Book of the Month: Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen

51jcryTcsoLSteve Sims, the man who created Bluefish, the internationally famous company that makes once in a lifetime events happen for the rich and famous, reveals to the rest of us his trade secrets for making things happen.

The core of his philosophy focuses on simple, yet effective ways to sharpen the mind and gain practical skills that can help you learn a new perspective and accomplish anything. Whether it’s climbing Mount Everest, launching a business, or applying for a dream job, you can make incredible things happen for yourself by applying his insightful advice such as:

-Ask Why Three Times

-Never be the First Call

-Don’t be Easy to Understand, be Impossible to Misunderstand

Asking why three times: “The first why is what they think they think, the second why is what they think you want to hear, the third why is what they feel.”  The third why is the most important part of connecting to the real want or need.  We are in such an instant society that most people you are doing business with aren’t really connecting. You know what I am talking about. When you do business with people that are just performing their jobs for a paycheck, but you really know when they “Give a Damn”.  The three why’s give you a chance to sift through the “vampires” that will suck all your time and energy.Sims is adamant about creating your community which he refers to as your brand.  Then protect your brand through personal relationships that are getting lost today because it’s easy to hide behind technology.  I discovered Bluefishing is taking a business to a whole new level through experiences.

At McSwain Consulting, we’ve had the experiences – all the nitty gritty and huge roller coaster rides through risk assessment and management – so that you don’t have to.  We do our very best to keep you from having to go through them – to keep an eye out for what’s ahead and the storms that could be headed your way.

If you’re an entrepreneur or leader in your organization, I highly recommend Bluefishing to see how you could make more happen in your life and what could be getting in the way. Find out more about the book here or wherever books are sold.

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

Saving the Sinking Bank

by David McSwain

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Rural populations continue to decline, so what does that do to a local bank? How does a community bank survive when its bread and butter – the people and the businesses owned by the townspeople, are moving away or dying out? The pool of customers gets thinner each year. What’s feeding the local economy?

Technology — and especially mobile tech — is increasing at an increasing rate. It’s the “me, me, me/now, now, now” age. People want their money zipped through their phone not only to retailers but to each other. The time that customers could only choose from the local banks to do business is long gone, making the choices open for them, and the competition tighter for the banks. Cash apps and mobile-friendly banking seem to be the norm rather than an outlier these days and growing…

Customers continue to highly rely on credit to get by, maxing out credit cards not only around the holidays, but getting one too many credit cards without the ability to pay them all off. Credit scores plummet. When it comes time to get the loan, yeah, thanks, no, thanks. It becomes a bigger risk for the bank. Johnny’s burger fry shack can’t get the loan because he financed the boat, the house, and Jim and Jill’s college education.

Times are tough on banks, yes. So, what is a sinking bank to do? Can they not only survive but thrive?

Saving Tactic 1: Be innovative. 

Change is tough, and most people only feel comfortable doing what they’ve done in the past. Yet with changing dynamics in how and where people are doing business, banks must also change. Being innovative can mean reaching out to new markets, including other towns and even types of industries, and even becoming an online bank. Banks that never had to market or advertise in the past must now decide who they really are, how to position themselves to stand out, who they want to attract and then go after that business aggressively. No more just opening the doors and hoping people will walk in, or even drive though! This means employing people who are not simply paper pushers, but who are good people-people and salespeople. People who understand banking is a business that needs to attract business, not a commodity. Diversify. Own a niche for lending. Go for what the other guys aren’t. Become an expert in one area. What’s your specialty? I know of banks who have niches as an airplane lender, one that focuses on SBA loans and another that specializes in loans for vets across the country.

Unfortunately, a lot of community banks are behind on this front, but it’s not too late.

Saving Tactic 2: Exit Strategy

Can’t go it alone? Nothing wrong with that. Maybe it’s time to talk merger or being acquired, or your bank buying another! Join up with others who are doing what you’d like to be doing. There is great power in numbers, especially if it’s the right fit. Explore it. When I drive through a small town, I know if a community has a good bank because it’s thriving. That’s right. Just the opposite of what you might think. The town is not deteriorating. Streets are clean. The school looks good. In most cases, if you support your community, it will support you. Back in the ‘80s in Oklahoma, Gene Rainbolt bought many banks at a discount and made Banc First into one of the largest and most successful state banks in Oklahoma.

