Core Systems

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Art Gillis
Art Gillis
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Dear Bank CEO, Where Are You Taking the Bank? Your Core System Wants to Know

The beauty of a two-page strategic plan.

It would be nice if Chase would buy a chair for the last man standing, since he plans to stay, and promises not to do anything dumb. That kind of straight talk from Jamie Dimon is a breath of fresh air among the top four Too-Big-With-Flaws-Du-Jour.

For decades, much has been written about the need for strategic planning, including even the tiniest banks -- too much, in my opinion. But just the sound of a strategic plan has threatened many pedestrian CEOs, and the result was we'll do it manana.

The best strategic plan, in my opinion, is one that everyone understands, and they can read it in about thirty minutes. The one I use for my clients is on two pieces of paper. It would never pass at the Harvard Business School, but it cuts to the chase (and I wasn't thinking of the bank).

My clients love it. The fireworks that occur after the management team reads it is what makes it so valuable. "Who said we want to be in the mortgage business?" And when the Chairman is out of sync with everyone else, then we know there's legitimate work to be done.

Identifying the direction of the bank begins with a team of nine execs -- Chairman, CEO, COO, CFO, CLO, Head of Bank Operations, CMO, CRO and CIO. Additional members are added at the discretion of the CEO. Sometimes an individual will appear who has none of the titles mentioned. The process begins with a list. The instructions are simple. Place a value on each of the following items as they relate to the future direction of your bank. There are 68 items on the list I use, and I consider that a macro list. Details emerge during the project, but at the outset this establishes a direction, which is a lot better than going around in circles.

At the end of the project, there's always a welcomed critic who asks the key question. "Why did you recommend Vendor XYZ?" The answer is, "Two reasons. That system was in the final list of "best" offerings all things considered, and that system came closest to satisfying your two-page strategic plan."

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