Banker To Banker
For the majority of bankers, maintaining or increasing net interest margin (NIM) is the single most significant focus today. The shape of the yield curve and lower rates have caused NIM compression across the board and have hurt bank equity performance. While we are not big fans of managing bank performance using NIM as it doesn’t take into account risk and cost, it is one of the most common performance metrics used in banking.
Few bankers doubt the power of great storytelling. Instead of advertising, many banks have evolved into showcasing a customer, employee, or creative narrative that walks the reader to some point of conflict and then tells of a resolution. A story gets the reader or listener emotionally connected to the bank in ways that traditional, single message advertising can’t. Over the past three years, banks have learned that it is not just about telling a story but how to construct marketing around the story that makes a difference.
Today LIBOR is linked to over $250 Trillion (that is with a “T”) in financial instruments and has been used as a reference rate for more than 30 years. However, regulators, for various reasons, are driving a shift to an alternative reference rate. In 2017, ARRC (Alternative Reference Rate Committee) identified the alternative reference rate in the US as SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate). Most community banks use LIBOR sparingly in their loan and deposit contracts. However, if a community bank has even one LIBOR contract, the issue of fallback language becomes essential.
If you look at the sensitivity in a bank’s budget, $1 of investment in a new line of business usually doesn’t break even for two to three years. $1 invested in finding a new customer usually returns about 9%, while $1 invested in a new product is usually above 20%. This all compares to about a 40%+ return invested in improving processes (loan, branch, cash management, etc.) and about an 80% plus return spent on reducing customer churn, increasing lifetime value and/or helping cross-sell.
The last quarter in the year is typically a suboptimal time to generate commercial loans. Most bankers have met their annual goals factoring the existing pipeline of credits. Furthermore, banks that have not met their goals for the year are likely to price and structure more aggressively, thereby depressing profitable opportunities for more disciplined lenders.
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.