Maria Abbe: Hi, and welcome to The Purposeful Banker podcast, the podcast brought to you by PrecisionLender, where we discuss the big topics on the minds of today’s best bankers. I’m your host, Maria Abbe, Content Manager at PrecisionLender. I’m joined today by Dallas Wells. He’s our EVP of Banking Strategies. Thank you all for joining us.
Today, we’re excited to talk about something new for PrecisionLender, which are our Purposeful Banker Awards. These awards, they’ll be given out at our BankOnPurpose conference in May, and we’re looking for nominations. So, Dallas, to kick us off here, do you mind giving us some background on the conference itself, and then maybe starting with where the concept came from and how that concept played out in the actual conference last April?
Dallas Wells: Yeah, sure. What we wanted to do with the BankOnPurpose conference is so many banking conferences are very internally focused on the bank, meaning that it’s all about risk management, and processes, and efficiencies. Those things are all important, but they’ve kind of been done and done to death. What we wanted to do was create a conference that was very much about the purpose of banking and how banks interact with their customers, how they can provide a better experience for their customers, how they can be a bigger part of their communities, and the day-to-day things that they need to do to make those things happen.
Last year was our first conference. We did it in Austin, Texas in April. We had a good turnout for our first one. We had some great speakers. We had Roy Spence. We had Lisa McCloud. We had a couple of bankers that told their story of transforming their … They talked specifically about their commercial lending process and changing that from that old, internally focused model to a newer, very customer-focused model and the differences that that had made in their bank. We are back to do our second one this year, again in Austin. It’ll be the first couple days of May this year. We’ll have, of course, links to all that stuff with this post. We are excited to come back and talk about the same high-level concepts with a new list of speakers and some new ideas there.
Maria Abbe: To clarify, for those who are listening, why did we have Roy Spence and Lisa McLeod join BankOnPurpose conference if they aren’t actually in the banking world?
Dallas Wells: Yeah, good question. Roy and Lisa, they both talk about the concept of purpose. In other words, doing something because it has a deeper meaning, starting with why. Basically, why are we doing this? Why are we here? Instead of just focusing on bottom-line results … Those are important for banks. Those have to be there for them to do all the other community-based and customer-based things that you want to do. Rather than only focusing on those things, focus on the deeper reasons of why is a bank there, and how is a bank important to the customers and their outcomes, and how can they be a pillar in the community? We talked a little bit, as we kicked off the conference, about the old George Bailey days of banking and how a lot of bankers want that to be the case, but they feel like they’re kind of drowning in all the regulatory stuff and a tough competitive market. They lose focus on why they’re there in the first place.
Roy and Lisa coming from outside the industry, I think, were able to give some great context to that, of where do banks fit in? Why is doing something with a purpose and starting with that why question so powerful, not just for the feel-good stuff but also for the bottom-line results? Roy talked a lot about Southwest Airlines and Walmart. He worked closely with the founders and management teams of both of those companies. How they culturally became so much different than the other companies in their industries. Both very competitive industries, just like banking, to kind of make the point that you can think differently about this and you can have different approach and have good business results because of it.
Maria Abbe: What do you think was the most valuable piece that those bankers that attended last year walked away with?
Dallas Wells: Well, we heard from several of the attendees, and I talked to a few of our clients that were there in the week or so following, and they were so excited about that concept of having a purpose. They went back to their bank and went to their management groups and said, “Why are we here? What are we really trying to do with this thing?” You get the usual kind of drivel that you’ll see in annual earnings reports of we’re here to maximize shareholder return. It sparked some good conversations about is that really what we’re after? Can’t we have that and some deeper meaning here? There was good stuff there.
Then, I think the way we structured the conference is we started with those very high-level concepts, which they’re exciting. They get people motivated. It was a good way to kind of change the thought process and get things kicked off. Then, we slowly worked our way down to be more granular, more tactical, through the day. We did that on each day of the conference, starting with a concept and then working our way down to actually day-to-day tactics that you could use. People felt like it wasn’t just a rah, rah, get excited thing, but they also had tangible things they could go back and try and put in place. They felt like there was a few things they could just be off and running with that deeper meaning underneath of trying to change the way that they view what they’re doing and the way their bank approaches what they’re doing.
