Make the most of your WBA membership

By Daryll Lund

For 130 years, the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) has strived to offer member banks expansive opportunities to grow and thrive within our industry. In being a member-led organization, the WBA highly encourages bankers of all levels to engage with educational and advocacy-related events, programs, and groups.

As part of its mission to support every member, WBA annually offers hundreds of educational opportunities — from one-hour webinars to five-day schools. While the main objective of all WBA programming is of course professional development, one significant benefit many of us have sincerely missed over the last several years is our ability to connect with one another.

The team at WBA regularly expresses to me how special it is to witness our member bankers — there are over 35,000 of them — meet and foster connections through WBA conferences, outings, and groups. As events continually return in person, I am excited to serve witness once again to the all the new ideas created and connections formed as many Wisconsin bankers reconvene for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

Since WBA’s inception, the development — both professionally and personally — of bankers has been a focal point in our mission to support Wisconsin’s banking industry.

In addition to the training and educational programs WBA offers throughout the year, there are many other volunteer opportunities that individual bankers of all levels may engage in.

These opportunities not only allow for bankers to gain further insight into a specific area of the bank from their peers but encourage them to ask questions and assist WBA staff members in creating meaningful and relevant programs, resources, and content for other bankers throughout the state. Volunteering as a WBA Advocacy Officer, attending the Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow (BOLT) Summit, or engaging with one of WBA’s Connect Peer Groups — to name just a few of the opportunities WBA offers to members — allows bankers the ability to make their voices heard throughout the industry.

As your bank looks ahead to all the programs, classes, and events that WBA will be hosting for the remainder of the year, we look forward to welcoming many of you back in person as well as assisting you and your teams in enhancing your connections to your industry and peers across the state.

As labor shortages wear on and baby boomers retire in droves, every industry is facing the issue of how to approach the younger generation, and banking is certainly no exception. Raised on technology and emerging trends, there is no doubt these kids know our future. After all, they are it. Each day, it becomes increasingly more important to reinvest our efforts into making sure our future is prepared to take on important roles in our society.

The trouble however is not understanding why banks should hire new, younger talent; they understand future technology and have the ability to use vast experiences to provide a non-banking perspective. The question remains how do banks promote careers in banking to a Gen Z.

Jim Johannes, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business professor emeritus of banking and finance, knows firsthand the way his students see banking: an app on their smartphone or a teller behind a screen. It’s a difficult task to grasp every aspect of banking without the ability to experience it directly. According to Jessica Fox-Wilson, director of Career Works at Beloit College, college students are impressively passionate and enthusiastic about what they do, and their lack of preconceived notions also makes them to be far more adaptable to an industry than a seasoned veteran may allow for.

Although, students typically don’t gravitate towards a career in banking, Kim Huntley, senior vice president of human resources at Waukesha State Bank, understands that new graduates from high school and college aspire to make lasting impacts on the communities; a trait perfectly aligned with the banking industry. Through community service and the ability to help foster growth in individuals and businesses in the community, banking offers just the type of rewarding work younger generations strive to achieve.

It’s difficult for many non-bankers to truly grasp the full scope of the industry without experiencing it directly. This means that “telling the banking story” (or, allowing those interested in the industry to fully see their impact) becomes that much more important, according to Johannes. Investing time to give interns the opportunity to allocate capital and see their work in action will make them much more invested in the functions of the job.

When drawing awareness to the different opportunities offered, it is important to consider the different skills that lend themselves to the banking industry. While accounting, finance, and mathematics remain as popular as ever, more and more students are graduating with focuses on communications, business, and computer science. Fox-Wilson highlights Beloit Colleges’ four core transferable skills that, regardless of the major, are evident in every college graduate: communication, collaboration, problem solving, and agility. Individuals who possess traits such as service and detail-orientation also hold the abilities that allow for a strong foundation. This means community banks are able focus their time on task-specific training.

