For many of us, bank and credit union conferences allow the opportunity to step outside of our day-to-day norm and enter into a real-life showcase and lively conversation with like-minded banking professionals, industry leaders, and cutting-edge solution providers.

This year, however, has proven to be a bit different.

Just as the 2020 bank and credit union conference and trade show year got underway, the world was hit with the unfortunate circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Conferences, trade shows, and other large gatherings of all sorts have been postponed indefinitely or canceled outright. We were looking forward to a great line-up of trade shows, ourselves, through the spring and fall of 2020, having registered to attend many of the industry’s top shows – 12 of them, to be precise, but who was counting…? C’est la vie ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

While many conferences will be going to virtual events for the remainder of the year, there are a number of things bank and credit union employees can do to stay abreast of the latest technology, solutions, and conversations taking place in the marketplace – all from the safety and comfort of their socially-distanced world.

Benefits of Attending [traditional] Bank and Credit Union Conferences:

1. Mingle and network with peers inside and outside of our institution
2. Learn about new technologies and solutions
3. Gain inspiration and insights from presentations given by industry thought leaders
4. Assess and evaluate various vendors
5. And let’s be honest, visit cool cities and take cheesy sight-seeing tours

Here are some of the staple banking conferences we typically attend each year – and were lucky enough to squeeze in before the pandemic began to spread. Many are on pause this year, or hosting virtual ones:

  • BankWorld (CT)
    Our first show of 2020, and fortunately, held prior to the Coronavirus outbreak. We met with many community bank leaders in the greater New England and tristate area, and held a popular session on What Community Bankers Can Learn from Amazon. 
  • Carolinas LAUNCH (NC)
    From CT, we hit the road down south to Charlotte, NC where we caught up with our friends at credit unions in the Carolinas Region.
  • ICBA Live
    To complete our “tour” of the east coast, our final in-person banking trade show of 2020 concluded with our inaugural participation of the ICBA Live in early March.
ICBA banking conference 2020

7 Things to Do Without Banking Conferences this Year

Were you looking forward to attending a bank or credit union convention this year? Here are a few different ways you can stay informed, connected, and inspired in the absence of physical financial conferences this year.

1. Go Competitive Shopping – virtually

We all have brands and influences we aspire to be more like – and that doesn’t just have to be on Instagram and Pinterest.

As banking professionals, we should look to our peers, competitors, and leaders in our space to see the ways they are innovating and providing exceptional service to their customers and members. Comp shop your aspirational bank and credit unions and keep your eyes peeled for the vendors and solutions behind their features.

Ex. Check out what vendor is behind the new Chatbot on your competitor’s website.

Competitive shopping example. Looking at what products your competitors use

2. Participate in Virtual Bank Events

Visit the websites of the local, regional, and national bank and credit union leagues and associations to look for virtual banking events to participate in. American Bankers Association or the Credit Union National Association are great resources – or get the links from our Top 25 Conferences post.

photo of Virtual Bank Event

3. Sign Up for Email Alerts

From the associations behind the top conventions, as well as solutions providers. Sign up for the Engageware Buzz >

4. Listen to Industry News and Podcasts

Check out CU Broadcast, Banking Transformed from The Financial Brand, and the BAI Podcast series.

5. Attend Webinars (or watch/listen on-demand)

Most bank technology service providers are eager to share content with you. Sign up for live webinars, or search for on-demand webinars and listen at 1.5x speed (we love multi-tasking and efficiency!).

6. Schedule Virtual Coffee Hours with Banking Professionals

Who says you need someone else to host an expo for you? Be your own host and creative director — reach out to banking professionals (hint: start with a search for similar roles and titles on LinkedIn) and invite them to an informal Zoom coffee hour and discuss a topic of your choice. No preparation or budget needed!

Virtual bank event -coffee with banking professionals

7. Look for User Groups

Review the list of solution providers your institution utilizes and find out of they host virtual user group sessions. This is a great (and usually free) way to connect with users of the same technologies to share best practices, tips, and tricks.

2020 is certainly shaking out to be a challenging and trying year. But that doesn’t mean the learning and personal connections between banking professionals needs to be put on hold. In times like these, all it takes is a little more creativity and flexibility.

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