Maria Abbe: Like I mentioned before, we’re excited to announce the Purposeful Banker Awards, but what exactly are they?
Dallas Wells: This is a new thing for us this year. What we wanted to do was recognize some of those bankers who have kind of lived out those concepts that Roy and Lisa and others talked about, being purposeful in their approach to the job and being successful because of some of those characteristics and some of those deep values. These will focus on kind of our neck of the world, which is commercial lending. These are awards primarily for commercial lenders, but we wanted to recognize those that go above and beyond. They don’t just fill out the job description and do the day-to-day tasks, but they’re kind of true stars in their industry. They make a big difference in the businesses and the lives of their customers, and they’re big players in their own communities, as well. Just wanted to find a way to recognize them and to do so at this conference where we’re talking about those kinds of things anyway.
Maria Abbe: Now, are there multiple awards, and if there are, do you mind explaining each of them?
Dallas Wells: There are. This year, we came up with six awards to give, so I’ll go through the list real quick.
Maria Abbe: Great.
Dallas Wells: Some of these will have some metrics based around them. We’ll come back to that and talk about that a little bit. Some of these are also, there’s some qualitative stuff there, too, of basically how someone behaves in addition to just the outcomes that they see. The first award is a Most Creative Award. This is for a relationship manager or a commercial lender who really showed the best ability to come up with creative solutions for their customers. Borrowers that bring in deals that are just kind of out-of-the-box, standard cookie-cutter deals, anyone can execute on those. Those are not hard. They fit within policy. They fit within a nice, neat little pricing outcome. You put together the deal, you put it through credit committee, you’re on to the next one.
Where lenders can really shine is when the deals don’t fit into the box, and so they’ve got to come up with some more creative ways of getting it done, so creative structures, rethinking how the borrower really needs to approach this project. Do they really need to take on debt for this, or are there other things that they can do? Are there other loan programs in addition to just bank debt that they can combine to make those things happen? So, a creative lender who came up with some outside-the-box options for their customers and won several deals directly because of that creativity.
The next one is what we are calling the Up and Comer Award. Every bank we talk to is, of course, looking for ways to improve their performance and to grow or to keep growing as they have been. That means they can’t just rest on yesterday’s success. They have to keep improving. They have to keep growing their team. They have to keep finding tomorrow’s star producers instead of just letting the same old group, counting on them for that production for forever. This would be a lender or relationship manager who’s a relative newcomer and showed a lot of growth and potential during the year. Really started learning the business, learning how to handle customers, and showed real promise. Again, not to just execute the basics, but to be a real star and to make a meaningful impact.
The third one’s very specific. It is what we’re calling the Trophy Deal of the Year. We’re looking for someone who brought in one of those career-defining deals. It was a big loan, a big transaction, or it was to a very big customer, but it should have a story around it, right? Every great deal has a story to go with it. It’s not just who booked the biggest loan. That’s not what this is all about. It’s one where they made a big difference to a customer, they made a big difference to their bank by winning that customer, and they probably had to persevere through some things to actually get that deal on the books. The very best deals are never just easy to get. We’re looking forward to some good stories around that one and to some interesting deal talk that we can share at the conference.
The next one is what we’re calling the Perseverance Award, or as Scott Morgan here at PrecisionLender has deemed it, the Rocky Balboa Award. This is a lender who did not give up on a competitive deal even though it looked hopeless, and they eventually won that deal. One of the things that we train lenders on a lot is to kind of turn competitive offers against that competitor. What we mean by that is a lot of times, when a deal comes in and there’s an existing offer or there’s a competitive offer also in play, a lot of times those things seem like really crazy offers. In other words, we’re offering a rate at 4.5%, and the competing bank is offering something like in the low 3% range. We’re like, golly, we’re so far away that we should, in reality, just tell our customer, “That’s a really good deal. Just take it.”
A lot of times, there’s something deeper there. That customer’s still coming to you and having that conversation with you for a reason. We do a lot of training on how to dig into those things, how to ask questions to figure out what’s the pain point in the deal, and then to figure out a way to remove that pain point and trade some things for that so that it’s a workable deal for the bank but the borrower gets rid of that thing that’s really bothering them and the reason that they’re still shopping it. We’re looking for another story there of somebody who had one that looked really tough and found a way to work their way through it.
