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  • Culture: the #1 Predictor of Future Growth and Profitability

    Roxanne Emmerich, Culture: the #1 Predictor of Future Growth and Profitability

    Most bankers think that internal culture means friendly tellers, free coffee in the lobby and someone to greet customers as they come in the door. No, no, no!

    Have you ever found one bank that was able to get 100 to 150 basis points more in net interest margin with that insipid belief system? Of course not. Because that's not what culture is. 

    Culture asks, "Will your people leap over tall buildings in a single bound to make sure your client is successful in their business or personal financial goals?" "Will you go beyond bank 'product' to create Unique Selling Propositions that rock their world and cause hundreds of thousands of dollars of impact for them? And will your people have fun doing it so that your system is sustainable? 

    Culture is a system—and if you don't think this way, you will never have a good culture.

     In fact, "system" is everything—from the selection of your employees...to the rewarding of your people...to the celebration of critical drivers...the one-page strategic plan creating focus, the tying of the critical drivers into the key strategies...and even how you deal with dissidence (including teaching your team how to have healthy dissidence and inviting them off the bus when they don't). 

    Culture means everybody's pulling in the same direction and having fun doing it—knowing that their good efforts are not going to be negated by someone else who's doing it halfway. 

    Culture is not about putting on your clown nose and jumping onto the happy bus. It's all about fun, yes—but fun tied to critical drivers that are the precursors to the numbers that bank need to grow the capital Basel III will require while lowering risk. When a bank CEO goes to a front-line person and says, "Hey, let's go get a Return on Assets of 2.0 this year," the front-line person is confused. If she says "One of your five critical drivers is to get at least five cross sales on every account that comes in here,"—now we're communicating in a way that makes sense AND allows for that ROA to happen. That's a start to a culture that can move mountains. 

    In most banks (perhaps yours), people on the team rarely make that connection. 

    So the key is to drive home those critical drivers—but we don't start measuring a thing until we've already won their hearts over. 

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