6 Common Myths About Cryptocurrency

When it comes to financial assets, cryptocurrency is the wild west. It’s still new and largely misunderstood, but its potential is huge. Unfortunately, the misconceptions surrounding cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin, leave many who could benefit from diving in. This is one of the many topics covered by Timothy Peterson in GSBLSU Junior class, “Introduction to Digital Assets for Bankers.”

Bitcoin Myths:

  1. Bitcoin is mostly used for illegal activity – Although there have been concerns about bitcoin being used for illegal purposes, less than 1% has been known for illicit activity. Of that 1%, it was not used for money laundering, trafficking, or other criminal purposes.
  2. Bitcoin is anonymous – Bitcoin is completely traceable on a public blockchain. All that is needed is an IP address associated with a wallet
  3. Bitcoin is a bubble -The spikes and dips in Bitcoin are due to price manipulation by bots, not by people.
  4. Bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme – A Ponzi scheme promises quick returns to investors of a non-existent enterprise. Bitcoin investors are ensured no such returns. In fact, its value is notoriously inconsistent.
  5. Bitcoin is an inflation hedge – Bitcoin has no correlation with short and long-term inflation.
  6. Bitcoin will replace Sovereign Currency – Cryptocurrency is unregulated and highly controlled by institutions or billionaires, unlike sovereign currency that the government regulates.

GSBLSU Junior Class President Spotlight

Jamie Johnson is a Vice President and Compliance Officer at Farmers Bank in Virginia. She’s been in the banking industry for over 14 years and is President for the current junior class of the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University. While her day-to-day role at Farmers Bank has her managing the compliance management program for deposit and lending compliance, her self-proclaimed role as an “eternal student,” led her to GSBLSU to further her knowledge and experience in the banking industry.

“As a compliance officer I’m constantly learning or pivoting my focus to the newest regulation or area of concern,” says Jamie. Furthering her education was the most effective option to enhance her knowledge on major banking functions. “I had a desire to better understand the areas of banking that I do not normally encounter.”

Before enrolling at GSBLSU, Jamie completed her state association’s banking school in Virginia, but still felt like she had more to learn. “At graduation I jokingly asked them to add another year to the program so I could return,” she jokes. It was at this point that the Graduate School of Banking at LSU was suggested. She would be the first attendee from her bank and checked with friends and peers from around the state who had already attended GSBLSU. “Once I compared all of my options, GSBLSU was the clear answer for continued learning.”

One of the greatest benefits that Jamie has received during her time at GSBLSU is the connections she’s made. “The caliber of people who attend GSBLSU are some of the best I’ve ever met,” remarks Jamie. Even in spite spending one session in a virtual environment, the relationships she’s made with instructors, staff, and classmates have been her favorite aspect. “We have bonded and created support systems with each other. Whether we are answering questions, sharing best practices, or discussing sports, the comradery between everyone has immeasurable value.”

While there are many courses and concentrations, Leading Through Motivation with Steve Robichaux was one of Jamie’s favorite classes and professors. “Leadership classes are not promoted enough, yet it is a subject where there is always room to grow,” says Jamie. She finds the takeaways from this particular class valuable, not only at her bank, but in life.

Although GSBLSU is a premier educational destination for banking professionals, it also offers many experiences outside of the classroom. “We start our mornings early in the gym, float the lazy river in the afternoon, and spend several nights with class parties and study sessions,” remembers Jamie. “We always go to dinner as a group and make several trips to The Chimes. I even learned how to eat crawfish, and surprisingly, liked them!”

As the Junior Class President, Jamie has some words of wisdom for anyone who is considering furthering their education and career. “Attending GSBLSU is not a decision that I would take lightly. It is a big commitment that involves leaving your family for two weeks, studying for exams, and writing papers in between the in-person sessions, all on top of the responsibilities in your bank. However, if you are willing to put in the effort and do the work, the reward is worth it.”

3 Steps to Help Mitigate Your Bank’s Data Breach Risk

There is a 1 in 960,000 chance of getting struck by lightning, and a 1 in 220 chance of dating a millionaire. The chances of experiencing a data breach? 1 in 4.

Long gone are the days when you did not have to worry about a cyber-attack on your organization. No matter the size of your bank, you are at risk. It’s not a matter of if, but when a breach will occur. Today, more than ever, it is imperative to have the correct processes, technology, training, and people in place to best protect your organization.

The first step to mitigating cyber-attack risk is understanding the types to which you are most susceptible. Threats like hackers, ransomware, phishing, corporate account takeover, and ATM compromise are just a few of the myriad of breaches an organization could experience. Identify which of these pose the greatest threat to your institution and customers. Then, put into place the following practices to ensure you are ready and equipped for a data breach when it occurs.

