While bankers have rightly started to change the industry’s image from being old and stodgy to being hipper, we caution against swerving into dork-dom. The other day we were in a meeting where a banker started “raising the roof” with the double open hand pumping gesture over his head because of getting a loan approved. Unless you are working with Habitat for Humanity, no roofs should ever be raised in banking.
Here are eleven other sayings or gestures that should be kept out of banking. In the name of full disclosure, we have almost been guilty of every one, but we are doing our best to reform.
Let’ face it - nothing is going to be disruptive in banking. Banking vendors can stop saying it, because the whole banking industry is built around the concept of trust and stability. Disruption is often an antithesis of those two concepts. We are for innovation, but we are also realists. We can talk about Bitcoin all we want, but by the time it moves mainstream, bankers will find a way to make it non-disruptive. While we are on the topic, bankers need to stop referring to Square, Paypal and any person-to-person payment platform as being disruptive – it is not like the money is leaving the banking system.
“Really? BofA is offering our client Libor + 1.90%? Really?” – Yes, it’s all real; we don’t have to keep saying it. You start with “Really?” and the next thing you know you have launched into a whole Saturday Night Live skit. It is best to avoid it.
9. Being “Authentic”
“Authenticity” is probably the most overused business term for 2013. If you have to acknowledge it, teach it or design a marketing campaign around it, it is probably not going to happen.
8. Keeping it “Real”
We appreciate that you’re listening to hip hop on the drive home, but throwing the peace sign in photos, “making it rain up in here,” “getting your underwriting on,” “giving a shout out to your homies in finance” or “dropping some knowledge on a borrower” should be avoided. For that matter, under no circumstances should you be doing anything that sounds like “fo shizzal.” If you still have a need to keep it real, waive some fees for the under banked.
7. Objectifying Your “Game”
We are not sure what “game” you are playing, but “stepping up your game,” “bringing your “A” game,” being a “game changer” or declaring that “you got game” shouldn’t happen within 400 yards of any vault. Leave your game for the weekends.
6. Being Literal
Bankers are using “literally” so much that they have lost the meaning, as they likely mean “figuratively.” We doubt the regulators are going to “literally drive a stake through your heart,” but we could be wrong.
5. Ironic Nostalgia
Ever since Alanis Morissette sung about irony, the word hasn’t been the same since. Lately, it has gotten back on track, but now in a bid to be cool, bankers are missing the boat on intentional irony. Giving away a toaster for opening an account used to be ironic, but when everyone is doing it, it becomes just weak marketing.
4. The Namaste Bow
We have noticed that you are mediating more, taking yoga and practicing mindfulness, but unless you are a Japanese, Indian or Tai banker, you should probably avoid the prayer and bow move as it borders on mockery. Of course, if you are pitching the Dalai Lama on a home mortgage or wealth management services – by all means ignore this section.
3. The Jack Black Finish
Comedian Jack Black is hilarious, but he shouldn’t go into banking – he also has two annoying speech habits. Raising your tone at the end of a sentence as in “Loan pricing is getting craazzzy,” where “crazy” is drawn out and said in a falsetto voice is starting to get overused. The same goes for bankers copying the Jack Black standard argument agreement as in when a borrower wants to move their account because they are sick of the $35 overdraft charges from Chase and the best response from the account relationship manager is “I know, right?” probably indicates more training is needed.
2. Your Wheelhouse
That line of credit might be right in your wheelhouse, but if you are trying to update your image, making a nautical reference to another industry dominated by older white men probably is suboptimal. When we hear wheelhouse we are either thinking the SS Minnow from Gilligan’s Island or Titanic - neither is good.
1. “It Is What It Is”
This is admittedly a pet peeve of ours, but whenever a banker says “it is what it is” we feel like shorting their bank. Loan pricing, competition, borrower attitude, regulation and the hundreds of other challenges bankers face are not passive experiences. When we hear “it is what it is” we automatically think “victim.” Bankers always have a choice and by applying some effort, some intelligence and some marketing, bankers can turn a seemingly uncontrollable situation into an opportunity.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on December 30, 2013