Kill the Monster While It’s Still Small – Don’t Wait Until It Becomes Godzilla

by David McSwain

A consistently scheduled external loan review program will help to do exactly that. Problems do frank-3not magically appear overnight, they grow without being noticed because the problem gets played off as an isolated situation. Then the creep sets in as motion and momentum begin. Once this process reaches maturity, it is very difficult to overcome, especially if it has gone unnoticed for an extended period of time.

For example, a loan or group of loans tied to a particular industry start to experience cash flow problems.  Those problems manifest in past due loans and/or overdrafts.  We take swift action to correct the situation without really understanding the true nature and severity of the real problem. We are able to get the past due loan resolved or the overdraft covered without asking the key question: WHY?  The problem reoccurs and now it has our undivided attention. Unfortunately, we still have not recognized the underlying loan portfolio credit quality deterioration that has been growing and evolving. We should recognize that a single troubled credit does not constitute a systemic problem. However, the weakest loans should be a wakeup call that there may be problems larger and more complex than one or two loans that are experiencing difficulty.

Finally, we look up one day and we have several problem loans. Now our laundry is aired and loans with similar characteristics from an underwriting or industry perspective start causing pain.

A consistent and regimented program of external loan review is an important line of defense against the monsters that may be lurking within the bank’s lending function. Waiting for the eve of the next exam is like waiting until Godzilla is at the door before action is taken.

Three signs that you may have Godzilla in your bank are 1) rapid loan growth in any one call report bucket 2) creep in past due loan over the past few quarters 3) an increase in TDR loans.

For more information about Loan Review, ALLL Review, CRE Stress-Test or to schedule a consulting meeting for 2019, contact McSwain Consulting at 405-880-1039 or email david@mcswainconsulting.net. McSwain has battled a lot of Godzillas and knows how to deal with them.

 

 

Avoiding Frankenstein-ing Your Work

You are sitting in your office studying your bank’s third quarter financial statements and reports. frankWHAT the heck happened?  That empty feeling hits deep in the bottom of your stomach and indigestion sets in!  You are well below budget or vastly exceeded your budget. Past dues are higher over the past six months and your investment portfolio didn’t quite perform as well as you thought.  The loan renewals are coming in with tighter debt coverage ratios. It appears your customers’ margins are getting squeezed.  Dang, the bank’s margins are compressing due to rising rates in your deposits.

Now you need to start your budgeting process with your management team and it appears your team will need to budget down for 2019. You also have the responsibility to inform the board the bank isn’t going to make the budget.  WOW!  Maybe you feel the need to make some calls to your largest shareholders and let them know the bad news.  Dang, the annual shareholders meeting is going to be intense.  2019 sure is going to be a tough year because the Fed keeps raising rates.  The next exam is going to be tough!  The economy is very good, but my bank is experiencing things it shouldn’t be.  ALSO, this CECL thing!  WHY!

WRONG!  This is your story!  REALITY:  It’s the direct result of your systems + processes + disciplines.  It’s the outcome you were going to receive because actions and focus were not on your systems + process + discipline.  You reached a little here and a little there.  The creep set in, and because creep is slow, you didn’t recognize it.  Most likely you didn’t remember the OUTCOMES you were trying to achieve.  You didn’t ADAPT.

But now you get the opportunity to react. Reaction takes much more ENERGY, RESOURCES, CAPITAL, and STRESS.  MCSWAIN CONSULTING takes a deep dive into your systems + process + disciplines through our proven methods.  We will identify weaknesses so that you can be proactive.  We will get you the information to avoid major mistakes.

Three things you should benchmark:

1)Loan Growth Rate v Capital Growth Rate

2) Past Dues, TDR’s and Non-Performing Loans

3) Net Interest Margin

MCSWAIN CONSULTING can help.  We offer Loan Reviews, CRE-Stress Testing, System and Process Reviews, ALLL Reviews and General Consulting!  Our team of consultants has over 145 years of combined banking, consulting and business experience.  We have seen many different business cycles going back to the 1980s.  Contact us today to discuss a REALIGNMENT for 2019.

