Executive network provides unique benefits for Wisconsin banking leaders

By Daryll J. Lund

For several years, hundreds of bank CEOs and CFOs from across the state have benefited from WBA’s CEOnly and CFOnly Networks. Membership in one of these two networks allows bank leaders access to exclusive networking events throughout the year as well as a confidential Q&A service.

As our industry continues to feel economic and regulatory strain, it is critical for bankers to establish positive networks among their peers to share ideas and ask questions. In the last year alone, members have shared over 100 questions and answers amongst the two networks and attended three networking events, which included complimentary breakfast and lunch as well as a guest speaker.

The foundational aspect of information-sharing provided by WBA’s CEOnly and CFOnly Networks has proven to be of unequivocal value and, as the banking industry continues to evolve, will continue to arm Wisconsin bankers with the resources they need to stay a step ahead of the unprecedented.

Membership for the 2023 CEOnly Network and CFOnly Network is now open to all CEOs and CFOs of Wisconsin-chartered banks. Bankers looking to renew or begin their membership can expect the same excellent value — three annual networking meetings and the continued Q&A service — all for only $300 a year. Banks registering both their CEO and CFO will also receive the discounted price of $500.

With the 2023 calendar year right around the corner and membership renewal quickly approaching, make sure your bank leadership has the greatest opportunity to stay informed and connected.

Interested in a 2023 membership or learning more about what the CEOnly and CFOnly programs can offer for your bank? Please contact me or visit

Join Wisconsin banking leaders in education and networking opportunities

Banking leaders from throughout Wisconsin will once again reconvene in Wisconsin Dells for a two-day event focused on education and networking. WBA’s Management Conference, beginning on September 13, is a must-attend event for CEOs, CFOs, CCOs, HR leaders, and other members of the bank’s management team.

An optional, pre-conference golf outing is scheduled for September 13 at Rock Golf Club in Wisconsin Dells. Bankers interested in additional opportunities to connect with their banking peers and event sponsors should plan to attend. Following the outing, the event will kick off on Tuesday night with a dinner program recognizing individual bankers who will be receiving WBA’s 30- and 40-year Lifetime Service Awards. Bankers interested in receiving this recognition or honoring an individual who meets the service award criteria should visit to complete the nomination form by August 19, 2022 to be included in the program.

On September 14, bankers will have the opportunity to attend two general sessions and two rounds of breakout sessions that include four management-related tracks including credit/lending, human resources, finance, and general bank trends.

In addition to networking among peers, Wisconsin bankers will hear from Sarah Sladek, founder and CEO of XYZ University, LLC during her keynote session on managing and leading during the new era of workplace shift that has recently emerged. While preparing for increasing innovation, shifting values, global connectivity, disruption, and opportunity, Sladek will assist bank leaders and organizers in understanding why they may be struggling to lead a high-functioning team as well as provide insight into how bankers may best be able to usher in a new generation of talent.

To learn more and register for the upcoming event in Wisconsin Dells, visit Questions regarding the conference can be directed to WBA’s Lori Kalscheuer, director – education.

WBA’s Management Conference Returns to Wisconsin Dells in September

Join over 150 banking leaders for WBA’s annual Management Conference September 13 and 14 in Wisconsin Dells. C-suite and HR professionals will enjoy several general sessions, breakout sessions, and opportunities to network among Wisconsin banking peers and over 50 conference sponsors and exhibitors from across the U.S.

The conference, to be held at Glacier Canyon Conference Center, will officially begin on Tuesday night with a dinner program and ceremony recognizing individual bankers who will be receiving WBA’s 30- and 40-year Lifetime Service Awards. Bankers are encouraged to attend this program not only to celebrate these milestone achievements, but for additional opportunities to network with banking peers. Bankers interested in receiving this recognition or honoring an individual who meets the service award criteria should visit to complete the nomination form.

Management Conference Banner

Before the dinner program on Tuesday, September 13, bankers looking to make the most of their time out of the office will also enjoy an optional pre-conference golf outing at Wild Rock Golf Club in Wisconsin Dells. Join WBA, your banking peers, and several sponsors at this unofficial kickoff for an additional opportunity to connect with banking leaders from around the state.

This year’s conference will focus on taking banking to the next level. By investing in opportunities to network with other community bankers and dive into topics that will help your bank succeed as a business, leaders are able to reinvest the skills and knowledge learned at the conference into every member of their team.