Over the past few years, discussions regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been important to helping grow the banking industry. By making clear efforts into hiring talent from a broad range of experiences, banks will not only emphasize the potential in every person but allow for a collaborative and innovative environment where employees are invited to enact change through their own perspective. As Gen Z is known to value inclusivity, employers that demonstrate inclusive culture also become attractive employers. Striving to diversify the talent within banks ultimately leads to greater innovations and a well-rounded team.

While the public sees banking as mainly tellers, using opportunities when interacting students while guest speaking or at job fairs to highlight the many facets of the industry including IT, marketing, and human resources may convince the otherwise skeptical that a career in banking could be a good fit for them. Not only are these positions necessary to the bank, but they are also of increasing interest to graduates. Simply informing students of available opportunities can be a great way to drum-up interest in a specific industry.

New graduates are extremely motivated by advancement opportunities and is a major advantage to beginning a career in community banking. “Community banks are small enough to give employees opportunities to grow in several areas of the bank and would prefer to promote employees from within the bank before searching outside of it,” says Huntley. The benefit of learning and growing your career quickly is highly sought-after by younger, bright-eyed graduates, especially when skills learned on the job are applicable to other aspects of banking or their career.

Banking typically isn’t conceived by younger generations as a “glamorous” or trendy career choice, which makes it a bit trickier when convincing younger generations that they make a great fit for the industry. “If you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s just a great career,” says Johannes. “You make a difference in your community in meeting and interacting with a lot of very different people and you’re able to serve a huge social function by allocating credit and preserving the payments mechanism.” Banking also provides stability and work-life balance that is unlike many other industries. Highlighting benefits that resonate with new graduates, such as generous time off policies and the ability to spend holidays with family, help the industry stand apart.

Of course, the answer to how to recruit for banking careers is multidimensional. In working alongside schools and institutions of higher education to promote an accurate image of the full banking industry, community banks would have the ability to create connections and highlight the applicability of a wide range of skills in addition to financial literacy. By having a deep understanding of the career paths that would allow each employee to be successful, banks are able to equip employees with the needed skills in their career path long before openings arise and through creating DEI missions that not only found a thriving community outside of the bank but encourage the same community involvement within. Ultimately, banks can benefit from fresh perspectives and understanding that are brought by individuals who represent the broader community in which the intuition serves.

By Hannah Flanders

A Graduate Profile of Tionne Riley, Bank Five Nine
By Hannah Flanders

Tionne Riley leads life with ambition for anything she sets her mind to. A former customer service representative at a local grocery store, Riley was ready for a change. When her stepmother gave her a Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development flyer for BankWork$, it was meant to be.

Riley graduated from Primavera Online High School with a passion for math, networking, and finances but wasn’t entirely sure where her path would take her. However, her dedication and persistence allowed her to develop even more skills, such as customer service and cash handling, that would make her the ideal candidate for the BankWork$ program and ultimately a career in retail banking.

After completing two interviews and allowing program directors to get to know her, she was accepted to participate in the eight-week program which covered topics ranging from customer relationships and the fundamentals of finances to preparing for employment. Riley described the program as “extremely hands–on” and the small class sizes allowed for one-on-one learning within a team-oriented environment.

“I was looking for a career rather than a job” said Riley, who graduated from BankWork$ in June 2021. After the graduation ceremony, a hiring event is held for banks to connect with qualified talent. “We have been incredibly impressed with the program, its leaders, its instructors, and of course, the students!” said Ann Knutson, senior vice president, human resources director at Bank Five Nine. At this event, Riley was recruited by Bank Five Nine’s Brookfield branch as a universal banker. With her interests in finance and service to her community, she was a wonderful fit for their team.

“Tionne has been a great addition to the team,” said Bank Five Nine branch manager Michelle Kurth. “I feel the BankWork$ program has allowed her to adapt very quickly to her surroundings, which allows her to accurately process her transactions, assist our customers in a professional convenient manner, and even assist her peers!”

