The ABA Banking Journal’s Top Hits of 2020

As with everyone, our year at the ABA Banking Journal was dominated by the coronavirus crisis and the banking industry’s response. From February to April, our site traffic quintupled as bankers — and the general public — sought information and insight on regulatory guidance around lobby closures, the passage of the CARES Act and most of all the subsequent implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program. For the full year, site traffic increased over 2019 by nearly 70 percent.

We published more than 200 Newsbytes articles, magazine features and podcast episodes on different aspects of the PPP — in many cases, breaking news about new program developments. News articles about the PPP accounted for 15 of the 20 most-read items on our site this year.

The response to COVID-19 and the economic meltdown triggered by the response to the virus dominated reader attention in our feature-length stories as well, although we are reminded that life went on and that bankers had a wide range of non-coronavirus challenges capturing their attention as well. Presented here are the top 10 most-read feature items (not including our short news coverage) published on the Banking Journal website this year. Thank you for reading in 2020 — and feel free to let us know how we can better serve you in 2021 by emailing [email protected].


  1. Human Trafficking: Closer to Home Than You ThinkOur most-read feature was an ABA Bank Compliance cover story by Terri Luttrell reminding bankers that they could encounter human trafficking in their backyards—no matter where they live or the size of their financial institution.
  2. The Demographic Hurricane Makes Landfall. Published prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lyman Stone’s Banking Journal cover story highlighted worrisome long-term trends in U.S. births, marriage and mortality that pose risks for banks — and that have only been accelerated by the coronavirus.
  3. The Spanish Flu Pandemic and the U.S. Economy. Our history columnist John Steele Gordon took a look at the impact of the last major U.S. pandemic: the Spanish flu more than a century ago. Bottom line: the United States was not wealthy enough then to afford the kind of economic lockdowns we saw in response to 2020.
  4. A Return to (More or Less) Normal Bank Operations. As banks prepared in late spring to get back to a more routine operational footing, senior editor Monica C. Meinert highlighted practices banks were adopting, including face masks, medical checks, physical distancing and airflow management, as well as resources from ABA to help.
  5. The Pros and Cons of Digital Marketing. In a companion to a 2019 ABA Bank Marketing piece by Mark Gibson on the pros and cons of traditional marketing, Mary Ellen Georgas-Tellefsen explored when digital marketing tools may work best for banks.
  6. What Risk Managers Need to Know About Cloud Migration. Shifting bank technology functions to the cloud has many benefits for banks—but managing the risks requires a different framework, wrote digital editor Craig Colgan.
  7. What Compliance Needs to Know About Hemp. While the 2018 Farm Bill authorized production and processing of hemp plants with less than 0.3% THC, bankers still need to carefully review USDA’s rules. ABA VP Rob Rowe provided the complex state of play on hemp regulation.
  8. Coronavirus Response: Common Practices for Community BanksIn March, when the virus was still mysterious to many and fear was in the air, ABA’s in-house coronavirus czar provided a fact-based banker guide to sanitation practices, client service changes, employee policies and management practices. (An ABA Bank Marketing piece later in the year examined whether the open-office concept would be another casualty of COVID-19.)
  9. COVID-19 Scams and the Elderly: Inspiring Savvy Seniors. Compliance professionals were uniquely positioned to educate older Americans about the growing number of scams surrounding the pandemic. Editor Laine Crosby broke down some of the COVID-related scams targeting seniors in ABA Bank Compliance.
  10. Five Social Media Moves Banks Can Make in the COVID-19 Crisis. Rounding out the top 10, Denim Social CEO Doug Wilber provided advice for banks to ensure their social media strategies are updated, actively managed and supportive of customer needs.