As the financial services industry has become more technology-driven and more complex operationally, user conferences have become key events along with industry association conferences. By providing a venue for banking professionals to collaborate directly with their technology providers and other peer institutions, user conferences represent a proven way for banks and credit unions to extend the ROI of their technology investments. Examiners and auditors recognize the importance of participation in these events and many now expect attendance to gain industry knowledge and strengthen existing vendor relationships.
Regulatory Expectations – Vendor Management
Examiners are increasingly focused on how a financial institution manages their vendors. According to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) IT Examination Handbook, “User groups are another mechanism financial institutions can use to monitor and influence their service provider. User groups can participate and influence service provider testing (i.e., security, disaster recovery, and systems) as well as promote client issues. Independent user groups can monitor and influence a service provider better than its individual clients. Collectively, the group will constitute a significant portion of the service provider’s business. User groups offer advantages to both the service provider and the serviced institution by allowing customers to discuss and prioritize their concerns…service providers should obtain customer feedback though user groups or customer surveys.”
In addition to effective vendor management requirements, the FFIEC also requires employees of financial institutions to participate in ongoing education and technical expertise to remain in compliance.
Educational Benefits of a Users’ Conference
Regulatory and compliance issues aside, user conferences offer a host of benefits to participating banks and credit unions, such as:
Well-designed webinars or online training sessions are great resources, but focused, in-person learning, and networking allows attendees to remain current on the latest technology solutions and enhancements, industry developments, and specific products and functionality that your vendor is working on. The opportunity to learn first-hand from industry and subject matter experts, as well as share your own experiences and expertise, really should not be underestimated.
User conference learning opportunities often consist of:
- Basic and advanced workshops or sessions
- Issue-focused roundtable discussions
- Networking opportunities with peers
- Software demonstrations
- Professional development courses
- Hands-on training and consultations with vendors
Many find the greatest value in user conference participation through peer discussions and open Q&A sessions on best practices. These sessions give customers access to some of the best information and insight on how other institutions are utilizing the vendor’s solutions to solve problems and drive efficiencies and profitability.
We know from experience that peer groups serve as the perfect environment to share and exchange ideas, concerns, successes and failures tied to the industry. Many community banks and credit unions share the same worries about technology, compliance, security, and business issues. These events provide a venue for you to hear others’ experiences and tap into their knowledge, providing you the opportunity to make industry friends and gain a trusted group of individuals you can rely on in the future.
The Safe Systems National Customer User Conference, NetConnect, is less than a month away. This event will bring Safe Systems’ employees and strategic partners together with a variety of banking professionals representing technology, compliance, operations and management roles.
We understand the value of user conferences and we use that opportunity to meet with a selection of customers (Customer Advisory Board) to discuss existing and new products and services that will meet their future business goals.
If you’ve never been to a user conference, don’t take our word for it. Here’s what a few of our customers have said: