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Kick Your Shoes Off and Celebrate

Strategically Speaking
Jan 4, 2012

Dave Foss  Author: Dave Foss, President,

Celebrating the New Year should be a lot easier now than a year ago. There is still a lingering question about whether the economy will relapse, but the general tone of our industry is more at ease now than it has been in years. Finally, you deserve to take a deep breath and be hopeful as we enter into 2012.

The conversations I’ve had with bankers over the last several months share an overarching sense of relief because they have their houses in order. By now, all bankers should have a very clear view of their portfolios’ vulnerabilities and of the proper balances to keep it healthy. Because of this, lending can commence. Defaults are not nearly as ominous as they were going into 2011. Experts predict that commercial real estate investors will seek buying opportunities in 2012. Even credit cards are expected to increase new account openings due to a sharp drop in defaults.

Increased buying also evinces an air of confidence in the marketplace. Bankers are investing in their infrastructure, new tools and services. Such strategic purchases help financial institutions advance efficiency and service, major catalysts to growth. Three areas that I will watch eagerly in 2012 include:

1. Profitability solutions – they are more popular than ever since the financial health of all institutions has been tested by fire. Such solutions bring us back to the very basic principals of banking (scrutiny in lending, analyzing risk, knowing your customer, etc.), but they do so in a fast and convenient manner. They require less manpower while providing more detail and forecasting. Bankers are serious about banking smarter and, in response, we should see profitability solutions experience greater application and maturing in 2012.

2. Mobile – it will develop substantially in 2012: mobile banking, mobile websites, mobile payments – all of it! An over-abundance of applications are being developed and tested to meet the excitement, anticipation and demand of this fast-paced channel. Next year will sift out the long-lasting mobile verticals from the cool, but rather illogical ones. Technologies that were created with the consumer in mind should thrive.

3. The cloud – it has gained traction in 2011 and next year will be a time for answering questions about how applicable this platform truly is to banking. Of course, the concept of banking in the cloud is convenient and cost saving. But, should bankers trust their holy grail of consumer information to a database that is physically out of their control? An answer to this ongoing debate will hopefully be found in 2012, either making it a permanent fixture in banking or ending the buzzword’s moment of fame.

Yes – issues of uncertainty amid changing regulations, elections, and the European market still loom. Some of these issues may be forced to a close in 2012, while others are indefinite. Regardless of the constant change, take a day (at least) to celebrate and be thankful for how far we have come in such a short time. Looking into the New Year with expectations of growth, added efficiency and greater service is refreshing!

Also, please feel free to share any other trends that you will be watching in 2012 in the comments section.

Happy holidays!


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