Floyd Forum: Model for Successful Banking Begins with Integrity -- Editor

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William Streeter, longtime editor of the ABA Banking Journal, says that among the timeless themes for surviving and prospering in the banking industry are integrity, exceptional service, personal touch, value and developing a corporate culture that instills ethical dealings. He urged bankers attending the Floyd Forum in Austin, TX, this past week to "find a niche," work hard to hire, train and keep good people, and to concentrate on the 15% of your core products that produce 80% of the revenue.

“There are many roads to success in banking…but no formula,” the longtime editor of the ABA Banking Journal told executives attending the 2005 Floyd Forum Leadership Conference at the Barton Creek Resort in Austin last week (May 5).

William W. Streeter, a business journalist for 32 years, 27 of them at the Journal, spoke on “The Art of Competing.” “The term ‘art’ may seem out of place…in an age of rules for almost everything,” he said.

Streeter, who has observed momentous changes in banking, from the introduction of ATMs to the Penn Square debacle; from the rollout of full interstate banking to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, was quick to apologize for any perceived moralizing. (Speakers Photo: http://www.jmfa.com/Forum/2005%20Floyd%20Forum%20Leadership%20Conference.asp)

“Those of you running banks are in the trenches every day fighting the war. I am just the war correspondent,” he said. But in his decades on the frontline writing about the radical changes and interviewing industry leaders, he said he clearly recognized some “timeless themes” for surviving and prospering.

He cited integrity, exceptional service, personal touch and value as critical factors in an era of fierce competition from nonbanks, industry deregulation and the commoditization of bank services. He cited the importance of developing a corporate culture that instilled ethical dealings.

“The model for success in business is very simple: Integrity,” Streeter emphasized. “If you have integrity, all the rest will follow. This is not always easy to adhere to. It means that sometimes you have to admit you were wrong and take a loss, corporately or even personally. It means you don’t intentionally mislead anyone. You follow through on what you said you would do, even if it is no longer to your advantage.”

Under Streeter’s editorial leadership, the monthly magazine has become the leading periodical in terms of ad pages and independent readership studies. It has received five editorial awards from the American Society of Business Press Editors. He also is a vice-president of Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corp., which has published the ABA Banking Journal for three decades.

The editor urged bankers to pay attention to relationships because “people can get money from many sources, often at lower rates or better terms than you can offer. They get it from you because they like you, respect you, feel comfortable dealing with you, etc. Integrity has to be there, or that ‘relationship’ will be an empty promise.”

Streeter said that “business fads come and go,” but banks that “stay abreast of changes, continue to execute their game plan…find, keep and hold good people…and find a niche…are going to do well. You can’t be all things to all people,” he warned, “and you also can’t be waiting around for the customer to call you.”

Citing example after example of what was working at large banks and community banks, he said one enduring secret to success is exceptional service, “because people are willing to pay for exceptional service. Combine that with expense control and you have high performance.”

He said one leading banker told him that “most banks offer more than 100 products, but only 15 of those deliver more than 80 percent of their profits.” The banker’s advice was to cut back the number of products so that employees could become specialists as opposed to not being good at selling any one thing very often.

John M. Floyd & Associates (JMFA) of Baytown (Houston), Texas, sponsored the week-long Floyd Forum (http://www.jmfa.com/forum/), which concludes today, at the Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin. The 33-year-old profitability improvement firm, which has consulted to more than 2,000 financial institutions, is nationally known for originating and implementing automated overdraft privilege programs.

In other sessions, the bankers in attendance also learned about competitive comparisons, account growth strategies, unlocking non-interest income potential, improving accountholder satisfaction and retention and best practices for meeting compliance and accountholder expectations.

For More Information or Interviews:

Steve Swanston, EVP-Sales, John M. Floyd & Associates, Baytown, TX, 800-809-2307; Steve.Swanston@JMFA.com; http://www.JMFA.com

Preston F. Kirk, APR, Kirk Public Relations, Austin, TX, 830-693-4447; kirk@281.com

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Preston F. Kirk, APR
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