Last week the Indiana Bankers Association hosted its annual Mega Conference. Now in its 23rd year, the Mega Conference has grown into the most attended event held annually by a single state bank trade association in the United States. What makes this distinction extra special is that there are only 122 banks and thrift companies headquartered in Indiana. Our state ranks about 20th in the country in number of banks and thrifts, while other states still play host to 400 or more.
Thirty years ago, there were more than 600 banks and thrifts headquartered in Indiana. That was just one year before state laws changed to permit cross county line banking and then, a few months later, to allow mergers and acquisitions across state lines. Over the years, the laws have morphed at both the state and national levels to allow nationwide banking and branching, with no regard for county or state lines. These changes hit the Hoosier state hard, with only 20 percent of the Indiana-headquartered banks and thrifts in existence in 1984 now remaining.
Given that backdrop, I am often asked what makes IBA’s Mega Conference so wildly successful. While I am not sure any of us can identify all of the ingredients of the secret sauce supporting this success, we do know many.
First, IBA is blessed with tenured and talented staff, who work together as a team to make the conference meet and exceed the needs and desires of bankers, exhibitors, sponsors, advertisers and speakers.
Second, our member bankers volunteer for the committees charged with selecting the most pressing topics of the day for presentations in each educational track. Those volunteers provide a key service and assume ownership of the tracks.
Third is the generous financial support received from our associate member service providers. These companies and individuals sponsor events and activities throughout the Mega Conference. That same group purchases advertising through various means and, importantly, purchases more than 80 booth spaces in the exhibit hall. The result of this financial support is that IBA can keep the banker registration fee low, encouraging banks to send multiple registrants to Mega.
Finally, Mega consistently attracts top-quality speakers. We are blessed to have strong relationships with many outstanding speakers, who are eager to present at Mega and willing to do so at a reduced fee. As a result, we are in a position to select the best of presenters.
Thank you, one and all, for your extraordinary efforts that continue to make the IBA Mega Conference a resounding success.
S. Joe DeHaven