It’s Time for Banks & Credit Unions to Embrace Change

by. Jim Marous

As I travel across the country, visiting financial institutions in the midst of their annual planning cycle, it is like a trip down memory lane. While the technology and distribution channels have changed, banks and credit unions are still faced with the many of the same strategic challenges we talked about 20 years ago.

As a long time banker and friend, Michael Bencic said, “Improving the customer experience, embracing change, deriving value from data, building strategic partnerships, leveraging technology, ensuring privacy and security, cutting costs and generating fees is like deja vu all over again.”

I agree. While the details behind these goals have changed, why have the overarching themes stayed the same? Is it because the planning process usually begins with broad financial requirements and many involved in the process simple dust off last year’s plan and hit the restart button? Or is it because, despite a lot of talk around embracing change, the industry (and the regulators) frown upon the potential risk associated with innovation and doing things differently?

In a new report just published by KPMG entitled, Reshaping Banking in a Dynamic Business and Regulatory Climate, the author emphasizes the importance of getting out of ‘survival mode’ and embracing change, creating new strategies, crafting new infrastructures and focusing on the customer. While there is no denying the importance of each of these issues, this report is not much different than similar reports I read in the 1990’s. The primary difference is that the risk of ignoring these issues has far greater implications.

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