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The ’shooting-the-breeze’ method of learning business banking

“How do we teach the next generation of bankers?” queries Ben Shandrow, SVP at Columbia Bank in Washington State. Here is the short version…read the article Ripples in the Pond in the RMA Spring Newsletter.

Ben sites formal training programs, RMA news articles, seminars, books. “However,” he says, “I have found that the most effective tool in training is the office meetings where we share our experiences and life’s adventures … This is where banking wisdom is truly learned, remembered and subsequently told over and over again.”

Ben says each one of the seasoned and experienced bankers has a responsibility to personally take the time to train the next generation of bankers. And he acknowledges this is not easy as it requires spending precious time in what seems like “rehashing
the basics”.

I’d like to turn the tables. The best way to learn business banking is to seek out the stories of the seasoned, experienced bankers.

  • When they give you a quick answer, respectfully ask if they can give you another example.
  • When you see something that just does not make sense to you, in a tax return or financial statement, ask someone who has been around the block more times than you have.
  • When you attend training sessions, take advantage of the person in the front of the room, but also of the others in the room.

In our time-pressed business environment, it often seems there is no time for shooting the breeze. And sometimes, shooting the breeze may be the best way to learn.

About the Author
Linda Keith CPA is an expert in credit risk readiness and credit analysis. She trains banks and credit unions throughout the United States, both in-house and in open-enrollment sessions, on Tax Return and Financial Statement Analysis. She is in the trenches with lenders, analysts and underwriters helping them say "yes" to good loans. Creator of the Tax Return Analysis Virtual Classroom at, she speaks at banking associations on risk management, lending and director finance topics.