Banker To Banker
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.
Given that strategic planning season is upon us, one key affirmation is to verify if you are targeting not the customers that you have now but the customers that you want. Chances are, at least at some level, you are attracting the wrong customers that are not profitable, not engaged, not being a raving fan, causing some level of pain, or all four.
Many industry analysts are increasingly gloomy on the banking industry, trimming expectations for net interest margin, interest income, and total profits. With long-term interest rates declining within a whisker of the lowest level in history, many analysts are reducing their forecast of banking profits by up to 10% through 2020 or 2021. However, we would like to share a current proven strategy for community banks to make the best of the current interest rate environment, lock-in their best clients, increase cross-sell opportunities, and actually increase margins.
In Part I, we highlighted how having too much information about a decision often increases the confidence about the decision but usually doesn’t change the accuracy of the decision. In addition, gathering information takes time and effort, so the result is a more expensive and time-consuming decision that gives you a false sense of comfort. While most banks use the basic seven step process outlined below, in Part II, we highlight two additional rules for the decisioning box that can help increase decision effectiveness.
Community banks face intense competition from different institutions and various industries. There is currently a market phenomenon that is creating an unusually challenging environment for community banks that compete for real estate financing. This phenomenon is creating an advantage for some lenders in the amount of seven to 42bps, and community banks must be aware of this aberration if they want to win more quality borrowers.
We are not sure when the first signs of a credit shock will appear, but it is coming. When it does, it will be the presence of commercial loan covenants that give banks a competitive advantage of using covenant violations to pressure borrowers so that banks can improve their risk position.
Put a rat in a maze, and they will speed up as they get near the end as can smell the reward. Forget rats, human sprinters also run the last 15% of a race faster than the previous 30%. Forget athletes, citizens make more donations to a charity as that charity gets closer to its fundraising goal. Forget citizens, bank customers also complete more new account applications, hit savings goals, and complete conversions if they can view a goal that is close.
It sometimes pays to be opportunistic in marketing your community bank’s products. There is currently an exceptional market opportunity for community banks to win profitable business from larger competitors. The recent decrease in interest rates presents an opening for smart bankers to poach good quality clients and lock them in as customers for a decade. Our bank recently did just that, and in this article, we would like to share this strategy through a case study.
Interest Rates Dip