Banker To Banker
For her sheer authenticity and clarity in thinking, Kat Cole remains one of our favorite corporate leaders in America. We met her at the ICBA a couple of years ago and just saw her last week at the ABA Marketing Conference. She did not disappoint. She gave us three questions to ponder as well as a methodology for a roadmap of things you need to fix at the Bank. The lessons were particularly germane to strategic planning and can serve to boost your bank’s performance immediately.
If you want a more innovative bank, it starts, and largely stops, with what your approval process looks like for new technology. Take a human and force them to grow up in New York City. Around age 20, you force them to go to conferences on living in the outdoors, hunting, fishing, and survival. You also hire consultants to come in and teach outdoor skills. Take your well-outdoor trained city dweller and then put them into the middle of the Colorado Rockies, chances are they become bear-food in a week. That is basically how banks are handling innovation.
Too many banks in the last financial crises fundamentally misunderstood or did not pay attention to structural subordination risk. We feel that this pattern is partially repeating at some banks today. Further, most banks overestimate the amount of credit support that can be recognized across corporate entities and individual sponsors, and this leads to misguided lending practices. We want to explain where banks can buttress their credit underwriting when dealing w
“What do I need to open a checking account?” and “What is the best savings account?” are two trending bank-related searches that are becoming popular. In years past, potential bank customers used to put in a utilitarian “checking account” to search banks offering checking accounts. Now, given changing search engine algorithms, better content, and more comfort using conversational searches people are using complete sentences in their search query. As a result, some banks are leaping ahead of the competition by leveraging this trend.
Those Somali pirates are a wily bunch. While pirate attacks off the coast of East Africa are down, the average ransom is up. Most of the increase can be attributed to going after more modern ships and with better negotiating tactics. The Economics of Security research initiative looked at 179 hijackings and interviewed professional pirate negotiators to see what can be gleaned. The results were not only interesting; they hold the keys for bankers looking to negotiate bank acquisition, a branch purchase, product pricing or a loan workout.
In banking, as everywhere else in life, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The first page of a credit memo is essential for credit analysts, lenders, management, and board members. The first page is prime real estate where the average reader will spend 25% to 50% of the time reviewing the credit submission. Because the first page commands so much of the average reader’s time, it is vital to draft the first page clearly, concisely and compellingly.
The Credit Memo
When it comes to long-range strategic planning in banking, what to do about payments, should be in the top five considerations up there with treasury management, capital allocation, risk tolerance, and human capital. Payments are such a central part to banking and are now undergoing such a radical change that all banks have an opportunity to reclaim transaction market share back from the card networks, card processors and even national banks. Below, we highlight our ten considerations when developing a payments strategy.
Last week we tagged along with The Bank of Charles Town (BCT) crew who, like us, are heavy believers in “cultural tours.” BCT used a series of these tours to kick off their strategic planning season with the purpose of grabbing ideas that could spark creative thinking. Almost every time we debate if it makes sense to put the crush of our To-Do List on hold for a day and spend time at an unrelated industry. Fortunately, every time we come back from one of these tours, we have a list of tested ideas that end up saving us countless hours.
Many banks put financial literacy education squarely in their Community Redevelopment Act (CRA) effort using the mindset that financial literacy is an affliction of low-to-moderate income households. The reality is, financial illiteracy affects us all. Some banks believe consumer financial literacy is not only good for consumer prosperity but also makes good business for banks. While this seems logical, it has been hard to prove.
Back in the 1980s, there were more banks, smaller banks, and little technology. We were still driving checks around, there was no online banking, and networked ATMs was the latest in bank technology. At the time, the rule of thumb for bankers was that each bank employee produced about $20,000 of operating profit per year. Since each bank had about 100 employees, operating profit was about $2mm per community bank. In this article, we look at how this equation has changed and what it means for the future.