer service models.  However, the expectations of consumers (be it individual or business) have changed to reflect an “always-on, always available” mindset that does not line up with how many community banks operate.
  • You’re not alone.  I mentioned the San Francisco 49ers were recently featured in the Wall Street Journal — not for football purposes; rather, to show how the franchise has taken steps to better engage with their millennial employee base. As I shared, the team’s challenge to “relate to a generation — generally described as 18-to-34-year-olds — that has been raised on smartphones and instant information” parallels that of most banks in the U.S.  I promised attendees I’d post the link to the piece I wrote that features the Journal’s report… Promise fulfilled.
  • There are Friendly Fintech looking for you. Competition comes in many shapes and forms and I believe that banks are acting too slowly when it comes to digital transformations and offerings. Yes, there are truly disruptive fintech companies that have zero interest in aligning with traditional financial institutions.  However, there are quite a few that have built platforms that engage with consumers (both individual and business) that want to support banks as part of a mutually beneficial relationship.  In our presentation, one of the key pieces is a look at who is friendly to banks in the fintech space (juxtaposed with those that are obviously competitive).  If you’re interested, here is a link to the PDF version: Moss Adams 2015 presentation by Bank Director.

Separate from our presentation, let me encourage readers interested in building customer loyalty to check out the work of James Kane.  He opened the conference yesterday morning by presenting “The Loyalty Switch: How to Make Anyone Loyal to You, Your Team, and Your Bank.”  A smart speaker with an even smarter message.  Finally, thanks to our friends at Moss Adams for inviting our participation and the audience of CEOs, CFOs, Controllers, Internal Auditors, and Audit Committee Members from banks here on the west coast.  A privilege to share our perspectives with all of you this afternoon.

From Acquire or Be Acquired: A Video Recap of Today’s L. William Seidman CEO Panel

Former FDIC Chairman and Bank Director’s Publisher, the late Bill Seidman, was a huge advocate of a strong and healthy community bank system.  We honor his memory and this sentiment with a CEO panel each year.  My thanks to David Brooks, Chairman & CEO of the Independent Bank Group, Mark Grescovich, President & CEO of the Banner Corporation, Edward Garding, President & CEO of First Interstate BancSystem and Daryl Byrd, President & CEO of IBERIABANK, for sharing their thoughts on a variety of growth-related issues earlier today.

Community banks, meet social media?

I posted these thoughts on January 30 to my DCSpring21 blog… as I move away from sharing bank-specific thoughts on that site (in favor of this one), I thought to re-post in advance of a few pieces I’m working on.

no-one-said-this-would-be-easy

55%

… or, the final percentage that correlates to the results shared from a Q&A with bankers earlier this week. Sorry, it is not the percentage of turtle tiles found at the Phoenician’s pool. That would be too easy; although, the image does fit when you consider the number of banks using social media vs. those that are not.

No, this is a post about building a brand — and with it, customer loyalty and engagement. For those of us that have been in a business development position, it is oh-so-true that its not easy to build a brand. But make no mistake, the rewards can be immense should you succeed. And yes, the 55% foreshadows the end to this piece.

Admittedly, I thought about taking this post towards my last few company’s efforts to employ various social media tools. However, the importance of building a recognizable, memorable and relevant brand came up with numerous bank CEOs and Chairmen at our recently-concluded Acquire or Be Acquired conference. To a man, they acknowledged the stakes to successfully position a bank are higher than ever, what with the growing popularity of credit unions, new technology and ever-emerging social media platforms. Even more so when a bank customer’s product adoption and brand loyalty is measured at the speed of a tweet or a post. Clearly, the integrity of a brand becomes critical.

So I was/am SHOCKED that more community banks haven’t hitched their wagons to the social media wagon. This is not speculation or wild assumption. Its based on hard fact.

Let me take a step back and explain. We welcomed 275 banks to the Phoenician for our 19th Acquire or Be Acquired this past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday — with a CEO, Chairman, CFO or director attending. I believe (but don’t have the final numbers in hand) that of the 720+ attendees, 575 worked for a bank. I share these numbers as a lead into this question I raised:

Question: How many of you are successfully using these on a daily basis to engage with your customers and potential customers. I’m going to ask ONLY the bankers in attendance to answer this one — and answer on behalf of your bank, not yourself. So you might be a proficient twitter’r, have more than 500 connections on your personal LinkedIn account and have been sharing pictures of this conference on FaceBook with your friends and family. But we’re curious how the banks here are making social media work for them.

The results pulled via an audience response system are startling — and suggest that those in the social media business have ample opportunity at community banks if they can show a bank’s directors and officers how the following ties into their business. The raw results:

  • Facebook = 33%
  • LinkedIn = 11%
  • Twitter = 4%
  • Pinterest = 0%
  • We do not use social media = 55%.

Wow.

Go west young man?

Yup, that's me moderating a point-counterpoint session on bank M&A
*That’s me on the far left moderating a point-counterpoint at our annual M&A conference

As I head west (to Los Angeles for a few days of meetings), I started to re-read a few recent M&A outlooks for 2013.  Admittedly, I have a pretty long collection of white papers, analyst reports and opinion pieces in my Dropbox thank to our recently wrapped up Acquire or Be Acquired conference.  As I dig through the various projections, it strikes me that capital, liquidity and credit have improved at many U.S. banks since I rejoined the financial community in September of 2010.

Now, I draw no parallel to my return and this improvement — but do take comfort in hearing so many bank executives and board members voice more and more optimism about their months ahead.  That said, when I look back at 2012, I think few would contest that it was a year plagued with limited loan growth & intense margin pressure.

I share this as I think about the factors that will spark more M&A deals in 2013 than 2012. Fortuitously for today’s piece, I have some “inside” knowledge to share.  You see, with more than 700+ joining us at the Phoenician at the end of January, I had the chance to moderate a panel composed of two attorneys and two investment bankers.  I asked each to take a stance — pro or con — on the following statements before opening things up to the audience (of bank CEOs, CFOs, Chairmen and board members from 275 community banks).  What did we find?

  • 68% responded that 2013 will be the best year for bank M&A since the financial crisis of 2008.
  • It was a near dead heat (52% taking the con) that pricing for a well performing bank less than $1 billion will not exceed 1.25X tangible book or less.
  • 58% voted that the primary obstacle to doing a deal will be unrealistic price expectations of sellers.
  • 60% voted that banks that are thinking of selling would be better off waiting until 2014 when valuations will be higher that they are likely to be in 2013.

Not surprisingly, a strong and vocal 72% disagreed with the idea that banks need to be a minimum of $1 billion in asset size to be competitive in today’s market.  While certain economies of scale tip in favor of those above our industry’s magic number, I have to agree with the majority on this one.  Yes, compliance costs continue to escalate — and regulatory burdens, well, don’t get me started…

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For more on this three-day conference, I encourage you to read “A Postcard from AOBA 2013.”  Penned by our editor, Jack Milligan, his gift with the written word writes circles around my amateur efforts.