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.

 

The Road Less Stupid as it Relates to Loans, Loan Review, Annual Reviews and Credit Analysis

51zPw8uoRqL._SX260_“Smart people do dumb things.”

Here’s the proof: How much money would you have right now if I gave you the ability to unwind any three financial decisions you have ever made? Years ago, after suffering a humiliatingly large dumb tax, it dawned on me that I have a seemingly unlimited ability to hit unforced errors and sabotage my business and financial success. I suspect you do, too. It turns out that the key to getting rich (and staying that way) is to avoid doing stupid things. I don’t need to do more smart things. I just need to make fewer dumb mistakes. The vast majority of our dumb tax is a direct result of emotional, overly optimistic, and poorly thought-out decisions. Every one of those three decisions you would love to unwind was an avoidable mistake.

Thinking is critical to sustainable success in business; said another way, business is an intellectual sport. The principles and structure suggested in The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham will enable anyone, (regardless of the size of the business, the currency, or the industry) to run their business more effectively, make more money, and dramatically increase the likelihood of keeping that money. It all hinges on Thinking Time. This is a business book for business readers who want to learn the principles and strategies of making great decisions and minimizing risk. The structure of Thinking Time will enable you to minimize reacting emotionally and defaulting to the most obvious “best idea” available in the moment. The series of short chapters and subsequent Thinking Time questions are designed to maximize clarity and create better choices… either of which will result in fewer stupid mistakes. This is the real “secret”: The chance of success goes up when you think, plan, consistently execute the right things and worry about the possibility of loss. Here it is on a bumper sticker: Operators react and sweat. Owners think and plan.”

Many chapters can also help those in bank management as it relates to loans, loan reviews, annual reviews and the initial credit analysis.  In one bumper sticker (which is Mr. Cunningham’s way of pointing out an obvious point), he says “Emotions and intellect work inversely. When emotions go up, intellect goes down.  Optimism is a deadly emotion in the business world.”  This is particularly true when there is a new request on the table and it’s a large transaction.  Everyone is excited about the opportunity to the newest and greatest customer.  Look at us grow!  We do the normal analysis and possibly stress-test the individual credit, but we forget look at the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order consequences.  In loans, this could be the complexity of the loan, global analysis, and determining if we have the proper information and expertise to one, make a great loan decision; two, are we capable of servicing the complexities after the loan is made and is the borrower truly willing to open up their financial life so that we can get a true financial picture? In the ongoing servicing aspect, are we in a hurry to get the annual review completed and forget or don’t get all the information for the global analysis and therefore skip the 2nd, 3rd or 4th order consequences that ultimately could place last year’s biggest and best customer on the classified loan list? Are we analyzing the collateral properly along with the cash flow in the annual review to make sure both aren’t deteriorating?  It is prudent to take some advice from Mr. Cunningham on his 5 core disciplines of thinking time and all 5 must be present.

One of my favorite chapters in this book is Chapter 44, “Cause and Effect”. In this chapter, he distinguished the difference between cause and effect. Again, in analysis and annual reviews, we look at the effect and not the cause. He describes the cause as the problem or issue and should be measured with critical drivers. He describes critical drivers as an early warning system that illuminates where the loan might be veering slightly off course and gives you enough information, so you can do something about it before the situation becomes a problem. This is different than a K.P.I., key point indicators.  In loans, a K.P.I. may be a debt-to-income ratio.  It is an effect of the most recent financial information which is already stale and historical.  A critical driver may be the average collected balance in the operating account as it relates to a month-over-month trend. You may ask yourself, what if the operating account isn’t at our bank?  Well, that may be a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th order consequence we didn’t think about in the beginning.

The first four chapters of The Road Less Stupid set up the discipline, which is really thinking about things and giving an order and disciplines to achieve. The next 44 chapters are short and can easily be read in 10 or 15 minutes, and each chapter ends with Thinking Time questions.  Bankers are smart people and easily relate all these topics to banking.  I highly recommend this book and if you enjoy it, Cunningham has another book, The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business.” It’s about optics and measuring the correct optics and can easily be translated into your bank.

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. 

cropped-cropped-mcswain_mainstreet

Why I Do What I Do

Bankers.  I have been one since 1986 and it’s not all pretty. I believe in telling the truth and getting real so here we go. I have worked in most positions in a bank except for President.  Hell, I even owned a portion of a bank on two different occasions.  Although I didn’t have the title, I ran three banks for a period of two years.  I managed two banks for a period of four years and experienced things no one should experience in a bank. I had to take lending authority from family members, fire board of directors, lose friendships, and everything in between.  My expertise is instilling a disciplined credit culture that is efficient, very profitable and excruciatingly effective.  Only if you have the discipline to follow.

Here’s the thing: bankers are notorious for taking the most inexperienced person and shoving them into a position. This person unfairly gets the opportunity to check off a box from a strategic plan or from being written up from an examiner.  Bankers, really!  It’s a traditional practice from teller all the way to the top management.  We then think we have accomplished something because it didn’t materially affect the bottom line.

If you haven’t done it, you  probably know someone who has because it runs rampant.  It’s a mirror mentality.

Every time a new best practice comes out or a new regulation comes out, we hire Janie or Johnnie and put them in a position or we move Johnnie or Janie into a position they have never heard of much less have a clue of what the hell they are doing.  And neither do you!  But it makes us feel good!  We beat the system.  Nope.

That’s why I’m here. I hold up the  mirror.  We take a look at what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how to do it better. The truth hurts sometimes, but it leads us where we need to go.

Question:  How many of your credit analyst or loan review specialist can see a loan going bad two years out?  Answer:  Very few:  They don’t have the experience.  More precisely, they haven’t enough bad experiences to see it coming!   That’s why community banks hire McSwain Consulting.  You don’t pay us benefits, sick leave, vacation days, 401k.  We save you the x factor and generationally, our work ethic is beyond belief.

We have seen, done and walked in your shoes.  We have dealt with regulators in extreme situations, loan review companies and auditors.

Our mission:  We strive to develop the culture of discipline in loan risk management that is proven time and time again.  It is profitable, efficient and creates opportunity beyond belief.

Give us the opportunity to prove to you, but you have to follow our direction.  We will make your bank effective, efficient and more profitable.

If you are interested in taking your bank into the next generation, I’d love to get your call.

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.