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This year’s CBA Live conference in Dallas was an informative and energizing event that challenged attendees with relevant and thought-provoking topics including the role of banks and fintechs in delivering an outstanding customer experience.  It started with a lively discussion presented as a faux fight in a battle of the fintechs vs. the banks, trying to determine who will be the winner a few years down the road.  In the end, both sides shared their thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of seemingly opposing approaches, and generally agreed that a hybrid model that combines the best features of each business model would be in the best interests of today’s (and tomorrow’s) banking customers.

Next, football hall of fame and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach shared his insights on the importance of teamwork and preparation in creating a winning team.  He also shared how various team members can rise to the occasion and be leaders in their own way, and at their own time.  One saying that Roger shared seemed to truly capture the challenges that banks and other financial institutions are undergoing today, and is worth remembering when confronting our day-to-day challenges: “It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to achieve spectacular results.”  Definitely words to live by.

We at ath Power were honored to have been asked to moderate a small business banking session entitled “Driving Small Business Customer Engagement In The Digital Age” with three knowledgeable and engaging industry veterans.  Panelists Mollie Gawronski from BMO Harris Bank, Craig Sievertsen with Banner Bank, and Chris Ward from Citizens Bank offered great insight on key issues and trends to consider when designing and delivering small business digital banking solutions.

There were a wide variety of topics offered at the conference across such tracks as deposits and payments, digital channels, lending, fair and responsible banking, risk, and CFPB issues, to name a few.  One of the key takeaways was a realization that with the decline of community banks in many markets, there will be a void in advocacy for small businesses in these markets.  Without these institutions, which organizations will be willing and able to give the personal service and source of capital that burgeoning, yet sometimes fragile, small businesses need?

On a similar note, the changing competitive landscape will create challenges for institutions trying to serve their customers appropriately and fairly.  As was discussed in some sessions, institutions must have awareness of the potential for disparate treatment in the account application and approvals processes.   This means that systems must be in place, and reinforced through education and constant reinforcement, to ensure that worthy small businesses have the opportunity to blossom and grow.

All of this insight would not have been communicated so clearly and vividly were it not for CBA Live.  For those who attended, this is surely quite apparent.  But for those who did not or could not attend this year, they may want to add this event to their conference list next year.  It would likely be time well-spent – both for your institution or company – and for the industry.

For more information on CBA Live, visit


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