If you joined LinkedIn and filled out your profile thinking it was essentially an online resume, you're probably missing out on a world of opportunity. Sure, LinkedIn's profile features are essentially the same questions you'd answer on a resume. But there are more than 150 million people there who are ready to do business. It is, after all, the professional social network. Here are four ideas that can help you turn LinkedIn into a prime source of new prospects for your business. MORE

President Signs JOBS Act

Late last week, President Obama signed the JOBS Act (H.R. 3606) which overwhelmingly passed Congress. IBAT and ICBA enthusiastically supported the measure as it contained an IBAT/ICBA-supported provision to raise the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration threshold for financial institutions from 500 shareholders to 2,000, and a provision to raise the de-registration threshold from 300 to 1200. These provisions are effective immediately.

ICBA has prepared an excellent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet that can be accessed here.

The SEC registration and de-registration provision is just one of the many community bank friendly provisions contained in the Communities First Act (H.R. 1697, S. 1600) that is being supported by IBAT and ICBA.

Successful PAC Drive

March has come and gone and with it the conclusion of the official PAC Drive Month. Judging from our mail, it appears that many of you conducted PAC Drives in your bank. We thank you! Remember, you have until Wednesday, April 18 to finish collecting your contributions and sending them to IBAT in time for the April 20th drawing for a catered barbeque dinner prepared and served by your IBAT staff.

Every PAC contribution counts toward helping to elect men and women who understand community banking and its role in the economic prosperity of Texas’ towns and cities. Help us keep spreading the word by supporting the IBAT PAC and IBAT FedPAC. Your future depends on it!

For more informarion, contact Mae Beth Palone, 512-474-6889.

IBAT Offices Closed April 6

In observance of Good Friday and the Easter Holiday weekend, the IBAT offices will be closed on Friday, April 6.  IBAT will reopen for normal business hours on Monday, April 9. 

Rethinking Online Communities

The following article originally appeared in the print edition of IBAT’s publication The Texas Independent Banker magazine.  

By Christopher Williston
For the past five years, community bankers have heard endless calls urging them to wander into the unfamiliar waters of online communities.  Timidly, some banks dipped in their toes.  Others jumped in, only to be left asking, “now what?”  Most ran screaming in the other direction.

“We block all of those sites,” one banker boasted recently.  It was clear that he saw Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites as little more than an unnecessary distraction that posed a risk to employee productivity.

Others have shared their concerns about security, noting that social media sites are a point of weakness where a single misclick can result in harmful malware infecting a bank computer.  

The practical reasons for a social media blackout are clear.  But are there unforeseen consequences of discouraging employees from using the sites?  

The population of social media sites is growing at exponential rates.  Facebook alone has more than 850 million users, half of whom log in on any given day.  LinkedIn, the business social network, touts 150 million users in 200 countries.  Sixty hours of new video are loaded to YouTube every minute.

With these statistics in mind it’s safe to assume that, in all likelihood, most of your employees are already using one or more of these sites to connect with their online communities.  And, with more than 50% of American adults now owning a smartphone, they don’t need their computer to access the sites and stay connected, even during work hours.

This begs the question:  does the blackout of social media sites send an unspoken message to employees that their lives in online social communities should be completely separate from their lives as community bankers?  

Read More

Leadership in Action

Recently, IBAT launched a new communication benefit for members of the Leadership Division and top-level management in member banks, the Leadership in Action newsletter.  Through a partnership with Multiview, an online publisher, IBAT has added another dimension to the benefits of being a member of Leadership Division.  

Published on Friday of each week, Leadership in Action will contain easy to read, practical resource articles focused on the areas of management, leadership, communications and team building.  

“With lives busier than ever, we don’t always have the time to seek out resources and read books that give us the skills to be more effective,” said Chris Williston, IBAT President and CEO.  “Leadership in Action is intended to be a short, directed source of practical reminders that will help community bank leaders succeed.”  

Among the articles in the first newsletter were, 6 Traits of Great Leaders and 5 Myths About Giving Praise.