1. Train Bank Employees to Identify Potential Data Breaches

The only way employees will know about risk is if they are trained and tested to identify it. It isn’t enough to simply talk about risk. Risk awareness needs to be an ingrained part of the corporate culture, from the top down. Employees must be encouraged, empowered, and equipped to do their due diligence in seeking out potential threats, and they must understand the critical role they play in preventing potentially catastrophic data breaches.

It is also important to keep your customers in the loop. Keeping them abreast of your bank’s risk awareness procedures and policies will ultimately create a deeper sense of trust and transparency between bank and customer. They want to know their data is safe and what you plan to do to keep it that way.

2. Establish clear processes

A formalized and clear plan must be created for what the guidelines are in different risk situations. Every step, from the moment a breach has occurred, should be established and clearly communicated.

Governance Frameworks like NIST, ITIL, and COBIT need to be established from the beginning.

3. Use the correct technology

Having powerful technology to protect the data of both your bank and customers is important, but something that is even more crucial is making sure that employees are trained in how to use it correctly and to its full potential.

If your bank’s employees, processes, and technology are not working together, there will be a greater chance of a data breach. While risk may not be imminent, establishing a risk awareness framework for your organization needs to be done immediately to protect your bank’s data as well as that of your customers.

This is just a snippet of the teaching of Chad Tagtow, CISSP in his GSBLSU class, Risk Management & CyberSecurity.

Graduate School of Banking at LSU Announces 2022 Bank Management Simulation Winners

Every year, the seniors of GSBLSU take part in the Bank Management Simulation course, a computer-based program that is specifically designed to provide students with a look into management and the decision-making process in specific banking areas, such as investments, funds management, risk management, loans, and asset/liability management.

BMSim is an intensive computer-based educational experience, which serves as the capstone course of our school during students’ final year of instruction.  The class is divided into management teams in six communities to operate simulated banks, and those teams concern themselves with the results of their individual banks, while competing with other banks within their communities.  All teams begin with the same, base-line financial situation – a hypothetical bank with a variety of management and financial challenges – and, during the two-year simulated period, make a wide range of “quarterly” decisions involving all aspects of bank management and operations.  Through computerized analysis, the teams are able to immediately observe the results of their decisions.

The climax of the competition is a verbal presentation to a panel of judges (acting as shareholders and comprised of active or retired actual bank CEOs and examiners) who evaluate the quality of the performance of all teams and select one winner from each community.  Criteria for selection consists of team organization, consistency of performance, bank earnings, the team’s ability to report results to shareholders, and the position of the simulated bank for the future.

The winners in each simulation are recognized, along with their home bank’s president and CEO with a letter and certificate of recognition honoring their outstanding work during the Bank Management Simulation.  We are pleased to share the team winners that were announced at graduation on June 3, 2022.

A1 Luis Delgado Banco Del Bajio MX
A1 Matthew Ferguson Investar Bank LA
A1 Marshall Fratesi Bank of Oxford MS
A1 Daniel King Centennial Bank TN
A1 Lisa Milanese Scott Hancock Whitney Bank FL
A1 David Reinking American Bank MO
A1 Chris Ward Georgia Dept. of Banking & Finance GA
B3 Juan De Los Rios Banorte MX
B3 Brice Fields 1st Trust Bank KY
B3 Lauren Hendricks United Bank WV
B3 Lance Markham Citizens Bank TN
B3 Jason Pittman Citizens First Bank FL
B3 Clay Smith Chambers Bank AR
C2 Eric Allen Trustmark National Bank AL
C2 Joshua Housel Marine Bank & Trust FL
C2 Billy Johnson SunMark Community Bank GA
C2 Tim Stokely INSOUTH Bank TN
C2 Deana Veal Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Co. LA
C2 Omar Viramontes Banorte MX
C2 Andrew Whalen Planters Bank & Trust MS
D2 Wes Burnett American Bank & Trust TN
D2 Melinda Coco The Cottonport Bank LA
D2 John Eastridge Citizens Bank & Trust KY
D2 Joseph Hendrickson Southern States Bank AL
D2 Josh Linden Centennial Bank AR
D2 Everet Maturin Angulo Banorte MX
D2 Don Williams MS Dept. of Banking & Consumer Fin. MS
E4 Brad Branscum First Community Bank TN
E4 Oh Hoon Kwon First IC Bank GA
E4 Hermes Oria Banorte MX
E4 Carmen Ramirez Hancock Whitney LA
E4 Harold Smith M C Bank & Trust Co. LA
E4 Walt Vaughan Bank of Commerce MS
F5 Rodrigo Colorado Ferman Banorte MX
F5 Jennifer Johnson Mountain Valley Bank TN
F5 Justin Little Nutrien Financial GA
F5 Matt Seawright BankFirst Financial Services MS
F5 William Talley Marine Bank & Trust FL
F5 Mason Vidrine Evangeline Bank & Trust Co. LA

2022 Banking Outlook Conference

The Graduate School of Banking at LSU is again working with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in the presentation of their annual Economic Outlook Conference “Banking on Success in a Digital Era”.  The conference was held in the bank’s home office in Atlanta on Thursday, February 24, 2022.

