By Fred L. Green IIIKeen insight into the financial services industry is just one of the many benefits that thousands of emerging leaders have gained during the past 60 years through involvement in the South Carolina Bankers Association’s Young Bankers Division.
The division enables members to work with current and future financial services leaders, and provides opportunity to gain a better understanding of banking and issues critical to the industry. It also offers occasion to cultivate contacts and relationships with political leaders on both state and federal levels.
If your state doesn’t have an emerging leaders program or no longer has an active program, I urge you to make the investment in time to get one started or revived. The advantages, both for individuals and the industry as a whole, cannot be overemphasized.
Here in South Carolina, taking part in our emerging leaders program has proven beneficial to bankers at institutions both big and small.
Sam Erwin, president and chief executive officer of the Palmetto Bank of Greenville, S.C., told me his involvement in the division allowed him to be plugged into banking on a statewide basis.
“My time with the Young Bankers Division helped me develop personal and professional relationships that will be with me for the rest of my life,” he said. “I have developed great friendships that started at Young Banker events, and have relied on contacts I made as part of my involvement to hire and work with some great bankers.”
I’ve heard similar comments from many other South Carolina bankers over the years.
The SCBA’s Young Bankers Division has as its mission a focus on education and networking. This is fulfilled through several initiatives, including:
- A financial literacy program that touched 58,000 individuals during the past fiscal year. Hundreds of bankers visit South Carolina classrooms and civic groups across the state each year to promote financial education;
- A scholarship program highlighted by the Young Bankers Division Golf Tournament, which this year awarded $42,000 to the children of employees of SCBA member banks;
- Banking Careers 101, an annual event designed to bolster the state’s banking industry by recruiting bright, young talent interested in a financial services career;
- The Young Bankers Conference, held annually each spring. Some 200 emerging leaders celebrated the division’s 60th anniversary this past spring at the 2015 conference; and
- Networking through events such as Young Bankers/Young Lawyers gatherings, where professionals can share leads and develop relationships.
Not only do South Carolina bankers who get involved with the emerging leaders program recognize its benefits, but the advantages are apparent to those above them as well.
Nowhere is the value of our Young Bankers Division more evident than in succession planning. Each year at our annual meeting, the past chairmen of our association choose an Outstanding Young Banker. Although honorees are not required to have been involved in our Young Bankers Division, most if not all have been.
A glance back at the list of recipients since the award was instituted in 1970 demonstrates the importance of the emerging leaders program, as fully 44 of the 46 honorees have progressed to C-suite leadership roles in banking institutions.
Indeed, the emerging leaders program offers an ideal stepping stone for talented young bankers interested in learning more about financial services and committed to bettering the banking industry.
I would encourage all my counterparts in state associations who are contemplating resurrecting or starting emerging leader programs to make it their mission to do so as soon as possible.
Fred L. Green III is president and CEO of the South Carolina Bankers Association.