Cannabis Banking: Can I Do It? Key Takeaways

Mike Kennedy
|
July 26, 2019

In speaking with those that attended our Cannabis Banking: Can I Do It? webinar last week, it’s clear that many institutions are working on answering this exact question. Can they do it? Throughout these conversations, I continue hearing slight variations of the same key takeaways which I’ve summarized below. If your institution is working on answering this question, then hopefully these takeaways will be helpful as you build your strategy.

1. It CAN be done!

The first and most obvious takeaway is that cannabis banking can be done without adding significant time, cost, or risk exposure to your institution. The caveat, of course, is that it must be done correctly and adhere to existing guidance while also providing a profitable line of business for the institution. Those I spoke with made note of the “moving parts” that came into focus after watching our webinar, and now feel better positioned to create or update their cannabis banking strategy. 

2. There’s a lot of information out there

Many institutions evaluating cannabis banking struggle with figuring out where to start because there seems to be so much complexity around the topic. Between the state and federal guidelines, legal cases, articles, and resources like this webinar, the amount of information available can feel overwhelming. Luckily, there are experts you can turn to that can help you make sense of all this and help you craft the right approach for your institution. 

3. There are facts and there are opinions

Between your own independent research, input from your state league or association, and feedback from internal and external stakeholders, it can be extremely hard to separate fact from opinion, which leads to a higher degree of confusion. For example, one board member may have a totally different opinion than another as to the feasibility of cannabis banking, but that could stem largely from a lack of alignment on the key facts and details. As with any new initiative, there’s always a degree of subjectivity needed, but it’s important to build a baseline understanding of the facts from which you and your team are making your decisions. 

4. First hand experience is invaluable

Alan Hanson’s experience building and overseeing Maps Credit Union’s ($775m, OR) cannabis banking program offers one of the better use cases in understanding whether or not your institution can bank this industry. Alan shared a few examples of what he and the Maps team did to ensure their program would withstand regulatory scrutiny. Seeing Maps’ Chief Risk Officer provide Senate testimony in support of the SAFE Banking Act this week gives even more credence to Alan’s perspective.

This webinar was the first in a 3-part series designed to help institution’s develop or enhance their cannabis banking programs. Part 2 of the series will focus on the question, should I do it?, in order to help you understand how this opportunity aligns with your financial and strategic goals, as well as what factors you can use to more effectively weigh the risks vs. rewards of cannabis banking. 

You can register for part 2 of the webinar series here.



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