GSBLSU hosted a panel of industry experts speaking on the topic, “The Year Community Banks Changed – And Why We’re Not Going Back.”  Our panel (and their respective areas of expertise) will include:

Jody Hudgins (Moderator) – Regional Chief Credit Officer, First Foundation Bank, Naples, FL.

Angie Lewis (Credit/Enterprise Risk) – Group Executive, Enterprise Risk, Synovus Bank, Columbus, GA.

Sheila Ray (Human Resources) – Chief Talent Officer, Cadence Bank, N.A., Atlanta, GA.

Chad Tagtow (Information Technology) – SVP, Chief Information Officer, Citizens Bank & Trust, Lake Wales, FL.

Buddy Mortimer (Overall Bank/CEO Perspective) – President & CEO, Bank of Kilmichael, Winona,

If you were not able to attend or maybe missed a session or two, no worries. We have recorded the sessions and they are available to you at this link. We also have a link to the conference agenda.

8 Examples of Peer Analysis Measures [INFOGRAPHIC]

Peer analysis can be a valuable tool to provide benchmarks and performance insight for your bank. However, in order to make the most of this analysis, banks must first identify the right measures to use. In what areas should comparisons be drawn? Are all of the appropriate metrics being used? These are just some of the questions that bankers must ask themselves before being able to complete an efficient peer analysis review.

In his class, “Managing Bank Performance,” Paul Allen leads junior Graduate School of Banking students through the ins and outs of managing and measuring bank performance through ratio and peer analysis measures. Throughout the course, students study everything from bank balance sheets and income statements to commonly used ratios to case studies. Allen provides insight into the concepts, analysis tools, and strategies that will allow GSBLSU students to better understand and manage performance within their own institutions while also preparing them for the Bank Simulation Management course they will undertake as seniors.

The infographic below outlines eight examples of typical and useful peer analysis measures as outlined in the “Managing Bank Performance” class. If you are looking for insight into your own bank’s performance metrics, these areas are a great place to start. Likewise, a Graduate School of Banking education also brings great benefits to bankers and banks alike. Learn more about our upcoming session and how you can enroll at GSBLSU.

examples of peer analysis measures

Learning to Build Lifelong Business Relationships Through Sales

The sales cycle and process has evolved rapidly over the past several years.  Prospective clients and customers have more access to information than ever before.  This means that the way you approach them, along with their needs and wants must adapt.  Having the ability to identify where a prospect is in their journey, as well as having solutions that meet their pain points and desires is essential.  With this this understanding and strategy, you can develop a “sale” into a relationship that lasts a lifetime.  Financial advice, services, and products are the cornerstone of everyone’s hopes and desires.  Establishing a relationship on this front, no matter how substantial, can be grown.  However, finding, engaging, and growing these relationships is essential.  A simple conversation can evolve into lifelong and prosperous partnership between your institution and any number of clients.  Here are some key takeaways from Professor Jack Hubbard’s 2021 Graduate School of Banking class “Building Business Partnerships” that will allow your organization to foster the development of long-lasting business relationships.

Understand How to Prospect in Today’s Market

Building trust is the foundation of any relationship.  This becomes even more critical when personal and business finances are involved.  There are four pillars of trust-based prospecting.  The community approach, social approach, referral approach, and systematic approach all have their unique perspectives and designed intentions.

Leverage the Appointment Conversation Model

The appointment conversation model is designed to fill your pipeline and grow those relationships for future development.  This model begins with building trust and credibility.  You can achieve this by using the prospect’s name, thanking them for accepting your call, and ensure that they have time to speak.  Next, establish a previous touchpoint, it could be a conversation in the branch, a social media connection, or other common ground.  Third, differentiate yourself and your bank by creating curiosity about the different products and services you can offer.  Lastly, invite your prospect in for a face-to-face meeting.

Employ the Discovery Conversation Model

Your face-to-face conversations hold the most value in what you will be able to offer and grow with any current or prospective client.  Discovering how you can help is essential in how to drive the conversation.  The Discovery Conversation Model is designed to solve these challenges.  Similar to the Appointment Conversation Model, it begins with establishing trust and credibility.  Being up to speed on current market and economic factors, finding personal commonalities, and customizing your greeting and pleasantries can accomplish these tasks.  The second step is to frame the discussion you intend to have by stating the purpose, gaining their permission to proceed, and asking about any topics they’d also like to discuss.  Once engaged, you can explore any needs.  These needs can be discovered with context setting questions, insight-based questions, active listening, and effective transitioning toward solutions based on their answers.  The final phase is to address client concerns, explain the next steps, and confirm a commitment to move forward and collaborate.

