Creating Options

Earlier this week, I welcomed officers and directors from across the United States to Nashville, TN. From a stage (and not a Zoom), I asked them:

What are your options as we head into the Fall? No, not your personal ability to buy or sell an asset or security.  Rather, the options you, as a leaders of your bank, see for the institution you are a part of today?

Strategically speaking, this is a fundamental issue for those in a leadership position to address.

Sure, there are topics that will dominate boardroom discussions — such as diversifying earnings streams and differentiating the bank’s reputation relative to others.

But let me ask you: who are your competitors? By extension, who are the peer groups that you should be basing your performance against?  Once answering these, what options do you know are available, right now, that can put space between your bank and their business?  Further, what options do you need to create in order to stay both relevant, and competitive in the months ahead?

Creating “optionality” is a concept that continues to rattle around in my mind. Indeed, it ties into the concept of franchise value and is one that members of a bank’s board need to prioritize. It opens conversations around delivery methods and channels, business relationships and partnerships — and yes, growth opportunities (be it organic or through acquisition).

As we talked about in Nashville, banks are under enormous pressure to prepare for an unknown future. Ahead of this year’s exclusive in-person event, I came up with three basic questions I find timely and relevant. Take a read and let me know if you agree.

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