 

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You Should Read This: Bank 3.0 by Brett King

41AzJecTO+LAs I’ve written about here in my personal journey through banking from my childhood in the 70’s to present day, banking has done more than “change” or “evolve” – it’s practically morphed from a noun to a verb. As Brett King says in his book, Bank 3.0, banking is quickly becoming something we “do” not somewhere we go.
From online transactions to apps to stand-alone ATMs, the days of standing in line and getting a sucker or gum at the counter are becoming a thing of the past. My role as a banking consultant is to look for what’s ahead to help prepare banks for success, not just survival.
Find out more about Bank 3.0 here. 
From the Publisher:
In BANK 3.0, Brett King brings the story up to date with the latest trends redefining financial services and payments—from the global scramble for dominance of the mobile wallet and the expectations created by tablet computing to the operationalising of the cloud, the explosion of social media, and the rise of the de-banked consumer, who doesn’t need a bank at all.
BANK 3.0 shows that the gap between customers and financial services players is rapidly widening, leaving massive opportunities for new, non-bank competitors to totally disrupt the industry.
“On the Web and on Mobile, the customer isn’t king—he’s dictator. Highly impatient, skeptical, cynical. Brett King understands deeply what drives this new hard-nosed customer. Banking professionals would do well to heed his advice.”
Gerry McGovern, author of Killer Web Content
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David McSwain is an Oklahoma bank consultant and president of McSwain Consulting providing loan risk management solutions, loan reviews, and bank consulting services to community banks in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. 

Lessons from the Road: On Change and Mindset

In general, people are good.  In general, people have good intentions and speak from the heart.  embracing changeUntil criticism takes place.  In its true nature, being a consultant is being critical.  Someone pays you for a service that is provided to be critical. The criticism isn’t meant to be rude, undermining, or even “bad.”  It’s meant to be helpful.  It’s meant to make my client better.  However, recently I learned a valuable lesson. The lesson: not all people want to get better.  

Through my “Thinking Time”, I couldn’t bring myself to believe someone such as a high-level bank employee doesn’t want to improve if they can. I pondered this for days. Finally, I went through several levels of why, trying to make myself better.  I pondered that perhaps it was the way I was presenting the information. Perhaps it’s embarrassment.  Oddly, I mentally replayed several of the conversations that took place over a few weeks.  Why were some people receptive to the criticism and why were some almost indignant?

A few days later, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The story I told myself that it wasn’t the delivery because I have been in the clients’ seat for over 20 years and I take pride in not being hard in the delivery.  I know what it is like to be criticized.  I know that it’s embarrassing to be criticized in front of your boss, your peers, and your friends.  I followed the “Golden Rule”.  The A-ha — it’s change itself.  People don’t like change!

Change can be paralyzing for some and some thrive in change.  If there is anything in the world that is certain, CHANGE is guaranteed.  This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 2155 and the President signed it. This bill gives community banks some very needed regulatory relief. This is going to be a CHANGE.

Additionally, this morning, I received a transcript of Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg’s quarterly update on the banking industry via email.  Change is in the air!  To me, Chairman Gruenberg’s message was that we are in the latter stage of the business cycle.  Change may be coming.

Now is the time to prepare for “Winter”, so your bank’s business model is sustainable for any type of downturn when it happens.  Interest Rates have been changing!  Loan maturities have extended and the business cycle is going through its processes to reach equilibrium.  When the cycle reverts to equilibrium, more change takes place.

If you are a bank in Oklahoma, Texas, or Kansas and want to prepare for “Winter”, please call on McSwain Consulting. I not only help my clients navigate change for the better but to look way ahead for what’s coming, even when it’s not so pretty. Is this a case of evolve or die? Why not embrace change and go for it for our banks…and our communities to not only survive but thrive.

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David McSwain is an Oklahoma bank consultant and president of McSwain Consulting providing loan risk management solutions, bank loan review services, and bank consulting services to community banks in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. 

Why Banks Fear Change

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“There are two things people don’t like.  First is change and the second is the way things are.”

I know this can be applied to almost anything, but people will change only when they need to in order to survive.  In my opinion, banks are in survival mode.  You can’t find the experienced help for the right money and you are facing a work force of a generation you don’t understand and in some cases, the experience is non-existent.

Technology is disrupting anything and everything, and banking is one of them.  Let me pose several questions:

1) How many people walk into your lobby today versus three years ago to transact business?

2) How many of your customers use technology to transact business versus five or even ten years ago?

3)  What are you doing today to attract the next generation of customers?

4)  How many more competitors are you competing with for consumer and commercial loans that are not banks compared to five years ago?  Fifth and final question, what are you doing about it?

Technology is not going to go away.  If you are not embracing it, how are you delivering your services and transaction?  The same goes for running your business.  How are you embracing technology to cut costs because you don’t need the same number of employees in the office?  It’s not an absolute, but how many banks are seeing a decline in your efficiency ratio because you are over-staffed because technology has disrupted the entire industry in a period of heightened regulation and heightened expectation from regulators.

This is why McSwain Consulting is here to perform your credit analysis and internal or external loan review. It is an area regulated in loan risk management through several different regulatory requirements. We bridge the gap using technology to give you a complete risk management solution so that you spend your time building relationships with your customers.  Given your customers no longer come into the bank, you have to spend more time out of the bank.  McSwain Consulting allows the bank to be bankers and take care of their customers and building relationships for the next generation of customers.  We do the rest.

We are a bridge that facilitates the survival for your bank.