“Bank Five Nine has been involved with the BankWork$ program since its inception in 2018,” told Knutson. Alongside fellow advisory committee members from around the U.S., Knutson has been able to offer guidance and input into the program and offerings at BankWork$ to help create graduates that are ready to succeed at any bank.

Riley spoke of both BankWork$ and Bank Five Nine with pride, “Everybody here wants to see you win.” She has gained mentors throughout the industry, even in a short time, and has enjoyed working with like-minded, focused individuals who encourage her to consider the possibilities of her future in banking.

Riley perfectly exemplifies quality talent that needed the right opportunity, as offered by BankWork$ and Bank Five Nine, to help turn their interests into something more. “Completing the BankWork$ program really gave [Tionne] a sense of pride and accomplishment in a work environment that maybe she would not have otherwise explored or realized she would be successful in,” said Kurth. For banks looking to recruit talented, young individuals to join their organizations or even those looking into connecting with BankWork$, Riley offered some words of advice from her experience in completing the interview process.

“My advice for banks would be to make sure the people you hire are dedicated,” she said. “This job is not for everyone, and we are changing people’s lives, make sure you have a team to execute the goals of the industry.”

By Erika Pierce, J.D., The Millennial Boardroom

Erika Pierce will be presenting at our November 4 WBA BOLT Winter Leadership Summit in Stevens Point. Visit the registration site to learn more!

Soft skills are skills that you learn through experience, mindfulness, and reflection. They’re your good habits, personality traits, and understanding of workplace norms. These skills are important to have for any worker, especially to those in higher positions. Possessing these skills often denotes experience, confidence, and professionalism.

If you’re chasing a new job, a higher position, or career independence, you need to develop your understanding of certain soft skills. Here are just five important important soft skills that you need to grow your career:


Being able to communicate well in a professional setting is one of the most important stepping stones to a large network and successful career.

Your communication skills dictate how well you relate with others. Being a good communicator often leads to having great workplace relationships with your co-workers, a more healthy and efficient work environment, and being a better leader.

To be a good communicator, you have to hone specific communication skills. This includes public speaking, giving clear directions, and active listening. It’s also important to hone your nonverbal communication skills, like reading body language, tone of voice/writing, and other unspoken cues.


While you might think that the people who go furthest in their careers are the ones that put in 60-hour work weeks and almost never seem to rest, think again. For most people, this kind of work-life balance is unsustainable and can often lead to burnout. If you want to sustainably grow your career, you need to develop your sense of self-management.

I’ve learned that once you take charge of your own career, you’re in charge of your own work-life balance. You’re the one who decides how often you work, and consequently, how stressed you are.

Knowing when to take a break and step away from your work is a skill in itself. Setting aside time for yourself allows you to reap the benefits of your hard work, and helps remind you why you want to grow even further. This leads to a healthy work-life balance and a sustainably growing career.


Even if you aren’t a marketer, having marketing skills is important to career growth.

Knowing how to sell yourself is essential to getting hired, promoted, or even working independently. This means understanding what a company, position, or client needs and highlighting why you’re the perfect fit for the job.

Career Management

Sometimes, career growth doesn’t mean a promotion, but an opportunity elsewhere. Being able to recognize this is a skill in itself, but you should also have the drive and willingness to at least consider new career options.

I tell people that they should look at the market every now and then, even if they’re not looking for a new job, because it’s always changing. If you always know what the market is like, you might find an opening with a better salary, a more convenient location, or even at the company of your dreams.


There’s a lot of pressure involved in growing your career. Job interviews, chasing deadlines, and application processes are just some of the pressure situations you’ll be faced with in your career. But how much you grow your career depends on how much you can handle and thrive in the face of this pressure.

There’s a reason some of the biggest career success stories are stories of resilience. When you’re growing your career, you will be faced with challenges and tough times. But the truth is that you grow the most when you’re out of your comfort zone. Understanding this will help you grow your career to new heights.


