Net.Finance reflections

Net.Finance 2008This year’s Net.Finance conference was the best yet. This was my third annual Net.Finance (not including their Online Innovations conference this past January).

The first year, I was new to financial services, and it was a great opportunity to learn about the industry from some of our leading thinkers and doers. The second year was great for networking, but the presentations were somewhat hit and miss. This year many of the presentations were strong, and the people I met were incredible. It was a great experience, professionally and socially.

The main takeaway I have from this year is that the online part of the financial services sector is at a healthy, natural plateau. Many of the things we’ve been exploring are now in place, and it’s time to execute, learn and improve. This includes metrics and analytics, optimization (A/B testing and multivariate), search engine marketing & optimization, website usability and core online banking functionality. We’ve gone from a period of doubt and experimentation to a period of adoption and execution.

I sense many of my peers are getting the respect they deserve within their organizations, and have roadmaps in front of them to follow. All the while they’re keeping an eye on some of the upcoming innovations, including social lending, personal financial management and mobile banking. I was amazed and heartened by how many more people were open to the Prosper and Wesabe models. A year ago, it was all so foreign, and many people I met at other FIs just didn’t have it on their radar. Not any more.

If you want to catch up on great blog coverage of the conference, my peer at Westminster Savings Credit Union, Ed Brett, captured it all on his new and valuable blog, Small FI Blog. Check it out.

Day 1 at Net.Finance.

Net.Finance 2008Today was a good day. I’m too tired to write much. I was extremely pleased with the way my presentation went. The hard work paid off.

If you’re looking for good Net.Finance coverage, my peer at Westminster Savings Credit Union is partially live-blogging. Meet the fantastic Ed Brett and his Small FI Blog.

Oh, and how did I miss that Michigan First Credit Union started a blog? It’s all about their community engagement, and is called MI Community Space. Did you all know that? I met James Anderson at Net.Finance last year, and spoke with him again today. A highly impressive individual.


Also, check out Rob Cottingham’s latest cartoon with a reference to our Webby Nomination.

I’m off to Net.Finance.

Net.Finance 2008I leave today for Scottsdale, Arizona to attend and present at the Net.Finance conference. This will be my third year attending Net.Finance, and I always come back with some great new ideas to implement, lots of ideas to share with my peers, some new friends and colleagues from across North America and a nice time away in a sunny climate.

This year, it’s especially nice because this is an important first anniversary for me. It was a year ago when I presented at Net.Finance about ChangeEverything.ca, and my journey on the conference circuit began in full force. Presenting at conferences has become a real passion for me. I get to share knowledge, meet lots of fascinating people, attend conferences that Vancity simply doesn’t have the budget to send me to, and I get to perform in front of a crowd, which is something I truly enjoy.

This year I’m presenting on Corporate Social Responsibility As Key Differentiator, which is a fancy way of saying social marketing and social media. I’ll talk about how Vancity’s community focus takes an increasingly strong role in our advertising and marketing, how we can leverage that community work into successful use of social media, and how it positively impacts our triple bottom line.

I gave two practice sessions to my peers at Vancity on Friday, and feel ready to go on stage and present in Arizona.

And this year at Net.Finance marks another nice anniversary. It was a year ago, in April of 2007 that I changed my blog’s purpose and focus from a place to put humourous links for my friends (with a whopping subscriber base of 8 readers at the time [thanks Ruben]) to a place where I discuss social media, corporate social responsibility, online branding and banks and credit unions (and now have a subscriber base of 140 or so readers [thank you]).

It’s been profoundly rewarding, enlightening and social. I have met some great people through my blog, taken part in some amazing discussions, and have received some very useful feedback on my work. It’s something almost indescribably wonderful.

So now I head off to Arizona, with five more major conferences ahead of me this year, an excitement about my work, and some extremely exciting projects ahead.

So thanks for reading, let me know if you’ll be at Net.Finance, and I hope to break 500 connections on LinkedIn by the time I return.

Ready and raring to present.

I spent a big chunk of this past weekend creating my presentations for both Net.Finance 2008 and CUES Experience.

Net.Finance 2008It’s funny to look back at my initial presentation from last year’s Net.Finance about ChangeEverything.ca. It was so full of words and clunky. I am relying mostly on images and my own storytelling now to get the message across. It’s a big evolution, and I’m excited to see how it will go over.

My talk at Net.Finance will be Corporate Social Responsibility As Key Differentiator, which may be like speaking socialism to a room full of bankers. Hopefully I can at least make it funny and entertaining. I am pulling data from our experience at Vancity as a community-driven organization, proving the model that social marketing can break through the clutter, epsecially in our heavily commoditized industry.

CUES ExperienceAt CUES my talk is called Credit Unions and Social Media: A Case Study, and will cover a lot of the same ground, but deal a lot more with social media and go into more detail around how ChangeEverything.ca works. I have the luxury of a 75 minute session, which is by far the longest talk I have given. It’ll be nice not to be pressed for time, and be able to engage in a discussion throughout, rather than at the end, time permitting.

Partnership Symposium 2008I’ll take what I learn from them to shape my end of the year keynote at the Partnership Symposium 2008. I’m really excited about it. My talk is called Engaging with the Social Economy, and I’m just starting to wrap my head around what I’ll cover. It will deal with how credit unions are uniquely positioned to use the banking platform to make our society a better and more equitable place.

Please let me know if you’ll be at any of these events. I look forward to seeing you there.