Bankers: Are We Passing On The Tough Decisions?

“One of our problems is our long-term employees”, said a banker to me. I have heard this so often that it probably applies to a significant percentage of Jeff For Banks readers. In an era of unprecedented industry change, if your employees embrace change like a cat embraces water, you might have a Problem.

In my life, I have experience in two industries: banking and the US military. Well, I’ve also been in the newspaper business (paper boy), a top chef (Mickey Dee’s), gasoline distribution (Hess boy), and food service (college caf worker). But I wouldn’t exactly call a job designed to earn beer money or to bolster my eight track tape collection experiences worth reflecting on. Note the paper boy gig was not for beer money.

Connecting the Dots to Cut Costs

Banks today need to go beyond traditional cost-cutting methods with an integrated, cross-functional approach across end-to-end value chains.

Among the wonders of recent automated teller machine (ATM) technology is the ability to recycle deposited cash. But if your bank has recently installed such ATMs, have you also reviewed your cash forecasting models and altered your armored-car delivery schedule? After all, the point of recycling cash is that you can be more efficient about replenishing it. However, you gain that benefit only if you actually change your replenishment practices.
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4 Ways Financial Institutions Can Build a Brand-Driven Internal Culture

Here are four things marketing can do to help boost the internal culture at their financial Institution.

One of your top priorities in 2014 should be to build and maintain a brand-driven culture, much like Oregon-based Umpqua Bank has done. They’ve been recognized as #1 on the list of 100 best companies to work for and made Fortune magazine’s national list of 100 best employers the seventh year in a row. They were recently cited as the most admired financial services company in Oregon for the ninth consecutive year.
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How Financial Marketers Can Turn Leadership Obstacles Into Opportunities

Three strategies financial marketing executives can use to flip today’s leadership challenges into competitive Advantages.

Face it, these are tough times. You are hard pressed today to walk into any financial services organization, stop by any board room, or department meeting without hearing an executive or leader discussing how challenging it is to be successful in financial services today.

The role of leadership has changed and expanded, in addition to keeping staff motivated and trained, clients happy and our organizations competitive; we have to deal with a shifting economy and the uncertainty that creates with financial markets, competitors, business investment and our ability to plan for growth.
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Banks Need Leaders Who Get It (Done)

Ed O’Leary penned an interesting piece, published on the ABA Banking Journal site, titled Banks Need Leaders Who “Get It”. It deserves a full read, but the gist of the post is this:

“For at least the remainder of the current decade, bank managers will have to develop survival strategies to steer their banks through the changes that are inevitably headed their way. We operate in an industry of scale. Small banks will require specific niches—geographic or product in nature—to compete with the banking giants that are already very experienced in practicing a Pac Man strategy to growth. Where are mid-sized community banks going to find the talent necessary to successfully drive through the thicket and emerge with the right combination of size, product offering and skill sets of its staff?”

My take: Banks don’t just need leaders who “get it.” They need leaders who can “get it done.”
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Some simple truths about project success

Several recent surveys show that the number of larger projects which are truly successful is well under fifty per cent. Some are outright failures; others fail to fulfil business objectives in some way or other. The larger a project is, the more likely it is to fail – and this is across all sectors. Almost half of all projects end up over budget and about three quarters show a lack of alignment between the business and the project. This happens despite major efforts to enforce project standards, to use iterative methods, and to assure strict quality thresholds. Could it be that there are other factors in Play?
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Bankers: Are We Accountable?

Twenty years ago there were 14,000 FDIC-insured financial institutions. Today that number is cut in half. The reasons are many. And yes, some are beyond our control such as population mobility, technology, and the need for some scale to invest enough to remain relevant. But, as my one-time Division Officer, Lieutenant Proper, once told me: “Be careful pointing your finger, because the other three are pointing at you.”

I recently made a presentation to staffers and advisers to the Pacific Coast Banking School (PCBS) regarding what I would change in the curriculum. My theme was that if we keep teaching bankers the same things, and expect different results (i.e. not cutting our industry by half), then we are insane. I don’t think I’ll be invited back.