4 Cs of Strategic Bank Marketing

In a conservative and commoditized industry that provides the marketplace with little choice due to product parity and regulatory restrictions, how do you make your bank stand out? Professor John Oxford helped the Freshman class of the Graduate School of Banking at LSU tackle this exact problem in his class, “Strategic Bank Marketing.” From marketing strategy and targeting to brand management, technology and budgeting, participants developed an understanding of modern bank marketing and took home fresh ideas and tactics on how to make their banks stand out in a sea of sameness. Among the chief takeaways were the four C’s of marketing: content, connection, conversion, and campaigns.

Content for Bank Marketing

In our modern world of digital marketing, content has long been crowned king. Consumers have quickly become accustomed to finding the answers to their questions and the solutions to their needs at their very fingertips. Now, it is up to us to provide those answers and solutions in ways that are both informative and engaging. Whether it’s a blog, video, podcast, or any other form of content, there are a few rules that should always apply. Content should be professional yet amicable, written in a style that informs the consumer but keeps in mind that the person on the other end is not a professional banker. Likewise, content should only be as long as it needs to be. Avoid relying on all the fluff, and provide true value.

Connection with Bank Consumers

Just as consumers can now find information more easily, bankers now have more options to make connecting with those consumers simpler. Today, there are multiple platforms designed specifically to allow you to reach your audience without all the waste. You no longer have to throw out mass messages on TV, billboards, or in direct mail. Rather, you can reach a targeted group of people who are either existing customers or who match the criteria typically seen in those customers with ease. Some products making that possible include MCIF (Marketing Customer Information File), Social Media Studio with Salesforce, and Pardot email marketing (also associated with Salesforce).

Conversion of Bank Prospects

Once you’ve reached your audience, the matter becomes how to successfully convert them. Just like online searches, online lead generation has grown exponentially over the past few years. Increasingly, consumers are foregoing telephone and in-person visits in favor of messaging and online interactions. By providing online solutions such as retail platform support, account opening/management, and an overall improved website experience, you can bank on increased conversions!

Campaigns for Marketing Banks

Combining all of these elements into successful campaigns with measurable success is the final step. When building a campaign around a specific product or service, you should be able to identify factors like the campaign creative, the product bio, your value proposition, your target audience, and exactly where you plan to reach them. Using digital methods, you can more accurately reach your ideal demographics in your ideal locations. Equally as important, you can use a wealth of tools to measure your campaign’s return on investment and ensure that valuable marketing dollars and efforts are not going to waste.

Bank Leadership in Times of Change: ADKAR [INFOGRAPHIC]

Change is inevitable. We all know it, and yet, so many seem reluctant to embrace it. Banks are certainly no exception. As time (and technology) marches on, many financial institutions seem to be stuck in the past, with initiatives of change often being met with resistance. Understanding the importance of keeping up with our fast-paced world, it is up to leadership to not only implement necessary changes but to take the steps needed to get their team on board. After all, initiatives are only as successful as the people behind them.

In his senior GSBLSU course, “Leadership in Times of Change,” Professor Stephen Robichaux engages students in an interactive learning process aimed at leading through times of crisis both present and future. As he explains in his breakdown of the ADKAR process, leaders need to do much more than simply inform employees that a change is going to occur. They must focus on communication, education, and reinforcement. The team must understand why this change is necessary, the consequences of not changing, and the benefits associated with the change. Then, leaders must ensure that they have the resources and knowledge needed for a smooth transition. Finally, reinforcement should be provided by monitoring the change process and ensuring that it is fully adopted.

bank leadership ADKAR

3 Approaches to Commercial Real Estate Financing [INFOGRAPHIC]

During their second year at GSBLSU, junior students have several elective courses from which to choose. These courses take a deeper dive into specific areas of banking and lending such as asset resolution and treasury management. One of these course offerings is “Commercial Real Estate Financing” by Professor Calvin Evans. Professor Evans earned his BBA in economics and his MBA with a dual concentration in real estate finance from the University of Georgia.

Throughout his one-week course, students focus on the state of the commercial real estate industry, the techniques that are used to analyze, finance, and structure successful real estate transactions, and the state of the current regulatory environment.

To begin, Professor Evans’ course takes a look at the principles of property valuation. Specifically, students will learn about three main approaches to commercial real estate valuation: development, sales, and cost. When determining final value, it will be paramount that lenders consider each approach that was used in the appraisal and apply all available data to their findings. A brief overview of each of the approaches as outlined in Professor Evans’ class is included in the infographic below.

Following the overview of property valuation, students quickly dive into the specifics of underwriting and lending for the many various types of commercial property from multi-family dwellings to retail establishments. In the end, students leave this course with a much more robust understanding of the detailed and multifaceted arena of commercial real estate financing.

commercial real estate financing