These are just some of the soft skills that you should develop if you want to successfully grow your career. If you want to learn more, consider joining my membership community where we share all kinds of career tips and advice.


Have you ever avoided a tough conversation because you don’t like conflict? Congratulations, you are among friends. Most people don’t jump out of bed in the morning thinking, “I hope I get into some conflict today!” Yet, many leaders avoid tough conversations for multiple reasons, generally boiling down to fear. Fear of the person’s reaction, hurting feelings, being taken advantage of, or the desire to be liked can get in the way of productive and courageous communication. If you could release that fear and build your courage muscles, would you be willing to learn new skills and commit to taking new action? If yes, join Karen Butcher, communication coach and trainer, for this engaging 1.5-hour session on Courageous Conversations.

What You’ll Learn

  • Explore and experience the art of self-evaluation
  • Discover the impact of ego on leadership effectiveness
  • Recognize leadership rights and responsibilities
  • Acknowledge the damage of gossip and venting
  • Face fear and transition to courage
  • Embrace curiosity, drop judgment, and remain neutral
  • Commit to practicing tough conversations
  • Identify tools and resources to inspire and sustain courageous conversations

Who Should Attend
Everyone! Conflict is inevitable and we can all learn to be more effective in tough conversations.

Presenter Bio
Karen Butcher is a former teacher, Mary Kay Sales Director, and trainer whose career journey led her to leave the corporate world to train and coach women and men who want to elevate their leadership skills, lead productive teams, and achieve their goals. Butcher is a Certified Bank Training Professional who earned her credential in 2016. She is a Senior Training Consultant for Interaction Training and travels the country facilitating bank supervisor training. Attendees appreciate her hands-on approach to offering tools to coach and lead teams.

In addition, Butcher works with Leadership Kentucky as the program coordinator for BRIGHT Kentucky, a new program for young professionals in the 54 counties of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Butcher’s passion for people is evident and she knows what is required to become a leader who people want to follow. She believes it’s time for a new leadership philosophy where leaders hold themselves and their teams accountable and let go of outdated practices.

Registration Options

Live Access, 30 Days OnDemand Playback, Presenter Materials and Handouts $279

  • Available Upgrades:
    • 12 Months OnDemand Playback + $110
    • 12 Months OnDemand Playback + Digital Download + $140
    • 12 Months OnDemand Playback + CD + $140
    • Additional Live Access + $75 per person

An overview of the mortgage lending business, including business models such as mortgage banker, broker, and lender; the role of government and agencies like Federal Housing Administration and the Veteran’s Administration programs; other key players like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; important real estate laws; basics of real estate investing. Explore key elements in the mortgage lending industry.

Course Topics Include: major mortgage financing programs and guidelines; construction lending and land development financing; regulatory compliance laws and their impact on the mortgage process; property appraisals review; types of mortgage fraud and impact on the industry.

Audience: Financial service professionals who want a broad overview of mortgage lending, including those who intend to pursue a career in mortgage lending (business development, underwriting, processing) or those individuals who recently joined a mortgage lending department.

Price: $550

A new supervisor could easily feel overwhelmed by all the responsibilities that come with the role. This program teaches participants the fine art of juggling staff, schedules, meetings, goals that must be met, and pressing deadlines. All this needs to happen while you also consider on-going training needs and serve as a back-up for the employee that didn’t come in. The list seems endless! Tune in to learn how to keep all the balls in the air without breaking a sweat.

This program will ramp up leadership skills and address critical supervisory issues necessary to become an extraordinary supervisor.

