In another life, Ric Flair would have made for a heck of a lender.
Yes, THAT Ric Flair. The legendary pro wrestler with the golden hair and the golden tongue.
He would have built a tremendous loan portfolio for the same reason wrestling aficionados (sheepishly raising my hand) think he’s the greatest professional wrestler of all time.
Flair doesn’t owe that reputation to an awesome physique – his 6-1, 240-pound frame is pedestrian by wrestling standards. Nor is it based on the 16 times he held the world championship belt. After all, that’s an arbitrary designation made ahead of time.
The Champion of Making Opponents Look Good
The reason Flair is so highly regarded by both fans and his peers is because he had an amazing ability to make his opponents look better in each match. Or, in industry parlance, he helped “put over” his opponent, making the crowd care more about them.
In other words, Flair was great at turning each of his matches into a memorable spectacle, something in which both he and his opponent “won.”
Often, particularly in the early part of his career, Flair was the big bad world champ coming into a regional wrestling production to wrestle the best that company had to offer. Flair’s job in each of those matches was to make the other guy look really good, to give the crowd the feeling – even though Flair left town with the title belt still around his waist – that their guy went toe to toe with the best in the world. Time and again he achieved that ideal result: His reputation as the champ was burnished, while the challenger’s rep as championship worthy was also made. And the fans became emotionally invested in the outcome and thus eager for what came next in the ongoing saga.
A Flair For Lending
The banking tie-in? Each deal you make with a borrower is sort of like a pro wrestling match. Not in the sense that you’re trying to slam the customer over the head with a steel chair, but rather that you’re trying to help find a way in which everybody wins.
The lender plays the Ric Flair role. They close deals, to be sure, but they do it in a way that enables the customer to “look good” when they bring their deal back to their company. The lender walks away with a result that meets his or her bank’s targets, while the customer walks away with a result that makes him or her happy and sows the seeds for a trusting, lasting relationship with the bank.
Trying to turn the deal into a one-sided beatdown might help you squeeze a few extra basis points out of it, but you’re also giving the customer an experience they’ll have little interest in repeating in the future. Rolling over and letting the borrower pin the bank’s shoulders to the mat with a rate that won’t meet ROE targets isn’t a viable option either.
Flair produced memorable matches with a wide range of opponents by always finding a way to mesh with their many different styles. In order to keep a crowd involved for 60 minutes night after night, he had to have a lot of options when it came to moves and tactics. And he had to know how to mask an opponent’s weaknesses, while playing to their strengths.
In lender terms, Flair would never have been a slave to just the rate. He would have based his deals on the information borrowers brought to the table. Flair the lender would have worked with customers to find their pain points, and – instead of exploiting them – would have found a way to fix them.
Find a few lenders with Flair’s approach to deals and you’ll find that soon they’re regularly helping “put the bank over” its ROE targets and profit goals.
Feature image credit: By chalk42002 (Cropped from RicFlair) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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