WBA encourages all bank management teams to take advantage of the four management-related breakout session tracks — including credit/lending, human resources, finance, and general bank trends — for the benefit of every leader, their team, and the continued success of their institution.

To learn more and register for the upcoming event in Wisconsin Dells, visit Questions regarding the conference can be directed to WBA’s Lori Kalscheuer, director – education.

Executive network provides unique benefits for Wisconsin banking leaders

By Daryll Lund

Now is the time to renew or begin your membership in the CEOnly and CFOnly Networks so you can enjoy the services provided. As we continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19, economic, and regulatory strain, the CEOnly/CFOnly Networks are an important resource for you to connect with over 100 Wisconsin bank CEOs and CFOs.

These membership benefits allow peers to share information at in-person meetings and through a Q&A service, which provides a confidential forum for asking questions. In the past year, 100+ questions and answers have been shared amongst CEOnly/CFOnly members. We believe that the networking and information-sharing that is foundational to the CEOnly and CFOnly Networks will become even more valuable to you as the banking industry continues to experience unprecedented changes.

You can expect the same excellent value from your membership in 2022! This year, network members are invited to three complimentary networking events:

  • March 11 | Stevens Point
  • June 10 | Wisconsin Dells
  • September 23 | Madison

The annual membership fee is $300 for CEOs or CFOs. If both the CEO and CFO join from the same bank, the cost is $500. Membership is open to CEOs and CFOs of Wisconsin-chartered banks and runs on a calendar year basis, starting January 1, 2022, so now is the time to join!

The Shift from Historian to Strategic Partner

Across industries, the function of the Chief Financial Officer is transforming, and the broad, rapid change in the banking industry over the past decade has accelerated that evolution. "The CFO's role a decade ago was more behind-the-scenes," said Ed Sloane, CFO of First Business Bank, Madison, comparing it to today's dynamic, collaborative functions. "The CFO role has evolved over the years, but it's really the result of an evolving industry." The shift in focus from clerical to strategic has not necessarily changed the job descriptions of bank CFOs, but rather the expectations placed on them. "The definition of a CFO hasn't changed much, but the role and expectations have changed," said Nicholas Hahn, director of Financial Institutions Risk Advisory Services at RSM US, LLP.* "Typical CFO duties have transitioned to Controllers to allow CFOs to focus on more strategic initiatives." 

That transition means today's CFOs must keep their eyes on the future as well as the past, with the emphasis on forecasting. "The emphasis of what a CFO is to do has changed, and that's a good thing," said Gary J. Young, president & CEO of Young & Associates, Inc.** He explained that in the past, CFOs were simply very good at telling the CEO and the Board what had happened to the bank (ratios, growth, margins, etc.)—a vast underutilization of the CFO role, which should focus on improving profitability. "The role of the CFO is to lead and direct the organization financially," said Bob Makowski, CFO of Park Bank, Milwaukee. "That's so broad compared to what it used to be. The role used to be looking backward, focused totally on financials." Park Bank president/CEO Dave P. Werner agreed: "The role has changed from being that of a historian to being a forward-looking strategist, looking at the financial impact of the decisions we make operationally."

Prognosticator and Storyteller

No longer confined to number-crunching in a back room, today's bank CFO is a strategic partner to the rest of the management team, acting as both a forward-looking advisor and strategy advocate. As the primary source of financial information for the CEO and board—particularly relating to interest rate risk modeling, capital, and asset/liability management—the CFO is well-positioned to help design and execute the bank's strategic plan. According to Makowski, on a macro level this involves identifying the best balance sheet composition for the bank in terms of liquidity, investments, loans, etc. "Make liquidity and balance sheet composition a top priority," he said. "That's what you can impact every day, also looking at it long-term." Werner described it as being the "balance sheet strategist," that is, answer the question of how to best position the bank to lend to its customers while maximizing profitability, boosting capital, and providing a return to shareholders. Another significant duty of the CFO as the primary financial informer for the CEO and directors is regarding merger activity; regardless of whether the bank is actively seeking a purchase or sale, the board has a fiduciary responsibility to evaluate any opportunities that arise. "The ability of the CFO to understand and communicate critical valuation and accounting issues is very important," Hahn explained. "CFOs must be able to assist directors with that." Despite this emphasis on forecasting and planning, Young cautioned against forgetting to look at the bank's historical financial data as a source of information. "The CFO still needs to be looking back, but the emphasis should be on looking forward," he explained. One example of this is conducting a risk/reward study for every new endeavor the institution considers, Young said, pointing out that regulators now require banks to do such an analysis for significant technological or product offering changes.

