Investing in Education

By Rod Brown

Providing ways for our member bank employees to develop professionally and stay current on the newest trends in banking and the latest regulations impacting bank operations has always been a top priority for the California Bankers Association.

Earlier this year, we unveiled the CBA Scholarship Initiative to underscore our commitment to the professional development of CBA member bank employees by providing up to $250,000—for this year—in scholarships to cover the expenses for a number of educational opportunities. The funds to operate this program are from the accumulated reserves of the CBA Group Insurance Trust program, which was a health benefits program the CBA previously administered on behalf of a number of participating member banks.

We officially launched the scholarship program in early March, and it has been well-received by our member banks. Any full-time employee of a CBA member bank who is employed in California is eligible to apply for scholarship funds to cover tuition for the full three years at the Pacific Coast Banking School or the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking, and tuition for college courses related to banking or finance offered by an accredited educational institution. Scholarship funds are also available to cover fees for select professional certificate programs and related preparation courses and materials, and for registration fees at two CBA educational programs: the Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering, and safety and soundness seminars.

We set a deadline of April 8 to receive applications for both banking schools. We had 11 applicants from nine different banks apply, and we were able to award each bank a scholarship. Eight of these candidates will be attending PCBS and one candidate will be attending Stonier. By mid-June, we had awarded nearly $70,000 in scholarships, and we continue to actively market the availability of scholarship funds for the remaining categories.

With the number of banks operating in California declining as a result of ongoing industry consolidation, we are continually exploring new ways to demonstrate the value proposition of CBA membership and increase member engagement. While our advocacy efforts remain one of our central selling points and priorities, this scholarship program represents one of our strongest investments and membership benefit offerings to date.

A southern California bank executive who was recently profiled in our California Banker magazine was asked why it was important for his bank to be a member of the CBA. His response captured the feeling we hope all our member banks share with respect to our scholarship program: “We were very proud to have one of our rising stars win a scholarship from CBA to attend the Pacific Coast Banking School. This action by CBA truly shows CBA’s commitment to the future of California banking. We look at CBA and its partners as valuable resources for everything we need to operate in this very complex banking environment.”

Rod Brown is president and CEO of the California Bankers Association.