5 ways to turn your bank strategy into action

John Epperson, Thomas W. Grottke
| 8/26/2022
5 ways to turn your bank strategy into action

In today’s highly competitive and fast-changing landscape, banks that attempt to do business the same way they always have face increasing challenges. But forward-thinking bank executives that develop new strategies and business models can more successfully drive sustainable growth and profitability.

Devising a banking strategy is only the beginning of a banking transformation journey. When shifting the enterprise, one question looms large: How can banks successfully translate strategy into action?

Graduate detailed plans to systemic actions

Graduate detailed plans to systemic actions - 5 key practices

Bringing well-laid plans to life isn’t a given. Even the strongest planning can falter when implementation falls short. But five key management practices can help create a structured process that supports ongoing, thoughtful execution.

1. Set a faster reporting cadence to help keep things on track

Set a faster reporting cadence to help keep things on track - Frequent reporting
“Bank strategy execution should unfold as a structured, ongoing process characterized by frequent reviews.”

Long, rigid road maps with infrequent check-ins make it hard to spot and address problems. Bank strategy execution should unfold as a structured, ongoing process characterized by frequent reviews. When banks shift check-in intervals to weeks rather than months, they can quickly identify important shifts such as internal challenges, customer demands, regulatory pressures, and advancements in technology.

A faster cadence can offer more opportunities to effectively:

  • Check performance and continually refine the plan
  • Evaluate culture and ensure employees have the freedom to innovate within the boundaries of the bank strategy and policy
  • Assess the availability of needed resources such as employee capacity, team skill sets, and project funds
  • Gather up-to-date information that can inform critical executive decisions

2. Foster a culture that embraces change and critical thought

Foster a culture that embraces change and critical thought - Embrace change
“Teams, departments, and change leaders need to focus on different ways of doing business.”

When executing a large-scale strategic shift, everyone in the organization must recognize that it’s time to move outside daily applications of risks and challenges. A new bank strategy means unfamiliar territory for models, risk appetites, and business operations.

Teams, departments, and change leaders need to focus on different ways of doing business. New frameworks and tools can help the organization foster coordination and input, provide enough time and resources, and set appropriate guardrails and guidance so that instead of being frustrated by change, people can be motivated by it.

The champions of change are at the forefront of this culture shift. These employees aren’t held back by trepidation or the ruts of everyday business. They’re the ones who look for a new approach or an unconventional tool to get the job done, even if it flies in the face of old operations. Banks that identify these people and boost their voices often see roadblocks fall in the face of accelerating momentum and innovative thinking.

3. Keep a watchful eye on your resources

Keep a watchful eye on your resources - Staying focused
“Organizations might need to reorganize priorities when they encounter increased complexity, longer timelines, new risks, or unexpected scope.”

Ongoing management of capital, capacity, and progress is essential to timely success. Lack of adequate project communications, leadership check-ins, or funds can stifle even the most promising strategic initiatives.

To make sure employees are in the right role and have the capacity to do their best work, organizations might need to make changes such as:

  • Moving employees with knowledge of new systems to the departments or roles where they can contribute the most
  • Hiring expertise in an under-represented specialty
  • Reallocating responsibilities in increased areas of need to fulfill long-term strategy goals

Even with the right people in optimized roles, financial constraints or an established risk mitigation mentality can still stymie a banking transformation. Organizations might need to reorganize priorities when they encounter increased complexity, longer timelines, new risks, or unexpected scope.

Although trying to uncover new opportunities and revenue streams might seem more exciting, sometimes the most effective, expedient solution is to reallocate existing resources. Adjusting budgets or sunsetting operations can help shift resources to vital strategic priorities.

4. Your large-scale decisions must come from the executive level

Your large-scale decisions must come from the executive level - Executive decisions
“Bigger strategic shifts generally should originate from the top.”

Smaller, tactical decisions like adjusting models or trying new system plug-ins might fall in the wheelhouse of individual team members, but bigger strategic shifts generally should originate from the top. It’s unreasonable to ask a credit department to manage a complete overhaul of the organization’s portfolio management approach or to require an IT department to sunset old systems and resources with no executive-level guidance.

An executive’s bird’s eye view coupled with the most up-to-date data from check-ins can help steer departments and anticipate potential impacts.

5. Install project management leaders for thoughtful operational progress

Experienced leaders
“Successful project managers don’t just prod employees to meet deadlines.”

Even with the right culture, cadence, and resource management practices in place, the successful execution of new initiatives will rely on project management to provide structure, support, and accountability.

An experienced project manager at each level of the organization should oversee critical tasks such as:

  • Maintaining team accountability
  • Uncovering hold-ups and keeping progress on track
  • Nudging teams to function outside their comfort zones

Successful project managers don’t just prod employees to meet deadlines. Rather, they work closely with teams and drive intelligent change based on industry best practices. When project management specialists understand the responsibilities of each department and supply them with effective technology and tracking tools, teams can be empowered to pilot new processes and communicate areas where change is needed.

Set your organization up for success

From high-level bank strategy and business model design changes to hands-on project activity performance and project management, the right consultants can evaluate the different components of your business transformation with a critical, experienced eye.

A multidisciplinary team of specialists and a technology-enabled approach can help you translate your vision, spot obstacles, and avoid setbacks. And with decades of industry experience and insight on your side, you can be confident that your banking strategy execution process is leading your organization toward sustainable and profitable growth.

Strategy and action consulting for banks and financial services

Crowe can help turn your strategic vision into reality

We bring innovative technology and testable solutions to develop and refine your ongoing execution plan. Reach out to talk about successfully developing your approach.
John Epperson
John Epperson
Managing Principal, Financial Services
Thomas Grottke
Thomas W. Grottke
Managing Director, Financial Services Consulting