The largest gathering of Wisconsin bank executives is just around the corner. The 2020 WBA Bank Executives Conference will be Feb. 3-5, featuring the theme "Think Different. Act Different. Be Different." Attendees will continue to benefit from informative speakers, invaluable networking opportunities, and entertainment although there will be new and different approaches throughout the event, all designed to enhance Wisconsin's biggest banking event of the year.

In the spirit of the conference theme, the event will be hosted at a different and new location: the newly expanded Kalahari Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells. The new space just opened in September 2019 featuring state-of-the-art event technology, larger meeting and exhibiting rooms, and a more casual atmosphere conducive to networking, the Kalahari embodies the idea of changing things up to enjoy greater results.

You've told us time and time again that networking is one of your favorite parts of coming to WBA events, with that in mind the conference will once again kick off the afternoon of Monday, February 3 with networking peer group meetings for c-suite bankers (CEO, CFO, CIO/CTO, CERO, COO), followed by a welcome reception and opportunities for dinner with WBA Associate Members. 

A different option of the day is our first-ever Innovation Alley. This is a part of our exhibit hall and was created to allow technology companies to demonstrate the latest and greatest in the FinTech space, where customer experience, data & analytics, regulation technology, and security are some of the technologies that will be on display. 

The event will offer a unique set of tools, techniques, and tactics for you and your bank's leaders to take innovative approaches to old and new obstacles alike that are specific to your institution. Each expert-led session was selected to give attendees the latest and greatest information to confront the different challenges facing banks today.

On Tuesday, the very first session encourages attendees to "Think Different" as Duncan Wardle, a 25-year veteran of Disney, focuses on how to think more audaciously to solve big and small challenges that lead to extraordinary results. Following this presentation, Lee Wetherington, Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., tackles the topic of fintech in a completely different way… Everyone has heard a lot about fintech. What is it? Why have it? The truly unanswered question is 'How do I lead my community bank to the right products and services to stay relevant?" That's the practical insight Wetherington will offer attendees. And that's just in the morning!

After a luncheon honoring 50 and 60 Year Club Members, Kim Ford, Executive Director of the U.S. Faster Payments Council, will dive into the future of payment systems.

"As an increasing number of faster payments solutions are introduced here in the U.S., the volume of transactions being processed through these solutions is growing. Now that the Federal Reserve has announced it is building a real time payment service, financial institutions and nonbank FinTech companies are further ramping up their investment in faster payments technology and solutions. During this session, we will explore dynamics around the proposed FedNow Service and what it means to the payments industry, discuss the variety of use cases for faster payments solutions, and address key changes that banks need to consider to ensure they are successful, such as a faster payments strategy, strong resilience, and fraud protection."

Following Ford, Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld will be giving an update on the Wisconsin Banking Industry, addressing key trends and challenges.

The last session of the day will feature former Wisconsin Badger Jake Wood, Cofounder and CEO of Team Rubicon. Attendees will benefit from hearing Wood's journey from college football's largest stadiums, to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the founding and development of America's fastest-growing disaster response organization, the highly acclaimed Team Rubicon.

After sessions wrap up for the day, attendees will enjoy the Chairman's Dinner, featuring the Banker of the Year Celebration, and a reception featuring a casino and (back by popular demand) the WBA Euchre Tournament. Additionally, dinner speaker Charlie Cook, The Cook Political Report, will share his take on the politics of the day including reporting on the Iowa Caucus which is being held at the same time as our conference. 

The first session on Wednesday takes a look at data analytics and how Seacoast Bank of Stuart, FL worked to make the most of its data. Jeff Lee, CMO at Seacoast Bank will speak on how Seacoast Bank oriented itself around using insights to drive value creation and take a closer look at their steps taken, challenges encountered, failures, and successes.

This year's Bank Executives Conference will conclude on Wednesday with economist Anirban Basu providing his take on the current state of the economy. Attendees will also hear the amazing story of Richard Montañez. Montañez, a janitor for PepsiCo's Rancho Cucamonga plant, took notice of a mistake on the Cheetos production line in 1976 and turned it into a life-changing snack idea. Today, Flamin' Hot Cheetos is a billion-dollar business, a cultural phenomenon, and proof that—no matter how different you appear—anyone can make a difference and accomplish their dreams. His amazing journey captures how developing a solid foundation of diversity and inclusion in today's business environment can ultimately drive external success.

To find out more about the 2020 WBA Bank Executives Conference or to register online, please visit