Financial Institution Shifts Strategy to Find Success in Crowded MarketThey wanted new perspective and that was not going to come from banking experts.
They were regional community bank with ten branches in an area already crowded with other Regional, National and Community Banks. There were many Credit Unions encroaching the markets being played by the regional banks.
The CEO was a seasoned banker who had taken this bank from a small savings bank to a much larger entity and had taken them public just few years before we met them. Every bank in the region knew each other’s strategy, which was not unlike from their own strategy.
When we were invited to be interviewed for strategic planning facilitation, the CEO asked us an interesting question: What experience did we have facilitating for the Financial Sector, especially for smaller banks? Our answer? None. That was the clincher for us. They had met many banking experts who gave them the same advice that they would walk across the street and give to another bank. Nothing that the banking experts said or suggested was new or innovative.
They wanted new perspective and that was not going to come from banking experts. They wanted to evaluate their people, their processes and their productivity; they wanted to ensure that their technology would work seamlessly with what customers wanted. But when we started with them, all they knew was that they needed different perspective and to be challenged on their assumptions.
The first step was to decide group constitution for participation in this process. The group included all executives, a few key managers representing different departments and some front line employees who were connected with daily challenges faced both by customers and employees.
The second step was to structure the process. The process was split into many short two- to three-hour sessions spread over the course of three to four months. We collected data, did market research, conducted surveys, etc. The larger group was divided into smaller groups with specific assignments to collect, analyze and present information and make suggestions. Leadership evaluation of aptitude, attitude, behaviors, and 360 assessments became necessary as we moved through process. Did they have the right leaders for the future? Did they have depth and bench strength of employees who could step up to the plate as the senior managers reached retirement? Market analysis came back with surprising results about perceived marketable demographics vs. bankable demographics. Over a period of time the bank had acquired various technological platforms, which were probably right at that time, but the current assessment showed that many of those technologies did not speak to each other, making it difficult to make some business decisions.
In the end, when all this came together, they had a much different business plan than the one they had used year after year which simply consisted of how many branches to open and where, which commercial and how to keep lenders from stealing from your competition and marketing campaigns for mortgage generation. These aspects were still a part of the plan, but the plan was more comprehensive in addressing people, processes, technology and many other functional aspects of running a successful financial institute. It also included strategy for leadership transition and succession. This was a complete package.
This organization further engaged us for another eighteen months to help them with execution of the plan, to keep them on track and to create accountability. It was gratifying experience for all involved.