The cost of financial regulation…and now what?

By: Mike Horrocks

The Wall Street Journal just recently posted an article that mentioned the cost of the financial regulations for some of the largest banks.  Within the article it is staggering to see the cost of the financial crisis and also to see how so much of this could have been minimized by sound banking practices, adoption to technology, etc.  As a former commercial banker and as I talk with associates in the banking industry, I know that there are more causes to point at for the crisis then there are fingers…but that is not the purpose of my blog today.

My point is the same thing I ask my teenage boys when they get in trouble, “Now, what are you going to do to fix it?”

Here are a couple of ideas that I want to share with the banking industry.  Each bank and market you are going after is a bit unique; however think about these this week and what you could do.

  • It is about the customer – the channel is just how you touch that customer.  Every day you hear the branch office is dead and that mobile is the next wave.  And yes, if I was a betting man, I would clearly say mobile is the way to go. But if you don’t do it right, you will drive customers away just as fast (check out the stats from a Google mobile banking study).    At the end of the day, make sure you are where your customers want to be (and yes for some that could even be a branch).
  • Trust is king.  The Beatles may have said that “All You Need Is Love”, but in banking it is all about trust.  Will my transaction go thru? Will my account be safe? Will I be able to do all that I need to do on this mobile phone and still be safe since it also has Angry Birds on it?  If your customer cannot trust you to do what they feel are simple things, then they will walk.  You have to protect your customers, as they try to do business with you and others.
  • Regulations are here to stay.  It pains me to say it, but this is going to be a truth for a long while.  Banks need to make sure they check the box, stay safe, and then get on to doing what they do best – identify and manage risk.  No bank will win the war for shareholder attention because they internally can answer the regulators better than the competition.  When you are dealing with complicated issues like  CCARBasel II or III, or any other item, working with professionals can help you stay on track.

This last point represents a huge challenge for banks as the number of regulations imposed on financial institutions has grown significantly over the past five years. On top that the level of complexity behind each regulation is high, requiring in-depth knowledge to implement and comply. Lenders have to understand all the complexity of these regulations so they can find the balance to meet compliance obligations. At the same time they need to identify profitable business opportunities.

Make sure to read our Comply whitepaper to gain more insight on regulations affecting financial institutions and how you can prepare your business.  A little brainstorming and a single action toward each of these in the next 90 days will make a difference.  So now, what are you going to do to fix it?