January 2, 2021 / VOLUME NO. 138
The Gift of Change

Fad diets, self-care recommendations and admonishments to “turn the page.”

We all see what’s coming up in our news feeds. But before we give in to these New Year’s cliches, let’s take a minute to appreciate how so many in the industry were able to pivot in such unexpected ways in 2020. Knowing that one can successfully change should serve us well in 2021.

While resilience — and perseverance — took center stage this year, I find culture, technology and growth showed up in new ways as well.

During the darkest of economic times, we were amazed by examples of creativity, commitment and collaboration to roll out the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. When social issues exploded, we were proud to see industry leaders stand tall against racism, prejudice, discrimination and bigotry. With work-from-home pressures challenging the concepts of teamwork and camaraderie, we were delighted by how banks embraced new and novel ways to communicate.

Seeing industry leaders share their intelligence and experiences to help build others’ confidence stands out. So, too, does their rapid adoption of technology, which clearly accelerated the transformation of the financial sector. The rush to digital this spring forced bank leaders to assess their capabilities — and embrace new tools and strategies to “do something more.” As the financial sectors’ technology integration continues, this mindset of finding answers — rather than merely identifying barriers — should benefit quite a few.

Many banks considered JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup as their biggest competitors entering 2020. Now, I’d wager Square, Chime and PayPal Holding’s Venmo command as much attention. Competition typically brings out the best in executives; with mergers and acquisitions activity poised to resume and new fintech relationships taking root, growing one’s bank is still possible.

So, here’s to the optimists. Leaders are defined by their actions, and many deserve to take a well-earned bow for making their colleagues' and clients' lives better. While we leave a year marked by incredible unemployment, economic uncertainties and political scars, I’ve found a negative mindset never leads to a happy day. Rather than lament all that went sideways this year, I choose to commemorate the unexpected positives. As I do, I extend my best to you and yours on behalf of the entire Bank Director team.

With appreciation,

Al Dominick, CEO of Bank Director
The importance of scale in the banking industry’s digital transformation — which the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated — was a significant factor in three recent acquisitions.

“It doesn’t take a lot of direct savings on technology, simply by leveraging a broader customer base, to make a transaction of size really meaningful.” H. Rodgin Cohen, Sullivan & Cromwell

Jack Milligan, editor at large for Bank Director
James McAlpin Jr., a partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, shares recommended practices for bank boards, based on the 2020 Governance Best Practices Survey.
Community banks may not realize the demand that exists for international payments or foreign exchange, missing out on valuable fee income.
Jon Tomberlin of Dixon Hughes Goodman weighs in on the audit committee’s role during a pandemic.
Successful banks find a few key areas where they can outperform, and that’s where they focus their energy and resources.