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ICBA’s Community Bank Mission Critical to 2023 Successes

If I could encapsulate 2023 in one statement, it would be this: never before has ICBA’s community bank-focused mission been more important.

At a time when consequential failures at large, risky banks led to major media outlets erroneously directing blame to Main Street community banks, ICBA was there defending and promoting the community banking business model—differentiating community banks when it was needed most.

Successful Year in Advocacy

In the wake of these large bank failures, ICBA went to the mat and advocated for community banks. We were aggressive in our stance: no community bank should have to pay for the sins of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank of New York.

In doing so, our work led to the FDIC’s special assessment exempting community banks with less than $5 billion in assets, while proposed capital and debt requirements target institutions over $100 billion in assets. This is real savings for our members that can be put back into doing what you do best—doing right by your customers and communities.

We were also effective in advancing our years-long fight opposing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Section 1071 small-business data-reporting rule. In addition to Congress passing an ICBA-advocated resolution to nullify the rule on a bipartisan vote, a federal court has granted an ICBA request to expand injunctive relief to all community banks nationwide, with the battle set to continue in the coming months.

Many other vital policy areas have seen successes this year, from cannabis banking legislation, central bank digital currency restrictions, SBA 7(a) reform corrections, and ACRE Act momentum to the Federal Reserve’s launch of FedNow, Rakuten’s withdrawal of its credit union charter application, and regulators’ assurances to Congress that community banks will be exempt from interagency climate risk principles amid ongoing ICBA objections. And our final complimentary banker briefing of 2023, which is available on demand, offers insights about key news and developments inside the Capital Beltway and across the nation.

Unlocking Potential Through Education

Fueled by ICBA’s commitment to unlocking the potential of community bankers, ICBA Education’s work to provide continuous learning, adaptability, accessibility, and networking is stronger than ever.

In 2023, ICBA Education hosted more than 50 seminars, certification institutes, conferences, and forums, with its Annual Current Issues Certification Conference experiencing unprecedented attendance. ICBA Education also achieved a historic benchmark, certifying more community bankers than ever in a single year. Notably, ICBA Education achieved a 94% renewal-retention rate among its Online Training Plan subscribers, indicating strong appreciation for the course content.

We also had a successful ICBA LIVE 2023 in Honolulu featuring more than 70 sessions and learning labs spanning six tracks while at the same time ensuring the community banking voice reached consumers and media outlets amid the large bank failures that occurred simultaneously. The past year was also marked by another successful ICBA LEAD FWD Summit—the No. 1 leadership conference for community bankers.

With keynote speakers and initial learning lab sessions set for ICBA LIVE 2024—scheduled for March 14-17 in Orlando, Fla.—2024 is shaping up to be another promising year for powering our industry’s potential through education and training. If you haven’t registered for ICBA LIVE in Orlando yet, register here and cross it off your to-do list. We can’t wait to see you there.

Continued Commitment to Innovation

This year also saw the continued evolution of ICBA Innovation and our ThinkTECH Accelerator program after we brought it in-house and shifted to year-round programming.

Our fifth Accelerator program included a Regulator Day that featured virtual meetings with federal and state regulators and a Demo Day focused on the future of real-time payments and deposit innovation. And we expanded our “demystified” webinar series, launched a series of ThinkTECH Solutions Forums, and expanded fintech partnership opportunities with the new ThinkTECH Connect.

More than 1,200 bankers participated in ICBA Innovation-related programming this year, and we look forward to continuing this growth in 2024—with our sixth Accelerator program slated to start next month. Community bankers also continue to tap our network of community bank-focused products and services, with more than 90% of our member banks using at least one ICBA Preferred Service Provider.

Differentiation and Elevation

And it doesn’t stop there. 2023 was the year of differentiation. Several ICBA differentiation efforts announced this year have been months and years in the making—and could not have come at a better time.

We launched the ICBA National Campaign—a national public awareness campaign that differentiates community banks from other entities and elevates our industry among consumers—amid the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank of New York. By sharing the community banking story and the importance of relationship banking at such a pivotal time, we helped consumers see the community bank difference.

ICBA later unveiled a major rebrand built to reflect the distinctiveness and strength of the industry and the organization and to position both for the next chapter of growth and continued success. This new brand—which included the introduction of ICBA Payments and ICBA Education—features a bold new visual identity, logo, and voice that reflects ICBA’s drive to power the potential of community banks across the nation.

Meanwhile, ICBA launched an open forum for our industry: ICBA Community. This peer-to-peer online platform—which has grown to nearly 2,000 members in less than six months—provides professional networking, discussion, and information-sharing opportunities to foster dialogue and promote community bankers’ growth and development.

Looking Ahead

Altogether, these monumental efforts have contributed to a 97% membership retention rate, reflecting the value of ICBA membership to community bankers nationwide.

I'm so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish at ICBA in 2023, and that’s all the more reason for us to continue to push forward in the coming year. With the passion and tenacity that connects our community bankers and staff with the ICBA mission, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.

Congratulations for all you have accomplished this year. And thank you for your efforts and engagement with ICBA. Let’s continue working to ensure the community banking story is amplified as we power the potential of every customer and community we serve.