Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Danger Within: Banking Conferences

The boss goes to a banking conference and senior management worries what new idea he or she will come back to implement. Sound familiar?

I'm currently at a banking conference in Florida at a swanky hotel that I would not go to if not for work. Too pricey, too reserved, and too old. But I can't complain. I'm waiting for room service as I type. The accompanying picture was my work view yesterday.

Most conferences I attend the breakout sessions to learn from colleagues and other bankers. But there is a danger to this. Learn what? I thought of putting a couple slides from a presentation I attended but decided against it for professional courtesy. Although I doubt that courtesy would be extended by the presenter to me.

Although the trade association selects topics based on what they perceive to be the most relevant for attendees, they don't typically scrutinize the content beyond the session description.

This could be dangerous. You are giving an industry consultant free reign to say whatever they want, right, wrong, or untested. As a consultant myself, I believe you must demonstrate confidence in your subject matter to influence the audience. But presenting your philosophy as if it were emblazoned on stone tablets wreaks of arrogance. And unfortunately, this is occasionally what we get.

My purpose for this post, if you are a banker or credit union executive, is to encourage you to absorb education sessions using the lens of your personal experience and common sense to know if it makes sense for your institution. If you are an industry consultant, bring a little humility to your presentation. You're probably not as great as the Caesar you see in the mirror.

How do you distill information from conferences?

~ Jeff

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