By Rose Oswald Poels
In the last year, bankers from around the state have made an incredible effort to make the most of their membership with the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA). When 2022–2023 Chair Dan Peterson began his term last June and spearheaded the member-wide initiative to increase engagement, it was impressive to see the multitude of ways in which bankers chose to connect with both their peers and the Association as a whole.
June, the beginning of WBA’s fiscal year, is the perfect time to reassess your involvement in the Association and uncover the programs, groups, and opportunities available for all. I encourage bank leaders to continue to emphasize the employee benefits brought forth by WBA and support all members of the bank in finding the engagement opportunities that are the most meaningful for their professional growth.
The WBA Advocacy Officer program connects individuals with an interest in public policy to opportunities to act and provide input on legislative and regulatory policy items. Working alongside members of the WBA Government Relations team and other Advocacy Officers from throughout Wisconsin, these banker volunteers regularly communicate with bank officers and directors, coordinate advocacy programs such as “Take Your Legislator to Work” days and fundraising initiatives, as well as stay abreast of the latest legislative and governmental issues.
BOLT, or Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow, members represent Wisconsin’s current and emerging bank leaders. The free program is focused on providing bankers with the opportunity to learn, network, and expand their leadership in the banking industry. In addition, bankers are encouraged to attend the leadership summits — held twice per year — to make connections, discuss challenges, and explore new opportunities for personal and professional development.
The CEOnly and CFOnly Network is open to all CEOs and CFOs currently employed at a Wisconsin-chartered bank. The group, which focuses on networking and idea sharing related to Wisconsin’s banking industry, provides bankers with the platform to anonymously ask questions and receive advice as well as connect with peers at up to three in-person networking events.
The newest benefit — WBA’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Employee Resource Group (ERG) — was formed in 2022 as a safe space for bankers of historically underrepresented backgrounds to meet and hold open-forum discussions. The ERG, led by a popular speaker at WBA events, Dr. Alonzo Kelly, provides a virtual space to share ideas and experiences, ask questions, and learn from others.
WBA’s Compliance Forum is the Association’s premier Wisconsin-specific program focused on presenting updates and addressing the latest hot topics in compliance. In addition to gaining in-depth information on key issues, members have the opportunity to attend several Compliance Forum events throughout the year to connect with peers, gain CLE and other compliance certifications (subject to approval), and gain access to the Forum’s Google Group.
WBA Connect is a collection of banker-only peer groups designed to keep bankers connected and help one another grow. The free benefit — currently representing bankers with interests in DEI, enterprise risk management, human resources and organizational development, marketing, retail banking, and technology and operations — provides excluive access to the related Google Group as well as the possibility to coordinate in-person networking meetings.
Not to mention the various digital resources — including, but not limited to, the Best Practices Library, Legal Call Program, and Banconomics.com — our Association works to ensure that you and your staff have the resources relevant with the work you do each day and the opportunities to get involved, stay informed, and make an impact both in your community and throughout the banking industry.