For any industry, success lies in energizing the next generation.
Banking is no different, but in recent years it has been challenging for the industry to line up the necessary depth needed to ensure that success.
A number of bankers associations are determined to change that.
The North Carolina Bankers Association on Monday kicked off its first conference for younger bankers, where neckties are virtually nonexistent and a trip to the bowling outing is set to replace an evening reception. The event is an extension of the North Carolina Young Bankers, a group formed about a year ago to "identify and foster the professional development of emerging leaders." Members range in age from 20 to 45.
The Pennsylvania Bankers Association last month debuted two videos featuring up-and-coming bankers as part of its inaugural Emerging Leaders Conference. Associations in Michigan, New Jersey and Oklahoma have similar groups.
The expectation is that efforts such as recruitment videos will show millennials what they can do in banking, while at the same time helping to "improve the perception of the industry," said Christine Cronkright, head of communications and marketing at the Pennsylvania Bankers Association.
"It's our hope that the peer-to-peer communication will be more effective and honest," Cronkright said.
The association's outreach resonated with Lindsey Riley, who switched careers to join Reliance Savings Bank in Altoona, Pa. "I've been in banking for just three short years, but have learned so much, not only about banking, but about people, business and life," she said.
Riley, a business banker, was among the seven individuals featured in the Pennsylvania Bankers Association's videos.
"I think younger individuals don't always understand the opportunities that arise from being in the banking world, not only from the standpoint of personal and professional success, but also from the difference you and your bank can make in the community," said Riley, a former teacher.
Designated groups are critical because young bankers are "the future of our industry," said David Beaver, chief financial officer of Uwharrie Capital in Albemarle, N.C. "As our baby boomers retire, somebody has to run the banks of the world. … Having something like this to facilitate education, networking and financial literacy is important to our economy worldwide."
In addition to incorporating themes such as advocacy, leadership and networking into programming, young bankers' groups are using social media, including Pennsylvania's videos, and informal outings such as North Carolina's bowling trip, to appeal to next-gen bankers. The key will be to keep refining the approach to appeal to more bankers.
"Every generation has different triggers … and we're learning that some of the millennial trends are very different than what we're used to seeing," Beaver said.
Other associations are revamping existing efforts to appeal to next-gen bankers.
The Arkansas Bankers Association, which held its first junior bankers conference in 1923, now positions the group as one dedicated to emerging leaders to broaden the program's appeal, said Kami Coleman, the trade group's vice president of professional development.
"We didn't want that 'young banker' title to sway anyone from attending," Coleman said. The biggest percentage of participants is in their 20s and 30s, though Coleman said some members are in their late 40s.
A similar program in Virginia has also evolved over the years. The Virginia Bankers Association offered a young-bankers program for nearly 30 years that was "very active for quite some time," said Bruce Whitehurst, the trade group's chief executive.
The program "dwindled" in the 1990s, Whitehurst said, largely due to industry consolidation. Around that time, several growing out-of-state banks, including NationsBank, SunTrust, BB&T, Wachovia and First Union swooped in and bought most of Virginia's biggest banks.
The group was reborn in 2009 as Emerging Bank Leaders, providing a way for the association to bring young bankers and the industry together. The bulk of the participants are millennials.
"What we call this group is a succession plan for Virginia banking," Whitehurst said.