The Independent Community Bankers of America is doing its part to help its members continue their banking education.

Community Banker University, which the trade group announced Tuesday, will provide courses on topics ranging from wealth management and call reports to information technology and compliance. The platform, which will use a variety of channels such as in-person training and webinars, will help the organization emphasize education as the banking industry continues to go through regulatory change.

The program "is the ICBA's opportunity to really provide and support and empower the next generation of bankers," said Lindsay LaNore, executive vice president of the new initiative and a former principal consultant at Bequeaith Banking Solutions. "Ultimately, it is our goal to build better community bankers."

Community banks are facing numerous challenges, including mounting regulatory expectations and changing customer preferences, she said. Banks are also competing against Silicon Valley for top talent in technology fields.

Smaller banks can address these issues through continuing education and finding "that next level of leaders within their organizations," LaNore said. Additional training is something that bankers at all levels — from client-facing roles to top management — should think about, she said.

"No employee really should ever stop learning," LaNore said. "The industry, the environment, the laws, the regulations, the expectations, they will always continue to change. The way we can adapt and wrap our arms that is through continuing education programs and different learning experiences. They need to find those experiences that are going to provide the ideal and most relevant experience so when they go back to their bank they can bring tangible, valuable guidance."

However, LaNore doesn't believe there is a brain drain within the banking industry. Instead, small banks as a whole have ample opportunities to offer employees, including geographic diversity since they are located in rural, suburban and urban markets throughout the country.

"I've seen incredible talent in the industry," she said. "There are incredible opportunities for that next level of leaders. By providing relevant education and learning opportunities to these individuals, we can ultimately empower and inspire them to do great things at America's community banks."

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