By GSBC President Michael L. Stevens 

Each new student who enrolls at GSBC is assigned to a peer group with nine fellow new students. With two virtual meetings before arriving on campus, the relationship building among students is accelerated, better preparing students to excel in our Annual School Session. 

One of GSBC’s intersession projects is completed by members of each peer group. This project is an opportunity for collaboration and peer learning. The groups’ first task last fall was to agree on a topic. This can be a common problem facing each of their organizations, or an area they want to learn more about as a group. 

A People Business

Out of the 15 peer groups, almost half agreed to focus on “people issues” – either talent retention or succession planning. While recruiting and retaining employees is an issue facing most businesses, banks have unique challenges given their role in maintaining public trust and the face-to-face nature of the business. This is a time for bold and creative thinking on banks’ parts.   

One peer group is taking a unique approach to leadership succession and the future of community banking.  The group is divided into teams to study four distinct areas: customers, talent, technology and regulation. Their argument is that all of these areas play an integral part of a bank’s succession plan to remain relevant in the future. This has the potential to be insightful work. 

State of the Economy

Another peer group plans to study economic outlooks and discern the impact on their various markets. The outlooks will span 12 to 18 months with outlooks varying from significant economic deterioration to economic prosperity. The planning for each scenario will ultimately lead to success, or at least resilience, of the community banks. Given the different economic drivers in each community, this is an ambitious project, but worthwhile work. 

The other projects are focused on cyber-security, cannabis banking, profit improvement and deposit acquisition. All present opportunities to learn from and challenge each other. 

Stay tuned for more on these projects as the teams work to finalize the projects in April 2024. The project work and social aspects of peer groups have quickly become central to the GSBC experience.