Innovate to compete: 3 key themes from Bank Director Acquire or Be Acquired

3 min read

What is in store for 2024 in the digital banking landscape?

The Acquire or Be Acquired (AOBA) conference hosted by Bank Director offered promising ideas and strategies for banks to consider in 2024 and beyond. With this being my first AOBA conference, not only were many of the sessions insightful, but the networking discussions were every bit as valuable.

The conference surprised me regarding the quantity of content dedicated to technology and innovation. Here are some key takeaways that left a lasting impression on me.

1. Acquisition costs remain unsustainable
2. Tremendous opportunities for community banks
3. A “buy plus build” approach

The conference started with a dynamic discussion on the ever-changing competitive landscape that banks currently face. Going beyond mergers and acquisitions, the event explored various avenues for banks to grow, focusing on technology opportunities, enhancing shareholder value, fostering organic growth, attracting top talent, building exceptional teams, bolstering cybersecurity measures, harnessing the power of data, and leveraging artificial intelligence, among other topics.

Indeed, it seemed that bankers are steadfast in their commitment to leveraging technology to improve existing processes, with AI garnering significant attention. As I engaged in discussions with industry leaders, experts, and innovators, I discovered several noteworthy highlights that I think are crucial to share with the community.


The hottest topics that dominated conversations

Banking leaders are navigating a challenging time, attempting to stay relevant while searching for areas to evolve and remain competitive. My top 3 takeaways from the event are:

1. Acquisition costs remain unsustainable

Acquisition costs continue to pose a challenge for banks in their quest to stay competitive against agile and customer-centric FinTechs, with a significant difference in costs of $100 for banks compared to a mere $1.50 for FinTechs.

The key takeaway here is the need to eliminate any obstacles right from the start of the customer relationship by leveraging technology for automation and decision-making processes, creating a frictionless customer experience.

2. Tremendous opportunities for community banks

Community banks have a golden opportunity to establish their dominance in the small business lending market, using it as a stepping stone to acquire and secure deposits and operating accounts from these businesses.

This strategic move allows community banks to forge strong relationships right from the start, positioning themselves as trusted financial partners for small businesses.

3. A “Buy plus Build” approach 

When it comes to technology transformations, the old debate of buying versus building is no longer relevant. Instead, organizations should adopt a "buy plus build" approach to stay ahead in the market.

This means focusing on speed to market while also future-proofing the organization against emerging technologies and capabilities. By embracing this approach, banks can ensure they are constantly adapting and evolving to meet the changing needs of their customers.

Empowering Community Banks: Harnessing Technology for Competitive Edge

We have reached an important inflection point where technology has never been more affordable and attainable by community banks to differentiate themselves in this hyper-competitive market.  We consider it a privilege to walk alongside community financial institutions as they innovate to compete.

How are you prioritizing your innovation strategies in 2024?

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