On Aug. 13, we celebrated the 15th Annual WBA Chairman’s Membership Appreciation Golf Outing, and it was an outing like we’ve never seen before. Despite the meticulous and thorough physical distancing and other health precautions, the 130+ bankers and vendors gathered enjoyed a day on the links full of great networking opportunities. Thank you to everyone who attended, and especially to our sponsors and Associate Members who helped make this event possible. Thank you all for your continued support. 

The purpose of the outing, as the name suggests, is to thank WBA’s member banks. To all of the banks and bankers present at the outing, I extend my sincere thanks for your decision to support our industry through your membership in our association. This dedication demonstrates your commitment to Wisconsin’s banking industry and to your customers and neighbors. Also, I would be remiss if I did not express my thanks and appreciation to the exceptional companies who partner with the WBA as Associate Members. These companies provide the products and services community banks need to serve our customers in an increasingly competitive and fast-changing marketplace.

Networking, like at the golf outing, is an important component of professional development. Few tactics are more effective for banks to recruit and retain employees than supporting the growth of bank staff. By equipping bank staff with the latest information, techniques, and peer connections in their area of expertise, banks help ensure their clients and customers have access to a pool of experts.

Our association’s education and training offerings are second-to-none, and the new live, virtual offerings have the added benefit of promoting networking with non-competitors. Whether the topic is marketing practices, security concerns, or strategic direction, it’s simpler to share and give advice with peers outside your bank’s footprint.

Investing in your institution’s up-and-coming talent is especially important. WBA’s BOLT group and upcoming Emerging Leaders Virtual Series is a perfect opportunity. Since the program is virtual and presented in partnership with the Arkansas Bankers Association, Michigan Bankers Association, New Hampshire Bankers Association, and Ohio Bankers League, not only will attendees gain access to engaging and informative speakers and sessions, but also a broader network of non-competing bankers to lean on throughout their careers.

Banks can also engage their young talent by designating an emerging leader as the institution’s Advocacy Officer. This volunteer leadership role provides exposure and learning opportunities for the banker and enhances the bank’s connection with the association as well as promotes a deeper understanding of political advocacy. Learn more and designate an Advocacy Officer at your bank at www.wisbank.com/advocacy/advocacy-officers.

By investing in the growth and development of our industry’s future leaders—including their professional networks, formal training, and leadership opportunities—Wisconsin’s banking industry will help secure a successful future through these volatile times.

Kohler is President of Charter Bank, Eau Claire and WBA Chair.