September 09, 2010

Building the Franchise: Dave Downing, COO, First National of Nebraska (Omaha)

This year, my focus has been much less tactical and much more strategic. In the past 12 to 24 months, we've done a lot to shore up controls and processes and put the right policies in place. The biggest challenge that the financial services industry is facing is the new consumer protection and reporting legislation. "Business as usual" isn't going to be business as usual anymore.

It has been said numerous times by numerous people: "This is the new reality." The big Wall Street firms are waking up to a very different world. Community banks and credit card companies are also confronted by a new reality, and our bank plays a role in all of those markets. We're now trying to figure out how to deliver exceptional service, offer great products and stay within the new regulations that have yet to be defined.

We've been working to understand the new financials, the new regulations and how to exceed our customers' expectations. Consumers have been informed by the media that they can expect different behaviors and deliverables from financial services institutions, but no one's sure what those different behaviors and deliverables look like yet.

Those of us working in the financial services industry have been practicing our entire careers for what's going on right now. The previous two years (2008 and 2009) were all about protecting the balance sheet. The next couple of years will be about protecting and building the franchise.