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Contemplating the Future
As we gather today for yet another CEO Brainstorming session, I cannot help but contemplate the future of our industry. In fact, I hope that it is the underlying theme of the conference. Trying to predict the future is an impossible task. However, preparing for the inevitable changes is a necessity. How financial products and services will be delivered over the next decade fascinates me. Given that the iPhone is only a decade old, can you imagine the next transformative device, chip, or retinal scan?

It’s About More Than Brick and Mortar
No doubt, the size, number, and configuration of branches will change in the next decade and we all must be sensitive to that. Just observe what has been going on in the retail v. online sector gives us a glimpse into our future. But other factors, like cybersecurity, Fintech, the demographics and mobility of society, and the big unknowns yet to be identified will all play a significant role in shaping our industry going forward.

Reliance on Third Parties
One of the scariest parts to me is the realization that we all will continue to be dependent on third-party vendors, whether it be for IT, cybersecurity, or a vast array of other needs. The ability of these third parties to provide state-of-the-art, high-quality and cost-effective products and services in a consolidating industry will be critical to the ongoing success of community banks.

Inevitable Consolidation
As we approach 5,000 banks at the end of this decade, I wonder what the competition will look like and how the talent pool for banks will be maintained. Attracting top-tier talent to our industry strikes me as a significant challenge as more and more young people migrate to technology and other fields. Creating opportunities and challenges for various generations with differing expectations could be a steep hurdle.

Flowing Into Today’s Agenda
With top-tier regulators, prominent investment bankers, and notable consultants engaging with a distinguished and diverse group of bankers from five states, this year’s session has the prospects for great success. Mergers & Acquisitions, Trump, compensation trends, tax reform, the regulatory environment, and visions of the future all will play a significant part in our discussion today.

There Are No Wrong Answers
Today is a time for learning, sharing ideas and opinions, and enjoying the moment and each other’s company. I believe that this open communication is the hallmark of these conferences. So, with that, let the fun begin.