Whether it’s innovation, a fresh workforce, a new market or a merger or acquisition, the time is now for banks to look at not only surviving but thriving.

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

 

The Ghost of Banking’s Future

… How Tech Killed The Community Bank  – “Not Predicting, Just Sayin’”

by David McSwain, McSwain ConsultingIMG_3993

We all know the story of Scrooge. How the miserly old man was shown three ghosts during one night: the ghost of Christmas Past, the ghost of Christmas Present, and the ghost of Christmas Future. The moral of the story was that dear old Scrooge needed to change his ways to avoid a tragic future. The same could be said for the future of banking, particularly community banks.

A quick look at the past, which I was a part of since I was a teen working at a community bank in a small town in the ‘80s, is almost watching in slow motion because compared to today, that’s how slow-paced banking was back then. Accounts were under someone’s name, not a bank account. Account statements and canceled checks were hand-delivered. If you were born before 1985, you likely remember going to the bank with one or both of your parents. Lobby traffic was busy back then. You’d look forward to that free sucker or piece of gum for waiting patiently with your mom or dad during the transaction.

Then with technology – particularly computers and the Internet, the speed picked up. Drive-throughs weren’t just a big deal for fast food anymore; banking saw their drive-thru traffic increase in the ‘90s, which not only affects face-to-face communication and customer service, but the need for such a big bank to begin with.

Banks got smaller and kiosks popped up. “Go where the people are” was the philosophy so stand-alone drive-thru for ATMs and deposits became a big deal in the ‘90s along with kiosks in grocery stores. When I had a bank in ’94, we had $37M and 37 employees in one office. Fast forward to 2012 and we had 21 employees, 3 offices in 3 locations, 15 minutes apart from each other but $80M in the bank with 1/3 fewer employees. Do the math. Fewer people. Less square footage. More money. The kiosk idea came and went in the span of twenty years. Physical is out. Digital is in.

Then, dun, dun, dun: e-checks. Mobile phones and apps continued to grow into the 2000s and here we sit in 2017 with the ability to do all our banking right from our desktop or mobile device. Log in and password? Check. Mobile app for the bank? Check. Ah, but wait. If you no longer have a relationship with your local banker or go in to get that free sucker – if they are just a faceless click on the screen – why not shop around for loans? Why not invest in the hottest new app that all yur friends are using? You can even – gulp! – get approved with just a few clicks with NO IDEA where or who is handling your loan. And, you know what? Most folks don’t care. Especially not the Millennials. They want the latest, greatest, easiest, and they want it now.

Whew. And that’s just the ghost of the Present! What of the ghost of the future?

Where banking is going can either be exciting or downright scary, depending on how prepared we (as community banks) are to deal with the changes.

If digital is in, what does that mean for the community bank? Embracing tech sounds like a pretty smart strategy. Let’s take financialtown.com software company, for example, It’s a video app where one can push documents out to the customer while on a video conference. Convenient? Absolutely. That’s where banking is going.

Will human interaction go away? Maybe not for a couple more decades, but it will certainly evolve. But what this does or the community bank who already has loans with the good ones and has run off the bad ones – now you have, dun, dun, dun: the world! That’s right. With the Internet and apps and a niche, a community bank can survive and thrive. Sure, federal regulators must be up to speed and get the regulation going that allows companies like FinTech to lead innovations for bankers, but that’s the direction our society – and banking – is going. The trends are happening so fast something may have changed by the time I finish this think piece. But you see the new baby pictures your friends put up on Facebook? That baby may never step into a bank when he or she’s of age. It could be right there, on
phone, which might even his be smaller than the iWatch his mother is wearing. He or she might just have to blink three times to get a loan secured through the phone in the chip in his head.

I only wish I were kidding.

 David McSwain is an Oklahoma bank consultant and president of McSwain Consulting providing loan risk management solutions 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.