Adapting to the changing world
Years from now, when COVID-19 is merely a chapter in our history books, we will refer to how things were done in the pre-pandemic era versus the post-pandemic. No doubt, some things will never go back to the way they were before COVID-19 changed our way of life.
All of us have had to adapt to a new normal, including your association. I never imagined that I would be delivering my Chairman’s Address via a Zoom call or that our first Board of Directors meeting of the fiscal year would also be held virtually. I didn’t even know what Zoom was until this year.
TBA, like our banks, was affected by the pandemic. TBA staff have worked from home since mid-March, and TBA leadership has been forced to adapt to restrictions brought about by the quarantine. The professional development department was particularly impacted.
In March, when the nation was placed under quarantine, TBA had been busy promoting its prominent educational offerings, and registrations for popular programs such as the Annual Convention, Women’s Conference and Ag Conference were coming in at record numbers.
Staff had to immediately decide what programs would be canceled, postponed or offered in a different format. The primary concern was for the safety of attendees.
Within three weeks of the state’s stay-at-home orders, the professional development department converted the April Compliance and Compliance Update Schools to a virtual event. The numbers — more than 100 registrations — were good considering this had always been a live program.
The CEO, Senior Lender, CFO and IT Forums were held in a virtual format in late March and early April. The forums had always been excellent opportunities for bankers to meet face-to-face and exchange ideas and discuss challenges.
The virtual format did not affect the quality of the discussions. In fact, beginning the first week of April, TBA started broadcasting weekly Executive Discussion sessions every Tuesday morning. These discussions have featured bankers, CEO Chris Furlow and Deputy General Counsel Celeste Embrey and a guest appearance by Banking Commissioner Charles Cooper. Free to all Texas bankers, these discussions have proved to be valuable up-to-the-minute updates on the Paycheck Protection Program, reopening procedures and legislative activity.
The 17th Annual CFO Conference went virtual last month and even managed to include an exhibit hall and CFO Forum discussion. More than 20 speakers presented, while allowing attendees to ask questions and interact with their peers. As an added bonus, the program is available for up to two months after the broadcast dates.
The June BSA/AML school was also presented virtually late last month.
The feedback TBA received from attendees was positive, with many commenting on the convenience and ability to access content long after the program ends. Following are a few of the comments TBA received:
“It was great to be able to go through the content in a way that is simple to navigate.”
“Taking this (Compliance School) online was very convenient — not needing to travel, take time away from family and work was a real plus. Also, it was nice to be able to have the option to listen to a topic more than one time.”
“While I missed out on networking with fellow Compliance Officers, I love that I can go back and re-listen to all the speakers so I can gain a better understanding of everything that was covered.”
TBA continues to monitor COVID-19 numbers very closely to make informed decisions about the safety of our members and when to go live with future programming.
Adapting TBA’s programs to a virtual format was not as easy as it looks. Staff from all areas of the association were responsible for their success — from our communications, IT, accounting and professional development staff.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one employee by name. Kathy Box, the person I credit for getting me involved in TBA, is retiring after 34 years at this association. Kathy is responsible for creating and implementing many of the programs you have come to enjoy, and she is well-known by the banking community and her peers at the other state bankers associations for her cutting-edge offerings, including webinars, and her ideas for educating and training the industry. She will be missed.