In addition to providing resources for member bankers, Leadership in Action also represents a new opportunity for IBAT Associate Members to reach their audience through advertising.  

Leadership in Action is a free member benefit for those members of IBAT’s Leadership Division.  If you are interested in becoming an LD member, please download and complete a membership application.  If you have questions, please contact Mae Beth Palone at 512-474-6889 or mbpalone@ibat.org.

Impact Your Local Community

As community banks across the country work to promote April’s Community Banking month, IBAT and ICBA encourage Texas banks to take it one step further by beginning a Go Local campaign in their communities. 

Go Local is a grass-roots initiative encouraging consumers and business people alike to commit to first consider local options for everything from shopping, entertainment and yes, banking.  To assist banks with the initiative, ICBA has teamed up with MPI to equip member banks with tools and unique resources to promote the Go Local message in their own facilities and in local businesses.

These resources and more information about the Go Local campaign can be found by visiting the Go Local homepage.  As a consumer resource, ICBA has also created the Bank Local webpage, which enables consumers to find a community bank by entering their address.

New Dallas Fed SVP

Last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas announced that Ann Worthy has been promoted to Senior Vice President, and will be responsible for the Banking Supervision, Discount and Credit and Financial Industry Studies departments.
Worthy joined the Dallas Fed in 1969, and has extensive experience in all of her new areas of responsibility. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, as well as SWGSB.

IBAT extends congratulations to Ann, and we look forward to working with her in her new capacity.

Happy Community Banking Month

With the dawning of April, spring weather has settled into Texas and wildflowers are popping up from the formerly drought-stricken fields.  In addition to all of these reasons to celebrate, community bankers have one more: April is Community Banking Month!

IBAT encourages all member banks to say “thank you” to their customers and remind them why banking with a community bank is a better experience than the faceless, giant mega-bank down the street.  

Community banking month is also a great time to tell the story of why community banks are so vitally important to the communities they serve.  You can do this by writing an op-ed or letter to the editor of your local paper, or by reaching out to local radio/television stations to share a story about the real impact that you’ve made in the life of your customers.  

In addition to these ideas, ICBA has prepared a number of resources to help you facilitate your outreach efforts during community banking month including a customizable news release, and sample social media posts.

If you need assistance generating ideas for outreaching during community banking month, or would like to share what you’re doing to celebrate with the IBAT family, please contact Mae Beth Palone at mbpalone@ibat.org.

JOBS/SEC Bill to President

On March 27, 2012, the House finally passed by a vote of 380 to 41 the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act.  The legislation contains an IBAT/ICBA-supported provision to raise the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration threshold for financial institutions from 500 shareholders to 2,000.

The legislation also raises the de-registration threshold from 300 to 1,200, which would allow registered community banks to de-register following a stock buyback or consolidation of shareholders.

The legislation provided the SEC up to one year to write rules enacting this provision but Senate champion Kay Bailey Hutchison went on the Senate floor earlier today to provide much needed legislative intent that the provision be effective upon the date of enactment.  We will provide clarification on the effective date as soon as possible as we know that many IBAT members and community banks nationwide are anxious to utilize this important provision to grow their shareholder base and increase capital levels without incurring costly SEC registration or de-registration requirements.

Again, our sincere thanks to Senator Hutchison for her leadership on this issue.

Bob Hankins Retirement

Longtime Dallas Fed Executive Vice President Bob Hankins will be retiring April 1. Bob has been with the Federal Reserve System for 39 years, in Dallas since 1979, and has been responsible for banking supervision, discount window operations and reserve maintenance.

The IBAT Board of Directors passed a resolution honoring Bob for his years of service at their Board meeting held on March 8. IBAT was honored to have the opportunity to join a number of Bob’s friends in Dallas last week to present this resolution.  

“Bob Hankins has been a tremendous supporter of IBAT and community banking for years,” said Chris Williston, IBAT President and CEO. “We will miss working with our friend, and obviously wish him the best as he enters this well-deserved next phase of his life.”