CFOs: Expand Your Expertise at the WBA CFO Conference
"There are lots of different hats that CFOs are wearing today that they haven't traditionally worn. Their sphere of influence continues to grow." – Nicholas Hahn, director of Financial Institutions Risk Advisory Services at RSM US, LLP. 

Hahn will be speaking at WBA's upcoming CFO Conference, along with several other expert speakers. Join them and your fellow bank CFOs on November 16 in Madison for a full day of professional development and valuable networking opportunities. Visit for more information and to register.

The other facet of the CFO's role as strategic partner is to be an advocate for the bank's strategy, both internally (to staff) and externally (to shareholders and customers). "A CFO is more of a storyteller now," said Sloane. "We're constantly communicating and furthering the strategy of the organization and making sure employees at all levels understand what that is." This requires CFOs to be dynamic communicators—much like salespeople, which is a vastly different mindset from the past. "When you come into the bank each day, be thinking of what is happening today that will get you where you want to be in a year or two," Young advised. The strategic plan must be the ultimate guide for all day-to-day activities. "Every decision that you make as a CFO needs to support the long-term vision of the company," said Sloane. "You need to truly believe in it and push it out, both externally and internally."

How to Pivot

For bank CFOs still wearing the 'head accountant' hat, there are four key actions to consider that will help you effectively transition into a strategic partner. Fair warning: as the CFOs' role and responsibilities have expanded, most of these steps require CFOs to venture outside of their comfort zones.

1: Minimize the Minutia

"Like with any c-suite position, when a CFO gets caught up in the minutia they're not leading, not managing the bank; they're managing details," said Young. "If you're caught up in the details every day, the CFO becomes a bookkeeper." Not only does this detract from the CFO role, it's also highly inefficient: no company should pay an individual $120,000 per year to spend six or seven hours every day doing $50,000 per year work. Makowski pointed out that sometimes minutia comes disguised as operational requests from other departments, since the CFO and their team are generally viewed as financial problem-solvers. However, CFOs must be careful not to take on work that could be performed in other areas. "You want to be helpful and a team player, but that's not where you maximize value for the organization," he said.

2: Assemble a Top Team

Knowing when to delegate is closely related to avoiding minutia, and it first requires having a capable team to delegate to. "One of the top priorities for a CFO should be to assemble a team with the right mix of expertise to address the wide variety of areas necessary for the institution's success," said Hahn. The breadth and depth of a CFO's oversight has expanded dramatically; CFOs must be able to rely on their team. "CFOs need to be increasingly involved in attracting, growing, and retaining talent," said Hahn. Sloane pointed out that having the right staff can help the CFO avoid distractions. For example, he explained that First Business Bank has a designated Chief Accounting Officer—which is unique in banks of their size—and that allows Sloane to focus on the bigger picture. "Having a top-notch staff is critical to allowing the CFO to be a strategic partner," he said. 

3: Utilize Technology

Long gone are the days of handwritten ledgers, but some institutions still cling to their trusted Excel spreadsheets; upgrading that technology can streamline strategic initiatives. "Having a robust profitability system that can break down the company in a number of meaningful ways is incredibly important for a CFO," said Sloane. "That technology is essential. Having robust systems and infrastructures in place to allow you to dive into the details is really critical." Two of the most significant ways a CFO can impact their institution's profitability is being proactive about liquidity management and effectively modeling interest rate risk, according to Young, and technology facilitates those tasks. "To a CFO, the technology changes that have taken place only make the job easier," said Young. "There's so much information at your fingertips now. The key is to look forward."

