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Tompkins VIST Bank Mentors Alvernia Students for Community Bank Case Study Competition

Tompkins VIST Bank Mentors Alvernia Students for Community Bank Case Study Competition

Students learn about banking, provide recommendations for future

WYOMISSING, PA – Tompkins VIST Bank recently mentored a group of Alvernia students as part of a case study competition designed to help college students better understand the financial structure, and the market and technology trends impacting community banks. The Community Bank Case Study Competition, sponsored annually by the Pennsylvania Bankers Association, is designed to develop the  next generation of bankers.  The eleven Alvernia students competed against other colleges and universities; winners were eligible for academic scholarships and the opportunity to attend a Federal Reserve banking conference in the fall.

 “This was a great way for us to share information about our industry with business students so that they might consider banking as a career,” said Neena Miller, Tompkins VIST Bank executive vice president, who helped coordinate the program on the bank side.

The students participated in the case study as part of Dr. Scott Ballantyne’s semester-long Business Finance class.  “The goal was to expose students to the world of community banking while utilizing skills they’ve learned in various courses throughout their collegiate career,” said Ballantyne, an associate professor of Finance.  This was the first time Alvernia participated in the competition, he added, and said that while the students’ entries were not selected for the next level of competition, the PBA’s feedback was very helpful. 

How the case study worked

The students were divided into three teams, each with the following tasks: analyze the bank’s financial statements; research marketing, technology and other trends impacting community banks; and present their findings and recommendations to a group of the bank’s executives. 

Tompkins VIST Bank staff helped the students learn about the bank through presentations and discussions at the college over the course of the spring semester. “Tompkins VIST went ‘all in’ on the project,” said Ballantyne.  Riley Pearson, one of the students, agreed.  “We got tons of support from VIST,” he said.  The bankers were equally impressed with the students. “They asked a lot of good questions and really grasped bank lingo,” said Pam Shenk, senior vice president and mortgage manager.

The final presentations

The students presented their results to the bankers and their professor at a luncheon near the college in May. One consistent recommendation was that Tompkins VIST Bank and all community banks would benefit from the increased use of technology to attract younger customers.  Scott Gruber, the bank’s president and CEO, couldn’t agree more. “Banking is changing at a pace I haven’t seen in my 30 plus years in the industry,” he said, after thanking the students for their efforts and insights.  “Our goal is to make sure technology enhances, not replaces, a good customer experience.”  And finally, he encouraged them to consider a career in banking. “There’s a lot of opportunity in our very dynamic industry.”

Note:  Based on their experience with the case study, two of the students later applied for and were accepted as interns with the bank this year.