The trade group formerly known as the Independent Bankers Association of America unveiled its new name-the Independent Community Bankers of America-with its own version of a 1970s disco classic.
Before a rollicking crowd of some 1,100 bankers at last week's annual convention, the musical group Boys Night Out belted out a tune called "ICBA," a remake of the Village People's "YMCA." The group was joined on stage by the ICBA backup dancers, who included chairman William L. McQuillan, president Robert N. Barsness, and executive vice president Kenneth A. Guenther.
For those who missed it, here's one verse:
Bankers, don't be scared of big banks
We can fight back, we can strengthen our flanks
And get ready, to just crush 'em like tanks
There's a place for us, yes always
We're all a part of the ICBA.
The ICBA devoted four workshops over three days to new regulations requiring directors to understand their banks' investment strategies. The general consensus was that the rules would pose few compliance problems for community banks, though officials would have to produce several new reports detailing investment decisions.
"If you have the policies and procedures in place and you know what you are doing ... then you are going to have clear sailing," said C.J. Pickering, president of ICBA Securities.
Adopted by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council in May, the "Supervisory Policy Statements on Investment Securities and End User Derivative Activities" require banks to adopt risk-management strategies and specify ahead of time how much risk they are willing to accept on specific types of securities.
Many community bankers who attended this year's conference are still struggling to boost deposits.
But the title of one panel discussion, "Building Deposits with Nondeposit Products," had some scratching their heads.
This seeming contradiction was soon cleared up by William Reid, president of the ICBA's financial services subsidiary and the leader of the discussion.
Mr. Reid argued that the best way to boost deposits is to pay more for them. And banks can afford to do that only by boosting their income from fee-related sources, such as retirement products.
He pointed out that big banks, those with assets of $1 billion or more, now generate almost half of their revenues from fee income. As a result, he says, they can offer more competitive rates on CDs than smaller institutions.
"We need to have enough income from all sources to go out and get deposits," he said.
Banks rarely come out ahead financially by forcing delinquent borrowers into foreclosure, said Steven C. Turner, a partner at the Omaha law firm Baird, Holm, McEachen, Pedersen, Hamann & Strasheim.
"If you are able to come to some kind of negotiated solution, you will save yourself time and money," Mr. Turner said.
The burden is on the lender to devise an innovative solution, he said, noting that borrowers often are frantic just to make ends meet and often lack the time to devise long-term resolutions. "In nine-and-a-half out of 10 situations, your customer is not going to be in a position to sit back and figure out how to get it done," he said. "You need to provide the imagination."
ICBA education director Greg Martinson was wearing pink bunny slippers around the exhibit hall last Sunday, but not because he forgot to pack his shoes. He was promoting the ICBA's partnership with IBT Financial, a Bend, Ore., firm that provides on-line training to bank employees.
So what's the connection between bunny slippers and computer training? Simple. You don't have to leave the house-or even get dressed-for a computer-based course.
"You can even take a class in your fuzzy slippers," said Michele Zschau, IBT's president.