Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A few servings of humble pie.

At times, we bank consultants can be a very self-confident lot. But the measure of a consultant, in my humble opinion, is a recognition of not what we know, but how much we don't know. We are, after all, a collection of our own experiences and those of our clients and prospective clients. Therefore, to ignore experiences of others because those experiences refute our previously held beliefs would render us less valuable in our chosen profession.

In that context, I would like to offer some of my pre-conceived beliefs, and how they were refuted by very smart bankers.

1. To my theory that bankers don’t have good relationships if customers will leave as a result of small price variations: You need the relationship to earn a seat at the table… Bill Sherman, Senior Lender, Carrollton Bank;

2. To my theory that banks over-invest in support functions and under-invest in branch personnel: I need to invest in quality support personnel and technologies to free up as much time as possible for my branch personnel… Tom Petro, President & CEO, Fox Chase Bank;

3. To my theory that lenders should collect their own bad loans to maintain discipline in loan underwriting: Is it a productive use of my lenders’ time to be securing municipal approvals to complete a development project or should they be out talking to customers?... Scott Gruber, head of Commercial Banking, National Penn Bank;

5. To my theory that Banks should use social media to expand their brand: Pioneers get arrows, settlers get land… John Alexander, President & CEO, Northfield Bank;

6. To my theory that not-for-profits are a fertile source for core deposits: Not-for-profits are unprofitable business for the bank because they require large charitable contributions to go along with their business... Bill Burt, President & CEO, Gateway Bank

These are merely a sampling of the humble pie I have eaten over the past twelve months. I'm confident there are more servings to come. I thank my colleagues for reminding me of all I do not know.

- Jeff

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