Bank leadership should maintain an entrepreneurial mindset

Every startup begins with a vision. It’s a product, a mission, or a unique value proposition that spurs action, turning idle ruminations into a business plan. Banking is complex, requiring a unique combination of industry knowledge, business acumen, and identifying a target market to compete — whether it’s a de novo institution or expanding with a new online or bricks-and-mortar branch.   [Continue]

Don’t skimp on cyber training; new threats are the norm

It can’t be said often enough: Nearly every horror story about a bank or its customers being the victim of a cyber attack starts with a misstep by the victim. These can range from carelessness to being duped by very sophisticated criminals. The IT world has considered human error the greatest obstacle to cybersecurity for a very long time. Those faxes from the Nigerian prince promising to make you rich are really no less sophisticated than your run-of-the mill phishing email today. [Continue]

It’s springtime for entrepreneurs; time to cultivate business

Inflation. Continued supply chain disruptions. War in Ukraine. Yet another Covid variant. There’s never a shortage of bad news, is there? But if you’re looking for something on which to pin some real hope, consider this economic silver lining: In the last two years, there’s been a significant jump in the number of new business applications. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2021, a record 5.4 million applications were filed to form new businesses. [Continue]

To ‘beta’ or not to ‘beta’? Good question!

If you haven’t already, at some point you’ll be faced with the question: Is your bank willing to be a beta site for a new technology product? It’s tempting. You get a “sneak peek” of a new product and the chance to offer feedback. But being a beta site can be disruptive depending on the level of involvement, frequency of feedback requested, and risks to your existing process. [Continue]

Where have all the de novos gone?

Between the year 2000 and 2008, the FDIC approved 1,042 new bank charters, leading those in the industry to dub that near-decade the “go go” years. Observers of the industry would just as soon forget what happened then. One consequence of the Great Recession is the rapid net decline in total banks, exacerbated by anemic de novo activity. [Continue]

Don’t cancel that check just yet

My dear mother, who is 92, took issue with a recent column by my esteemed colleague, Justin Dullum, in which he declared the death of the personal check. Of course, Justin is correct; the paper check is a much less common form of payment than it was years ago. But I think my mother is also correct: A lot of people still rely on checks.  [Continue]

Colorado bank commits resources to amplify diversity

Lakewood, Colo.-based FirstBank has, for decades, sought customers and recruited employees in order to build a business that reflected the diversity of its markets. In an effort to expand this vision, it created a Multicultural Banking Center, which opened in March 2020, just three weeks before pandemic-related shutdowns.  [Continue]

High commodity prices can create sticky situations

This spring the Ag Press has been filled with breathless articles about the future direction of commodity prices. “Wheat Hits 14-Year High!” and “How High Can Corn Prices Go?” are two of our favorites. The sad fact is that a war in Europe has historically led to record prices for U.S. commodities (see 1914 and 1939). [Continue]

Agenda Item No. 1: Good governance

Just as banks must adapt their strategic goals and operations to changes in local business conditions, the broader economy, and consumer preferences, governance must also evolve in order to effectively oversee management and protect the interests of shareholders. “Right now a lot of organizations are stepping back to look at their structure and asking: ‘How can we enhance or improve it?’” said Karen Grandstrand, head of the Bank and Finance Group for Fredrikson & Byron in Minneapolis, who counsels financial institutions on governance. [Continue]

Community banks can leverage data to stay competitive

Community and midmarket banks have typically maintained competitive advantages over large national banks with personalized service and strong community relationships. Yet, let’s face it. We live in a digital world where consumers demand online and mobile app options for commercial transactions — including banking — and a more personalized experience. [Continue]