Recap of the Source Media Small Business Banking Conference


 Editor's Note: The D3 Banking team recently attended the Small Business Banking Conferenc in Palm Beach Florida. In this blog, we review the show and discuss our biggest takeaways. Overall, we felt that the show was fairly successful and we will for sure be attending again in 2017!

When I arrived at the Source Media Small Business Banking Conference (SBBC) in Palm Beach, I was skeptical about its value to our company. We attended last year and were not overwhelmed. It seemed to us, as a digital banking solution provider, that the conference might be better called the Small Business Lending Conference. Most of the vendors and much of the content seemed to be focused on that area.

Nonetheless, we were willing to give it another shot largely because there just weren't many other options for reaching out to representatives from financial institutions that spend time thinking about the small business owner. It turns out this was the correct call. This year, there was a noticable shift in the interest of the attendees. Lending was still the biggest theme, but there were bankers in attendance who were thinking more about how to give small business owners the digital tools and capabilities they need.

This shift was also evident in the conference content. Christine Barry from the Aite Group did a breakout session for credit unions, sharing information from her research on what small businesses need and how technology can help serve in the delivery of those services. Jacob Jegher from Javelin, spoke to a standing room only crowd at lunch on Thursday, sharing research on three key areas where institutions can leverage technology to help small businesses get what they need to succeed.

The increasing focus on small businesses at this Source Media conference is not an isolated incident. The BAI Beacon conference offered a small business track and recently, published a report entitled Business Banking (Slowly) Goes Mobile, and though the report is lacking in terms of covering the providers in the industry (i.e., somehow they missed us!), it is an indicator of the increasing focus on small business banking. Having spoken to several of the analysts and research firms we do business with, I know that 2017 will see more reporting on the financial services needs of small businesses.

All this is good. However, it is important that those responsible for small business banking not repeat what some of their colleagues on the consumer banking side have done while trying to catch the digital train. Specifically, small business banking via digital channels must be approached by first establishing a strategy, not by reacting tactically when the bank or credit union CEO wants to know what is being done to help foster relationships with small businesses. On the consumer side, there are still institutions more willing to try to take tactical moves that make things look better than they are (i.e., they are putting "lipstick on a pig"). This is not a sound approach in any line of business.

The good news is that increasingly, some financial institutions are investing the time and resources required to define a digital strategy across their organizations. A good example of this is Arvest Bank with its BlueIQ, and First Tennessee Bank, which recently migrated a half a million users to a new digital platform, positioning itself for the next decade of digital evolution. IBERIABANK is making similar moves on the consumer and small business areas of their operations.

It is, in some ways, remarkable that it has taken this long for the trend to emerge given, unlike consumer digital channels, small business digital services offer various ways to monetize the relationships. It will be interesting to watch as this process continues. In the end, we will be at the Source Media Small Business Banking Conference next year. My vote is to have it in Palm Beach agin. It is a very n ice place to visit in November.