4: Build Relationships

Finally, today's CFO must escape the back room and interact with a wide variety of stakeholders: other bank staff, shareholders, regulators, vendors, and peers. "CFOs need to be relationship-builders," said Hahn. "Effectively identify the people you need to bring together and then manage them." He cited CECL as a good example of something that requires the CFO to assemble an internal team; it impacts accounting, risk management, lending, and even IT. Outside of the bank, CFOs have become much more engaged with shareholders. "The CFO plays a huge role in investor relations," Werner explained. "Investors need to have confidence in your CFO." Regulators should share that confidence, too; fostering relationships with regulators is an important piece of the CFO's compliance responsibilities. "You need to develop those relationships and fully understand what the hot topics are so you can be responsive to regulators," said Sloane. When it comes to highly technical areas outside of the CFO's areas of expertise, Hahn recommends developing relationships with vendors who are experts in that area (whether their assistance is contracted or on an ad hoc basis). "Don't hesitate to leverage third parties to help in emerging or technical areas," he advised. "There is a wealth of industry information available to help make those decisions." Finally, today's CFOs need to build and sustain a wide network of peers they can lean on for advice. "Get out of the vacuum of your organization," Werner advised, recommending seminars and conferences as ideal places to both network with peers and stay educated. 

Seitz is WBA operations manager and senior writer. 

*RSM US, LLP is a WBA Bronze Associate Member.
**Young & Associates, Inc. is a WBA Associate Member.

By, Amber Seitz


The 2023 WBA Bank Executives Conference will be held Wednesday, February 8 through Friday, February 10 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells. The conference will kick off with a networking reception on Wednesday evening, but bankers are invited and encouraged to arrive earlier for optional afternoon “banker only” peer group discussions starting at 2:30 p.m. The conference will adjourn at Noon on Friday.

This conference is ideal for community banking executives to come together for networking and education. Attendees will enjoy two days of networking, several national keynote speakers, and a total of 8 breakout sessions to choose from. Members of your bank’s executive team can each customize their agendas by attending and learning from different breakout sessions.

View the Speakers and Agenda pages on the conference registration website for more details!

Bank Member Registration Information

EARLY BIRD PRICING! Register your team by January 9, 2023 to receive the registration fee of $475/attendee, including all meals and conference sessions. After January 9, the registration fee will increase to $525/attendee.

Spouses/guests (non-bankers) can be registered to join for all meals at the rate of $275/guest. This includes Wednesday reception; Thursday breakfast, lunch, reception, dinner and dessert reception; and Friday breakfast. Spouses/guests (non-bankers) can also register to only attend the Thursday evening receptions and dinner at the rate of $125/guest.

Associate Member & Exhibitor Registration Information

WBA Associate Members can register to attend, exhibit, and/or sponsor at the conference.

Associate Member individual conference registration is $695/attendee, including all meals and conference sessions. Visit the Information for Exhibitors/Sponsors page for more details on exhibit and sponsor opportunities! Please contact WBA’s Nick Loppnow for more information on exhibiting. Interested in upgrading your presence? Register to be a conference sponsor to receive additional benefits and conference recognition! Please contact WBA’s Nick Loppnow for more details on available sponsorships.

It is universally understood that asset\liability management (ALM) is a critical function for management of your financial institution’s performance.  Understanding and measuring the financial risks assumed by your institution and the associated rewards is the essence of good financial management.

For decades, industry net interest margins have under pressure due to lower interest rates and increased competition.  With growing pressure from non-bank players offering “banking” services, using the ALM process to measure and more importantly, MANAGE, your performance and risks to your institution’s return has never been greater.

This course provides attendees with a basic understanding of the asset\liability management process.  In the session we cover the role of Asset/Liability Management (ALM) as well as the fundamental components to an effective ALM process to measure and manage key risks.

This webinar will cover

  • The role of the ALM process in financial institutions
  • Options to measure risks we care about in the ALM process
  • Measurements do we use to address ALCO risks,
  • The common faults in community FI risk assessments

Participants will

  • Understand the overall framework of Asset/Liability Management
  • Analyze the key risk areas ALCO must manage
  • Explain the role of income simulation, duration and economic value measures
  • Explain the different between static and dynamic value at risk measurements
  • Define Income at risk and value at risk
  • Understand the role of liquidity risk management
  • Outline key variables impacting the results

Target Audience
CEOs, CFOs, ALCO members, controllers, chief risk officer, chief retail, funding officers.  This session is intended for individuals that are new to the ALM process.

Susan Sharbel, Abrigo

Registration Option
Live presentation $330

Recording available through May 2, 2022