2009 Conference Highlights

Thank you for coming, for sharing your ideas, and asking good questions at American Banker and RMA's 14th Annual Small Business Banking Conference.

From the keynote presentations, Monday morning: Matt Gambs' community bank perspective and encouragement to focus on the customers we want most to serve; Cathy Nash's conversation with us about "what your CEOs should ask you and what you should be telling them" about small business sales and profitability; Bill Dawson's rich description of the sales and sales management infrastructure he has developed at Scotiabank; Bob Neuhaus' conversation with three business owners — not all good news, suspicious of banks.

From the track sessions:

Credit – In Rich Henderson's words, "let's not waste a good recession" - terrific discussion about scoring models, their strengths and weaknesses, their efficacy in the small and enlarge and of the small business market, and their inability to predict accurately "ability" to repay; strong encouragement to pair scoring models and scorecards with active portfolio management to reduce risk to acceptable levels and types. After a peak in early 2008, US commercial and small business loan growth plummeted. Accommodation lending is the norm.

Deposits – Small Business deposits are especially valuable: 14% revenue share represents 25% of banks' market cap. Annual growth of small business deposits has fallen below the consumer to under 2%, for the first time in many years. Strategies to maintain or increase the positive growth include: develop a strong small business banking strategy for each market, align field sales resources with local market opportunity, identify over/under performing branch locations compared to their specific market characteristics, set goals by market, and know your competitors and their products inside and out. Sensible counsel, easy to say, not easy to execute.

Marketing and Sales Management - Customer Experience: The critical importance of senior-level sponsorship and granular measurement of customer experience data down to the individual contributor level. Online marketing: small business owners prefer to learn about bank services by reading rather receiving telephone calls. Segmenting for deposit growth: Aligning field sales resources with targeted business types and sizes. Specialty sales forces: investing patiently over a period of years to develop the expertise and value propositions and networks that leads to higher than normal gains in market share and wallet share.

Then the Tuesday morning keynote presentations: Ginger Siegel's challenge to us to develop better value propositions, tighter sales execution, and more/better coaching and training. The "Wizard's Panel" whose messages of focus, measurement, and accountability reinforced themes from earlier presentations. One highlight of our mobile banking session was the speed with which mobile banking is expected to scale over the next 1-2 years - much faster (i.e., faster than the time it took for Facebook to reach its current size), and 10X faster than the time it took for online banking to scale). And congratulations to TD Bank for earning the 2009 J. D. Power Customer Satisfaction Award for a third year in a row.

So much good input in such a short period of time. I hope the connections that you made in Chicago will serve you well during the coming months and years. I wish you the best, thank you again for coming, and look forward to continuing the discussion next year.


Nick Miller, President, Clarity Advantage
Conference Chairman