If you’re like many businesses coming out on the other side of the 2020 pandemic, you’re probably looking for some new talent to join your organization. And if you’re in banking, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with this month’s guest in the corner office: Brian Hoffman, president of Illinois Banking Business Services, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of the Illinois Bankers Association, is the originating force behind BankTalentHQ.com, a career center network that advertises banking jobs across 28 states and counting. BankTalentHQ is just one of three main initiatives IBBS maintains to provide IBA with mission-sustaining non-dues revenue.
Brian thought he’d end up as either a professional golfer or a banker. Luckily for the association community, he became an association professional among bankers instead. He talks about his professional journey and his goals for IBBS and himself as well as what keep him up at night.
Association Adviser: Tell us about your professional background. It looks like you’ve had a long-term interest in banking. How did you make your way into working with associations?
Brian Hoffman: In high school, I was involved in Junior Achievement and their Company Program. The sponsor for my group was a local bank. Over my high school years, I was able to meet and be mentored by several people who worked for the bank.
During my freshman year of college, I was fortunate to work for the bank as a part-time teller. I moved out of state for college for my final three years, but when I came back to Springfield, I ran into one of the people who had mentored me in high school and he helped me get an interview at the bank he was working at then. I was hired to be a new accounts representative, and after nine months I was promoted to branch manager.
I spent a little over ten years at the bank. That whole time, I was encouraged to be involved with our state banking association. I attended seminars and conferences and served on the young bankers division board. The experience allowed me to understand the importance of the state banking association and sparked my interest in working there if the opportunity ever came up.
In 2010, I was hired to manage the development of seminars and webinars in the education department at the Illinois Bankers Association. After a year, I was named vice president of the education subsidiary and managed all aspects of educating our bankers in Illinois including conference, seminars, and webinars. After about six months, the person in charge of our for-profit subsidiary, IBBS, left for another opportunity. For five years, I managed both the education and for-profit subsidiaries. In December 2017 I took over IBBS and currently serve as the president.
AA: What are your major responsibilities as president of Illinois Bankers Business Services, Inc.?
BH: Illinois Bankers Business Services, Inc. is the for-profit subsidiary of the Illinois Bankers Association. I work with the IBBS Board, which comprises nine members from IBA member banks who help oversee the activities of the subsidiary.
Our activities include three main lines of business: insurance, preferred vendors, and BankTalentHQ.com. We have a full-service insurance agency that I oversee. It’s managed by a licensed insurance agent who sells financial institution and health insurance products to our member institutions.
Preferred vendors are companies that want to work with our member financial institutions. Currently we promote 22 preferred vendors. We work directly with each vendor to promote and market their services.
Our newest service we created 4.5 years ago is a nationwide service called BankTalentHQ.com, a nationwide career center and job board for the financial services industry. We currently have 28 state banking associations that are part of BankTalentHQ and we share in revenue that is created in their state. I oversee the management of the career center and the marketing director who manages both the marketing and creative design for BankTalentHQ and our preferred vendors.
AA: Why is IBBS a for-profit subsidiary of Illinois Bankers Association? Why set up the business that way?
BH: The Illinois Bankers Association created the for-profit entity in the 1980’s to help shield the IBA from any liability or tax consequences of conducting an unrelated business activity. The for-profit launched an insurance company for banks early in its existence and over time created a Preferred Vendor program, working with vendors who want to do business with member banks in the state of Illinois. Five years ago, IBBS launched BankTalentHQ, which was the first nationwide product/service that was created.
AA: How does IBBS benefit IBA?
BH: IBBS creates non-dues revenue for the association. As consolidation among banks and financial institutions continue to increase, the importance of creating non-dues revenue for the association is becoming more important. Non-dues revenue supports our advocacy efforts at both the state house in Illinois and our efforts nationally with elected leaders and policy makers. Non-dues revenue helps us support our future leaders’ efforts to attract new leaders into our industry, finances literacy efforts and provides scholarship funds.
The partnerships and programs we develop with our insurance agency, preferred vendors, and BankTalentHQ also provide critical services and programs to our member banks that in turn can save them money, time, and resources. Our members look to the association to provide resources that help them do their business and do it effectively.
AA: You host a podcast for the website BankTalentHQ. What are some of the issues you’ve addressed? What has been the most salient lesson you’ve learned about podcasting?
BH: We cover a variety of subjects on the podcast, from what are the best techniques to use when interviewing for a job to what are some coaching techniques for sales from our sales coach Joe Micallef. We keep the topics HR and jobseeker related, and it doesn’t have to be just about the banking industry because we can learn from other industries as well.
The most important lesson I have learned is that creating a podcast isn’t difficult at all. We downloaded some free software to record the podcast and bought a nice microphone for about $100. We try to do a podcast every two to three weeks. That time does fly between podcasts! It does take time to prepare the podcast, search for guests to be on, do the recording and finally do any editing and posting. It is a great way to engage your audience and provide content to them.
AA: What are you goals for the coming year?
BH: My primary goal that I started last year is to take the test in December 2021 to become a CAE. I attended a CAE study group this past spring and I am completing my hours to take the test. It is something that I have been thinking about completing for the last couple of years as I grow my career at the association.
My other primary goal is to continue to grow our job board on BankTalentHQ.com. We have several state banking associations that continue to show interest in the program. We should have more than 30 states by the end of 2021. In addition, we continue to add new programs and services to set us apart from other online career centers.
AA: In terms of your job, what keeps you up at night?
BH: The biggest thing that keeps me up at night is the current rapid pace of bank mergers and consolidation. In 2000, there were more than 8,000 FDIC insured banks. Today there are just over 4,000. We are seeing a few De Novo banks starting across the country, but they do not keep up with the pace of mergers. Fewer banks mean fewer dues-paying entities that belong to our association, which means the reliance on non-dues revenue becomes even higher for us.