Maybe it's a reflection of the industry's good times, but this year's American Bankers Association annual convention in Orlando seems more focused on fun than anything else.
The three-day conference was to open Saturday with a three-hour "ABA Academy of Golf," which fits into the first day's theme: "Stretch your body and your mind." Other outdoor options - arranged, of course, without knowledge that a hurricane would be threatening Florida over the weekend - were to include a 90-minute tennis clinic and a nature hike.
"We are appealing to our audience," said Douglas Adamson, the ABA's executive director for professional development. "Obviously some of our guys would like to work on their golf swing."
Indeed, the ABA has hired legendary pro Greg Norman to man a booth in the exhibit hall. "The Shark" will analyze members' techniques and offer tips.
Roughly 2,500 bankers and vendors will fill three amenity-laden hotels offering golf, horseback riding, white-sand beaches, pools, bicycle riding, massage therapy, and spas. The Walt Disney World attractions are less than five miles away.
For this convention, the ABA has scheduled just 13 business-related workshops-six fewer than last year's meeting in Boston and about half as many as the 1996 conference in Honolulu.
For those bankers who don't golf, play tennis, or hike, three-hour workshops about the Internet, public speaking, and funding of balance sheet shortfalls were set for Saturday.
Sunday was to kick off with a "Socratic discussion" on the impact a year-2000 crisis could have on the banking industry. Closing the morning, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Donna Tanoue was to speak about the need to charge banks with riskier portfolios more for deposit insurance.
The Sunday afternoon schedule features a choice among four 90-minute sessions: creating new products, customer service, benchmarking, and year- 2000 compliance.
The ABA gets down to business Monday. At 8 a.m. members are expected to elect as their president R. Scott Jones, who is chairman and CEO of Goodhue County National Bank in Red Wing, Minn. Then they are to hear Washington pundits discuss the fall congressional elections.
Next up is a session on electronic commerce and then a speech by acting Comptroller of the Currency Julie L. Williams, who is expected to discuss consumer lending.
The afternoon includes seven 90-minute workshops, all on banking. They cover sales strategies, tax issues for S corporations, teamwork, insurance agency acquisitions, and human resource management.
Departing ABA president William T. McConnell, chairman and CEO of Park National Corp. in Newark, Ohio, was to be honored at a party Saturday night.
At Monday night's shindig, saluting Mr. Jones, the cabaret singer Maureen McGovern and the Broadway composer Marvin Hamlisch will both perform.