What You Will Learn

  • Deal with Resistance – What to do when you were once a teammate and now you supervise the team? How do you address generational issues or the unmotivated employee?
  • Change the Focus – Learn the value of boundaries to help find the balance between the need for approval and the larger need for meeting team and company goals.
  • Partner with a Mentor – Get tips on how to find a mentor and the rewards of having one.
  • Plan and Prioritize – Realize that the primary job is to ensure that everything that needs to get done gets done. Planning and prioritizing departmental tasks, and assigning the right tasks to the right people, are all keys to success.
  • Be Accessible – This program will help you create consistent, timely accessibility by establishing routine coaching appointments that aren’t dreaded.
  • Delegation – Learn how to delegate and provide encouragement to help others take on new tasks. Manage the workload while developing team members.
  • Discipline Effectively – Discover how to set expectations that are clear, specific, and realistic. Develop the skills to discipline for improved results.
  • Communicate Upward and Downward – Keep management and the team informed by sharing the right information with the appropriate group.
  • Encourage Teamwork – Foster input from team members and demonstrate the benefits of collaboration with the entire team for positive impact.

Who Should Attend?
New supervisors, supervisor candidates, current supervisors and managers, and those that manage and train supervisors.

Karen Butcher is a former teacher, Mary Kay Sales Director, and Bank Training Director. She left the corporate world in 2018 to launch her own coaching and training business.

Karen knows the power of vulnerability that is required to become a courageous leader. She believes it’s time to embrace a philosophy where leaders hold themselves and their teams accountable and will challenge you to let go of outdated practices.

Karen is a faith-filled woman who is courageous, resilient, and compassionate. She is driven to partner with clients who desire to elevate their skills and gain the courage to take new action.

She and her husband Gene stake their claim in Central Kentucky where they raise sheep, chickens, and vegetables on their Stamping Ground farm.

Registration Options

  • Live Plus Five (days) – $265
  • OnDemand Recording – $295
  • CD-ROM – $345
  • Live Plus Six (months) – $365
  • Premier Package – $395

When you attend this live presentation, you’ll learn from Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA, how to implement multiple techniques to create spreadsheets that are interactive, accurate, and user friendly. He demonstrates how to use a variety of Excel’s form controls and features to control the data input of other users, simplify data entry, preserve key formulas, minimize spreadsheet maintenance, and more.

David demonstrates every technique at least twice: first, on a PowerPoint slide with numbered steps, and second, in the subscription-based Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) version of Excel. David draws your attention to any differences in the older versions of Excel (2019, 2016, 2013, and earlier) during the presentation as well as in his detailed handouts. David also provides an Excel workbook that includes most of the examples he uses during the webcast.

Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based product that provides new feature updates as often as monthly. Conversely, the perpetual licensed versions of Excel have feature sets that don’t change. Perpetual licensed versions have year numbers, such as Excel 2019, Excel 2016, and so on.

Covered Topics
Allowing users to make multiple choices by way of the ListBox form control.
Avoiding the need to merge cells—use the Text Box feature for paragraphs of text instead.
Contrasting data validation–based lists versus form control–based lists.
Contrasting Form Controls in Excel versus ActiveX Controls.
Crafting data validation lists that are contingent on selections from a preceding list.
Creating an in-cell list by way of Excel’s Data Validation feature.
Creating an input rule that requires names to be entered in a last-name, first-name format.
Discovering the array of form controls available within Excel.
Enabling the hidden Developer menu in Excel to access additional functionality.
Identifying data validation overrides by way of the Circle Invalid Data command.
Learning how the Table feature empowers you to improve the integrity of Excel spreadsheets.
Limiting the number of characters a user can enter in a worksheet cell.

Who Should Attend?
Practitioners who want to learn how to create user-friendly, interactive spreadsheets.

David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. David’s mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you,” so he focuses on what he sees users don’t, but should, know about Microsoft Excel. His goal is to empower you to use Excel more effectively. To learn more about David, you can view his LinkedIn profile and follow him on Facebook or Twitter (@excelwriter).

Registration Options
Live Plus Five (days) – $265
OnDemand Recording – $295
CD-ROM – $345
Live Plus Six (months) – $365
Premier Package – $395