Boost ROI on Educational Programs

By Jack Hubbard

As both a student and a teacher, I’ve been actively involved in banker education for more than 40 years. I’ve met thousands of amazing people. And over time, I’ve seen the same themes emerge again and again. Students always have the best intentions for bringing home everything they’ve learned and putting it into practice. CEOs and senior management teams are just as eager to put that newly acquired knowledge into action. Everyone wants to maximize the return on investment and the return on time from these important educational programs and events. How do you make that happen? Here are five ideas:

  • Get the schedule. Ask the students to share an overview of the program curriculum with their immediate manager, targeting both the classes they will be taking and the extracurricular networking options. In many cases, the manager has also attended that program or had a similar experience. The manager can help navigate class choices and provide some advance coaching on the lay of the land. This guidance is important for neophytes who may not be used to the rigors of sitting in a classroom and having to concentrate for hour upon hour. It is also vital for returning students who may have elective options and might not be confident in selecting the right ones.
  • Have a conversation. Meet with the students 48 hours before they leave for the program. Go over the various courses they are taking and discuss them in context—from the perspective of their career paths and the strategic initiatives of the bank. The conversation might go something like this:As you know, the next level of your career is (Title X). There are several things that can help you move toward that objective, and from my experience, it seems like A, B and C in this curriculum might be of help to you as you think about that next level. As you also know, three of our initiatives this year involve X, Y and Z. As you work through your classes and talk with your peers, listen for some ideas in these three areas.”
  • Encourage them. The students that are the most engaged are positively reinforced by their managers back home. An occasional email or a voice mail to reassure them that all is well at the ranch helps clear the student’s mind of office clutter and helps them concentrate on learning.
  • Give them the day off. What? They have been gone for a week—maybe two—and there is a ton of stuff for them to do. That’s exactly why they should stay home. When they have a day to reflect and gather their thoughts they burn that knowledge in and can then refocus it around bank and personal strategies. Just one day to go through their pounds of material and thousands of words of notes can pay huge long-term dividends. It’s addition by subtraction. Add the knowledge to their long-term memory by removing the distractions of coming back to the bank right away.
  • Hold them accountable. A day off does not mean sleep in, play golf or just chill. Have the student prepare two short two presentations, one for you outlining what they learned for personal potential, and one for senior management targeting those top strategic initiatives. Bullet points are fine. No need for a big PowerPoint extravaganza. As a member of the Board of Directors of a bank, I find it enlightening when I receive information about what our bankers experience at schools and conferences. We get great ideas about our fiduciary responsibilities, lending ideas, and even sales and marketing suggestions. I’m certain it would be energizing if your own board could hear about what your student brings back.

The ABA has a long history of creating world class educational experiences. Thousands of bankers have benefitted from 12 targeted schools. Board members, CEOs, lenders, auditors, CMOs, retail associates, trust professionals and everyone in between make the annual migration from the office to the classroom. The instructors are top notch, the peer networking is invaluable, and even the socializing brings something to the table. Spring is about to be sprung and with it comes the 2016 bank school year. Just remember: when ABA schools are out and your bankers come home, help them transfer their great new knowledge to your bank and its objectives.


Jack Hubbard is Chief Experience Officer at St. Meyer & Hubbard, a sales performance consulting and training firm located in Elgin, Ill. He can be reached at [email protected] and @saleshubbs on Twitter.

Jack returns in 2016 for his 31st year as a faculty member of the ABA Bank Marketing School and his 16th at the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking.