Advancing Your Culture

With the largest gathering of Wisconsin bank executives going fully virtual, WBA is excited to offer a new and creative approach to your annual Bank Execs Conference, or “Bank Execs” as many have come to call it. The theme of 2021’s Bank Executives Conference is “Advancing Your Culture” and will be held from Feb. 1-3.  

This event will address the countless aspects of culture that impact your bank and the industry topics unique to Wisconsin bankers to best prepare you for 2021. Attendees will benefit from live presentations with keynote speakers, connect with hundreds of bank leaders from across the Badger State, and be able to bring along 10 staff members for one fee.  

Even as this year’s conference shifts to a virtual format, we haven’t forgotten how important networking is to you. Peer groups during the event will allow participants the opportunity to speak with bankers in similar positions in other Wisconsin community banks, including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CCOs, HR leaders, lending managers, retail managers, and more.  

The 2021 WBA Bank Executives Conference kicks off on Monday, Feb. 1 with opening remarks from WBA Board Chairman Paul Kohler, Charter Bank, as well as some helpful tips on accessing and taking advantage of the conference’s virtual platform. The opening session, “Advancing Your Culture” will offer an overview of the innovative approaches your bank can take to expanding your culture.   

On Tuesday, Mark Zinder of Mark Zinder & Associates will address the potential impacts of the pandemic during the first presentation, “Is It Different This Time?” He will also explore the more current events that are not rooted in any historical context that might have you asking, “Is this time really different?”  

Zinder will reflect on the pandemic by discussing the aftermath of other crises throughout history. This includes how the Bubonic Plague presented a chance to change the way the economy worked and who it served as well as the new tools used after the Great Depression to ensure another similar event would cease to happen. He will further address the ‘Golden Age of Labor,’ how we currently have an opportunity to “remake” the global economy that will benefit the many vs. the very few, and how it is that the government flooded the market with liquidity, but inflation is nowhere in sight.  

Tuesday will also have an allotted hour to visit with conference exhibitors in their virtual booths. It’s as simple as clicking on their exhibitor profile and then “Join Virtual Booth” to connect with your partners and colleagues. 

On Wednesday, after an Economic Outlook, the presentation “Inclusive Leadership: Unconscious Bias, Trust and Decision-Making" will feature keynote speaker Deborah Biddle, founder and chief consultant of The People Company LLC. Biddle will discuss how an inclusive work culture promotes innovation, productivity, and profitability.  

This session will address your leadership role in embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion within your organization. During this session, bankers will discover why inclusive leadership is an essential skill for developing high functioning teams, uncover key skills for leading inclusively, explore how unconscious bias affects decision-making and workplace inclusion, and learn success factors for highly inclusive leaders.  

During the final session of the day, Dr. Fred Johnson, CEO and founder of InitiativeOne will be presenting “Create a Championship Culture Within Your Organization” to show how to develop a championship workplace that current and future employees want to be a part of. He will share leadership lessons from his time in NFL locker rooms and help you to identify your team’s strengths and talents with a focus on goal setting that delivers world class impact and results.  

Continuing with tradition, this year will once again be honoring 50 and 60 Year Club Members and celebrating the Banker of the Year. Once the sessions have concluded, you’ll continue to have full access to the conference via WBA’s virtual library. This library of several additional "on-demand" presentations will be available at any time through March 5, 2021.  

New this year will be a virtual silent auction powered by GiveSmart to raise funds for the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation. Over the course of all three event days, attendees will be able to seamlessly bid on donated auction items using their computer or phone. You can also receive notifications if someone has outbid you on an item. Prizes in the past have included a collection of pieces from the Museum of Wisconsin Art, resort packages, and tickets to a variety of events such as Bucks games, Badger games, and the Milwaukee Symphony.  

If you’re interested in donating a prize for this year’s silent auction or to learn more about how the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation advocates for financial literacy through programs like their Reading Raises Interest Kits, please contact

The virtual edition of Bank Execs will host a Virtual Exhibit Booth for each attendee. These booths will include access to the full conference and the conference attendee list, bank titles, and a profile created on the virtual platform. You’ll also be able to add content to your virtual booth, including a video library, links to your website or video hosting sites, a resource library, white papers, and more.  

WBA also offers the opportunity to upgrade your virtual presence this year by becoming an event sponsor. Event sponsors receive all the benefits of a virtual exhibitor, plus verbal recognition during a live keynote speech, recognition in promotional emails, on WBA’s website, and on a welcome PowerPoint that will loop before each live session. Other benefits include the option to have a pre-recorded educational webinar provided and presented to bankers in an on-demand content library, and to provide an item in our “conference kit” that will be mailed to all participating banks. Contact for more information on customizing your event sponsorship! 

To learn more about the 2021 WBA Bank Executives Conference or to register, click here.

By, Ally Bates