I look back on the past few months and wonder what happened to the spring and summer of 2020. Despite the many personal and professional challenges experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been spending some time each day in my office or at home trying to wrap my brain around lessons we have or should have learned throughout the process; what can we learn as families, bankers and community leaders? For me, the COVID lockdown reinforced the importance of gratitude.
On a personal level, like many families with college-aged children, our daughter returned home to finish the semester online and our medical student’s education was placed on hold for an extended period. While their return to our home often stressed our Wi-Fi, it also gave us time to reconnect without the numerous distractions experienced in today’s technologically driven world. We suddenly found ourselves eating more family meals, practicing our socially distanced golf game, taking family walks and even enjoying family game night. For these opportunities, our family will be eternally grateful.
At the NBA, COVID gave our team the opportunity to reevaluate operational plans, programs and activities while contemplating how to best represent the banking industry as our economy and country return to a new normal. Your NBA team was able to implement and conduct a real-time test of the NBA’s disaster recovery plan. I am pleased to report that our team managed to successfully work from home for more than six weeks with minimal problems. Granted, we also learned some valuable lessons such as the need for additional laptops, with many of those improvements already in process. My staff and our IT partners deserve a great deal of credit for helping us navigate these choppy waters. The reminder in this situation is to thank your partners and vendors for their support!
Another trend that was expedited as a result of the pandemic was the transition of meetings and banker education to more virtual delivery. I was not familiar with Zoom or WebEx a few short years ago. Today, our team has successfully migrated a large number of events to these platforms. I suspect our new normal will include fewer in-person events and more virtual options. Our experiences also reinforced that bankers benefit greatly from personal interactions. Therefore, I am thankful to our team for their innovation and creativity in delivering virtual events, but I will also be thankful to see and interact with our bankers in person. In the meantime, I encourage you to participate in the various NBA virtual events and also to follow the association on social media.
Our NBISCO, legal and finance teams worked with the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance to kick off the new Single Bank Pooled Collateral Program on July 1. This program allows Nebraska banks to establish a pool of collateralized securities pledged to its aggregate amount of public deposits above FDIC insured limits. First, I am grateful for the 28 Nebraska banks who were part of our user group as the program was developed and implemented. Second, I am also grateful to live and work in a state where the Nebraska Department of Banking worked on this program cooperatively as our partner. Third, I am grateful for the banks who joined the program on July 1 and to those who will be joining on August 1. This program can lower costs and improve efficiency for banks of all sizes. Lastly, I am thankful for a highly talented group of longtime and new staff members who finalized the implementation of this program in a mostly virtual environment.
Finally, watching the pandemic unfold and how my kids relied on video as their source of news, information and entertainment, I was reminded about the importance of proactively marketing our industry in new ways. For example, we know that our industry stepped up to implement the newly created Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with a focus on helping stabilize the national economy and sustaining our small business customers. While our Nebraska banks received positive regional and national press initially for their work on PPP, we must find ways to leverage this success and promote the importance of personal banking relationships for every generation.
The NBA Board of Directors recently directed resources toward the creation of a video marketing campaign that emphasizes the importance of strong, personal relationships with your Nebraska banker. Younger Nebraskans and those who may not traditionally see the importance of a personal banking relationship are our key target audience. The video will feature testimonials from Nebraska PPP recipients who benefited from their relationship with their bank when securing a PPP loan. Your NBA team engaged redthread, a Lincoln creative agency, to develop the campaign. When the video and related social and radio marketing rolls out, I would strongly encourage you and your marketing representatives to share this message on all your communications channels. Clearly, I am extremely proud of the work our NBA banks did to support PPP lending. I look forward to sharing this story.
Until next time, let’s keep working together to promote banking and create a better future for all Nebraskans.