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Banks could change, but the regulator won’t allow it

I mentioned yesterday that a bank CEO asked me the three things I would do if I were him.  My response was: create the dream, live the dream, deliver the dream.  A bit cheesy, but you need to read the context if you want to know more about the background to this.

He responded by saying: but what if the regulator won’t allow it.

Oh no.  Not that old chestnut.

Regulations are far too often used as an excuse NOT to do something, rather than thinking about what to do.  If you come against a regulatory issue, rather than giving up my advice is: go see the regulator.   Regulators are human too and if you really believe in your vision, then so will they if it makes sense.  Of course, a regulator won’t sign off on a vision that says we’re going to tackle all our customer deposits and gamble them on mortgage-backed securities – they’ve learned that lesson! – but they will sign off on a vision that says this is why this will work.

It reminds me of the story shared by Michael Harte of Barclays but then at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).  He went to the Executive Team and said that he thought they should put all of their infrastructure into the Cloud.  The Executive Team told him to get lost and that the regulator would not allow it.  So Michael being Michael went to the regulator and shared the plan.  He explained how cloud would work for the bank, the cost savings it would achieve and the flexibility it would give the bank to respond to new and challenging customer needs for real-time mobile.

The regulator prodded, poked and queried the plan and, realising it was robust, stable and would work, signed off on it.  In other words, the Executive Team of most banks run afraid of regulators and use this as an excuse not to do things that make sense when, in reality, if they talked things through with the regulator, rather than assuming they would shoot things down, the regulator would see the sense in their thinking.

This is a key to digital change: don’t believe in false assumptions.

We often believe in false assumptions.  We assume the regulators would not allow such things.  We assume the banks’ management team would shoot our ideas down.  We assume we will not get the money to make these changes happen.  We assume we don’t have the skills to make it happen.  We assume too much or, as my old teacher used to say, if you assume it makes an ass out of u and me.

Don’t assume anything, but challenge everything.  Challenge the thinking.  Shoot down the false assumptions.  Get out there and change the world.  After all, if you don’t, who will? 

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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