All banks are the identical.
Basically, painfully the identical.
Should you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.
And naturally, there’s a good cause for that.
They developed and developed in related methods, survived related challenges, aligned to create markets underneath parallel circumstances.
They have been regulated in the identical methods.
Competed with one another. Emulated one another. Acquired one another.
Basically, banks are all the identical.
In the way in which they generate profits. In the way in which they capitalised on alternatives and leveraged expertise because it turned out there. In the way in which they standardised, collaborated, pursued effectivity and negotiated finest practices.
It stands to cause.
They do the identical factor in the identical atmosphere, observe the identical guidelines and largely fish in the identical expertise ponds. So . They’re the identical. Writ massive.
And that signifies that while you go from one financial institution to a different, as a banker or as a vendor, you recognise shapes. You recognise colors and hues and issues and narratives. It’s very tempting to go ‘ah sure, seen all of it earlier than’. However you shouldn’t.
As a result of you may even see a sample, however what you don’t recognise is the element past the sample.
And there’s a cause for that too: it’s as a result of all banks are the identical, sure, however in profoundly other ways.
The place did you develop up?
The first time somebody requested me that, at BNY Mellon (the one place I nonetheless seek advice from as ‘we’ 6 years and counting after leaving), I answered ‘Athens’, they usually laughed. Good-natured laughing, earlier than you get upset on my behalf. They didn’t snicker at me. The query was esoteric, they usually defined.
What they meant was the place did you be taught your craft. The place did you get to know what so we don’t assume the fallacious issues about one another.
It’s a great query.
And the colleagues I served with answered it in two methods: they’d say I grew up in operations, in IT, in gross sales. Or they’d say ‘I’m legacy Mellon, legacy BNY, legacy JPM’.
What do these two issues say?
They are saying: these have been the issues I discovered first and due to this fact the issues I do know most viscerally and they’re the issues that will inform my psychological place to begin for the way large an issue appears to me… or how necessary a repair seems to me… or the place I’ll in all probability assume we must always begin the repair, for that matter. All of the psychological fashions I take advantage of could also be colored by these issues I discovered first, issues you could not know a lot about.
The second identification declares the broader property individuals discovered their craft in. The programs, processes and administrative decisions. The insurance policies, guidelines and incentives. The tradition. The tech. The merchandise. The lot.
Banks grew by asset swap and acquisition.
We didn’t all develop up in the identical a part of the map and there are components we all know higher than others as a result of, you bought it, we grew up there. Be it the division, the geography or the enterprise we did our studying in.
Once I first heard individuals placing their credentials on the desk like that I used to be a bit of confused. Is it a pissing contest? Is it a divisive act, aligning us extra with our previous than our desired shared future?
Seems it was the other.
You realize what this factor did for us?
It allowed us to be vocal and upfront in regards to the variations in our vantage factors. It allowed us to be energetic find methods to navigate the extremely complicated mixed tech or human property of a post-acquisition hangover. It allowed us to employees groups with sufficient background – by division or legacy and often each – to make sure we minimised our blind spots. It allowed us to be good about our personal challenges so that they wouldn’t develop into dysfunctions.
It wasn’t a method by the way in which.
It was an natural factor individuals simply did.
And it labored.
And naturally individuals may get defensive and protecting of their very own manner or overly eager to safeguard one thing that was recognized to work for them and their purchasers and naturally we didn’t find yourself with a magical unicorn degree of perfection. As a result of people.
However it helped these very people navigate.
Why am I telling you all this?
As a result of in case you learn me, you might be both a banker making an attempt to resolve among the widespread issues our organisations have as we face into our digital future, or somebody making an attempt to assist this journey from the skin in, as an advisor, vendor or companion.
And regardless of the place you sit, that methods are devised on the aircraft of actuality the place all banks are the identical. All of them have legacy infrastructure and bloated hierarchies and paper-based options and workarounds and expertise gaps. They usually have enterprise fashions that also principally function in a pre-digital economic system. They usually need to transition into the longer term within the least disruptive manner attainable.
Slap their brand on the entrance of your PowerPoint and inform them these are the areas that should be addressed for a profitable digital transformation and you can be proper. For all of them.
After which you’re going to get the job and on day one they’ll ask you the place you grew up. What’s your reply?
We don’t dwell in generalities
There’s nothing fallacious along with your plan, earlier than you get upset with me.
And you’ll promote that plan in good religion to each financial institution on the planet: even among the digital ones. They don’t all have all the issues in your laundry record, however they’ve sufficient of them as they steadiness scale, operational effectivity and enterprise viability whereas sustaining capital adequacy and compliant providers throughout the board as to matter little or no. At that degree, banks are all the identical. And it helps, when drafting a plan, in case you’ve seen all of it earlier than.
However plans are executed within the specifics. Plans are executed the place banks are drastically, dramatically completely different. The place habits, bizarre decisions, completely different methods are layered upon one another like some tech model of the earth’s personal strata… the place all of the issues which can be very completely different by division, geography or organisation dwell. That’s the place you execute. That’s the place your work takes place.
Within the element of how issues are as we speak. As a result of the place you might be as we speak is the place your journey begins, no matter else you could want for.
And the place you might be as we speak is a multitude.
A long time – in some circumstances over a century – of layered insurance policies, legacies, decisions. Departments working in silo. Not precisely in opposition to one another. Not precisely collectively.
Everybody likes your technique. Everybody desires you to succeed.
However in case you go into that workplace pondering ‘all banks are the identical, how arduous can this be?’, I wouldn’t even hassle getting a espresso. You gained’t be there lengthy.
As a result of sure.
All banks are the identical, however in profoundly other ways. And that’s the place you remedy their issues and unlock their futures.
So be ready to ask your stakeholders the place they grew up. Discover the tales of how all of us received right here. To the precise ‘right here’ of this division and this financial institution. Not the generic right here of being on the cusp of disruption.
Discover the components of the panorama that aren’t represented within the room you sit in. Ask why. Regulate accordingly.
You don’t should be from round right here to navigate the way in which out. You simply have to respect the panorama and take note of what you see. Don’t assume you’ve seen all of it earlier than. As a result of I can guarantee you, you haven’t.
Leda Glyptis is FinTech Futures’ resident thought provocateur – she leads, writes on, lives and breathes transformation and digital disruption.
She’s a recovering banker, lapsed educational and long-term resident of the banking ecosystem. She is chief consumer officer at 10x Future Applied sciences.
All opinions are her personal. You’ll be able to’t have them – however you might be welcome to debate and remark!
Comply with Leda on Twitter @LedaGlyptis and LinkedIn.