Conferences can be overwhelming. Even more so when the conference has multiple tracks, breakout sessions, and a varied list of pace-setting industry speakers. The 2019 ThinkBIG Conference — which combines MainStreet Technologies’ National CECL Conference and Sageworks’ Lending & Risk Summit and brings together industry thought leaders, experts, financial institution peers, CPAs, auditors, and regulators — definitely falls into this category.

For financial institution staff with responsibilities related to CECL and the ALLL, or for those who want to know more about how CECL will impact the institution, ThinkBIG is the one conference this year to attend. And once you’re registered, it’s important to have a strategy for getting the most from the conference.

To get the most from ThinkBIG, invest a bit of time into this simple strategy:

1. Build a plan of attack
2. Set goals
3. Execute

Build a Plan of Attack

Earlier this month, Abrigo (formerly MainStreet Technologies, Sageworks, Banker’s Toolbox, and Farin)  announced not only FASB’s Hal Schroeder as a primary speaker at ThinkBIG but also upwards of 40 other speakers. Other speakers slated include:

• Dorsey Baskin, Partner Emeritus at Grant Thornton LLP
• Gordon J. Dobner, Partner in BKD’s National Financial Services Group
• Francisca Ventriglia, Manager of Advisory Risk Analytics at KPMG
• Michael L. Gullette, CPA, Senior Vice President of Tax & Accounting at the American Bankers Association
• Faye Miller, CPA, Partner in RSM US LLP’s National Professional Standards Group
• Thomas J. Parliment, Chairman and CEO of Parliment Consulting
• Mike Shearer, Managing Director, PwC

With such a large and diverse group of speakers, it is important to have a plan of attack going into the conference or you run the risk of missing a session of particular interest.

Some of the session topics related to CECL and portfolio risk are:

• Communicating CECL to Your Board
• Disclosure Implications for Lender Financial Statements
• Ways to Leverage Stress Testing the Portfolio
• CECL 101

When building your schedule, review the session titles and consider the topics and speakers that are important to you. There are going to be conflicts that will force you to choose one session over another and having prioritized ahead of time will make those decisions easier. Remember to know your limits, pace yourself, and plan to take notes. The program released at the conference will help you by listing a few takeaways from each session.

Set Goals

With 14 accounting CPE credits to earn and two potential learning tracks (CECL + Portfolio Risk and Lending + Credit Risk), it could be easy to get lost in all of the options, so take some time to set some goals for yourself. Here are a few examples of goals you might set:

• Gain CPE Credits
• Advance Segment Knowledge
• Increase Knowledge of Regulatory Compliance
• Build Networking Contacts
• Build a Plan of Action to Bring Back to Your Financial Institution

Every attendee’s goals will differ, but remember, you want to make them attainable and actionable.


When ThinkBIG starts for Abrigo clients on Sept. 23 and for everyone else on Sept. 24, you will be among former Federal Reserve staffers, FASB leaders, accounting industry leaders, and high-profile consultants. And the location – the beautiful Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando – will certainly be distracting. But plan ahead, remember your plan, stick to it, and enjoy the conference.

To learn more, access ThinkBIG registration information or email

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