The past year has opened the doors to a new era of community banking. Community banks have connected with a whole new group of customers through the Paycheck Protection Program, reinvigorating the longtime grassroots push toward local banking. In the midst of social distancing efforts, banks made further forays into digital channels. There have never been more opportunities to rethink and reimagine how community banks operate thanks to new technology and paths to growth.

Register for the 2021 LEAD FWD Summit

Go to to register for LEAD FWD. Those who register before Aug. 20 will get discounted early bird pricing and be guaranteed to receive a LEAD FWD box prior to the event.

The place to learn about this growth potential, the latest innovations and strategies to improve your leadership is ICBA’s LEAD FWD Summit, the country’s top leadership conference for community bankers. The 2021 LEAD FWD Summit, Sept. 21–22, will once again be held virtually, with no travel required. This means that community bankers from coast to coast will be able to take advantage of the insightful speakers, industry-leading education and interactive small-group challenges that ICBA’s LEAD FWD is known for.

All access

In 2020, the conference went virtual to ensure it was safe for all community bankers. This year, even as growing numbers of Americans are vaccinated and event restrictions are lifted, ICBA is choosing to keep it virtual to make the event open to more people than ever. This makes it less costly and easier for community banks to engage their most important asset: their employees. Plus, ICBA is using video and digital resources to better connect participants and to make the most of the virtual experience.

LEAD FWD is a natural way for community banks to reward and retain their employees. The two-day event will do that through motivational content, programming that will boost those increasingly important soft skills, and speakers and sessions that will enrich your and your employees’ leadership abilities.

As it has been in years past, this conference is not a listen-only event. Even though it’s virtual, LEAD FWD attendees are encouraged to leave their cameras on, keep their minds open and fully engage.

Broad appeal

While learning and development for community banks used to focus on compliance training, it’s become much more layered. LEAD FWD is relevant to staff in a wide variety of roles, from new managers to seasoned executives across the organization. Topics will range from new technology to banking principles and regulation. The conference can be a way to accelerate your career in community banking, make industrywide connections or simply get a wider perspective about the way community banks operate.

For updates on the conference’s keynote speakers, an itinerary of sessions and more information, visit for the latest information. —Eric Best

What attendees said about 2020’s virtual LEAD FWD

“The LEAD FWD Summit was a great opportunity to energize, network and learn key strategies to be a better, influential leader!”
—Vice president of financial systems and cashier
“I was nervous about attending a virtual conference. I was afraid it would be boring. It was anything but boring. Even though I was sitting in my office watching a screen, it felt like I was there. Each speaker had their own unique way of holding your attention in a very captivating manner. Technology was flawless. Well done, ICBA team!”
—Audit manager
“After the summit, I personally prefer virtual. It was just as enriching, educational and interactive as an in-person event.”
—Internal auditor