Back in the Saddle

A summer vacation sunset
A summer vacation sunset

It’s been a few weeks since I last shared what I’ve heard, learned or discussed on this site. Yes, vacation treated me well. But I’m excited to get back into the swing of things and especially pleased to welcome two new people to the Bank Director team: Katy Prejeant and Jake Massey. Both can be followed on Twitter @BankDirectorAE and @WJ_Massey. As always, what follows are three things that relate to bank executives and boards that caught my eye and/or ear this week.

(1) Drive a few hours west of our Nashville offices and you can find Memphis-based Mercer Capital. The advisory firm assists banks, thrifts and credit unions with “corporate valuation requirements and transactional services.” Each month, their Bank Watch newsletter pulls together a series of articles from around the web. From stress testing to Basel III, ESOPs to a Midwestern public bank peer report, there are some interesting reads this month. But one that caught my eye wasn’t in their report – it can be found on their main site. It’s a white paper on Creating the Potential for Shared Upside. Authored by Jeff Davis (a speaker at last year’s Acquire or Be Acquired conference), the piece reviews various financial issues arising when community banks merge or sell to a larger, public institution. With many anticipating an upswing in M&A deals in the second half of 2013, it is an interesting perspective to consider.

(2) In past posts, I have noted how the banking industry is a mature one. That is, where competing on price with the BofA’s of the world may best be seen as a fool’s errand. Nonetheless, McKinsey’s classic article on “Setting Value, Not Price” should be a must read this week. While not specific to the financial space, they lay out a reality where ”people buy products and services not on price alone but on customer value: the relationship between costs and benefits.” Although this trade-off has long been recognized as critical for marketing, this month’s “Insights & Publications” shows that businesses frequently get their price–benefit position wrong. They wrote in 1997 that “value” may be one of the most overused and misused terms in marketing and pricing. If you’re game, drop me a line below and let me know if you agree this is still the case.

(3) Spend any time talking with a bank’s CEO, and keeping pace with technology (and by extension, technology risk management) is sure to come up in a discussion that involves improving their business, brand and reputation. According to a new “FS Viewpoints” published by PwC, financial institutions have, for too long, “viewed technology risk management as a defensive tactic or regulatory compliance activity.” Based on the consultancy’s observations, “existing approaches to technology risk management often provide limited value to the business.” They see a real opportunity to leverage technology risk management to provide strategic business value. This piece shows how leading institutions are shifting their focus on risk management, moving from a fragmented and reactive compliance approach to a more balanced, business-aligned, risk-based strategy.
Aloha Friday!

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