By GSBC President Michael Stevens

One of the hard questions we asked the class was to identify emerging risks and opportunities based on the current economic environment, state of global affairs and changes in the environment.

Risks Identified

  • Small business survival, e.g., wages, inflation, supply chain. How much can they take?
  • The unknown of digital currency and how community banks fit into that future.
  • Food shortages due to the war in Ukraine.
  • The impacts foreign relations, weather and climate change have on farmers and ranchers.
  • Ongoing political differences.
  • Not meeting the needs of certain communities and not strengthening the communities already served.
  • Not having diverse points of view on staff.


Leaders seek out opportunities in all environments. Students brainstormed ideas for community banks to serve their customers in an environment that poses the above risks:

  1. Community banks should communicate and educate consumers and small businesses on the current economic environment as a trusted source of information.
  2. Be open minded to innovations such as digital currencies and technology platforms.
  3. Seek automation of processes to manage labor shortages.
  4. Achieving diversity, equity and inclusion could create a competitive edge and open new market opportunities.

Next Steps

The GSBC Bolder Banking challenge is this: Go through this exercise with your team. Develop a list of risks which could impact your organization and discuss how they can be mitigated. Challenge each other to identify the greatest opportunities based on this environment and the needs of your market. Let your team explore the once unthinkable!


About the “Hard Questions” Course

This is the second article from GSBC’s “Hard Questions” course from the July 2022 Annual School Session, with the first installment covering diversity, equity and inclusion.

The premise of the course is that, as a leader, you will get the questions people don’t know how to—or don’t want to—answer. This special class provides an opportunity for students to expand their thinking by being exposed to a variety of views and experiences. To do so, we gathered 160 second year students to discuss, debate and identify solutions to the current state of diversity in community banks. We also challenged them to share success stories and explore creative strategies.


Contribute to the Hard Questions roundtable discussions during your GSBC experience. Apply now!