The next one is just a simple one, but it’s one we’re pretty excited to evaluate and to give out, which is a Lender of the Year. Think of this as the MVP award. To be based on some combination of a lot of things we’ve already talked about. Somebody who’s been creative, who’s won some big deals, who’s been very productive, who’s made a big difference in the community for their bank. They were, quite simply, the most important lender to the success of their bank during 2016. Again, just an MVP award for a commercial lender type.
Finally, one that’s a little different. We’re calling this one our Chief Pricing Officer of the Year Award. We work with a lot of folks who are kind of administering the pricing program, for lack of a better word, the pricing process at their bank. They’re managing that front to back. How do we handle pricing? What tools do we use? How do those tools work together? How do we best enable our front-line folks who are dealing with the customers, how do we best equip them to provide a really great customer experience? We’re looking for somebody who really did a tremendous job with that and really reshaped the pricing process at their bank.
We heard stories at last year’s conference from Andy Max and from Greg Demas. We’re looking for those kinds of stories, somebody who took a process that needed some work and they reshaped it in a pretty short time frame, especially given typical bank standards. They really transformed the way that process looks not only internally, but also the way the customers experience. That’s one that won’t be directly to a lender. It’ll be probably more for a finance or treasury type who’s actually leading the charge on pricing, but Chief Pricing Officer of the Year would be the last one there.
Maria Abbe: We’ve recently talked a bit about measuring lender performance and incentive plans within the bank within this podcast and within our blog post. We always begin those discussions by saying we’re not a company who specializes in incentive plans. How are these awards different from measuring lenders’ performance or putting an incentive plan in place, for example?
Dallas Wells: I think the idea here, at least for this first year, what we really wanted to do was go a little bit beyond the numbers, which for a company like ours that is so data and analytics focused, the numbers will be a part of it. You can’t be the Lender of the Year without being a big producer in a very profitable way, so the numbers will matter. Basically, the numbers are table stakes. You have to be good at what you’re doing and we have to be able to measure it to put you in the running.
We also wanted a little bit of a human side to this, as well. In other words, what’s the story about how this lender has handled things or how that customer was impacted or how that deal impacted the bank? We want the story behind the numbers, and that’s probably what’ll make a difference between lenders that may look very close just by the metrics. If there’s a good story there that we can share, that we can recognize, and that people can learn from, that’s how we’ll differentiate it.
Maria Abbe: Can you explain the logistics for us? How would a banker win one of these awards?
Dallas Wells: The way we’re going to do this is we’re actually seeking nominations. We’ll be sending emails out to clients, some prospects, some contacts that we have in the industry. We are looking for nominations for each of these award categories. Basically, point out someone who you think fits in one or more of these categories. Then, we’ll reach out to you to get some of the details so that we can do some evaluation of that. If you’re listening to this, you did not get an email or you just want to reach out directly, you can do that through the show notes for this podcast. There will also be emails coming out and stuff on our website about this, as well. PrecisionLender.com. There should be information there on how to go about that. Basically, any way you can get in touch with us, if you want to nominate somebody, just reach out to us and we’ll take it from there.
Maria Abbe: Great. I take it PrecisionLender employees can’t win one?
Dallas Wells: No, I’m sorry, you’re not eligible for this one.
Maria Abbe: Darn. All right. Ignore my email. Why do you believe someone should attend BankOnPurpose this May?
Dallas Wells: I think we had a great initial conference last year, but our mantra is to always take everything and make it incrementally better as we do it again. It was well-received last year, but we also learned some ways to make it better. We think that the good feedback that we got, the excitement that was generated, that we can do even better this year. It’ll, again, be in Austin, which is a great location for it, and it’ll be in May, so good weather. We’ll be able to get out and about in the city of Austin. Also, we know just from the registrations that we’re seeing, there’s a really good group coming, so there’ll be some good interactions with good, solid bankers, a good peer group for you to interact with. We’ve got some good speakers lined up, as well. I think same concept of starting with some deeper meaning, some big ideas.
Lisa McCleod will be back, because everybody loved her talk. She’ll give a slightly different one this year. We’ll start with some of those high-level concepts and then work our way down to the tactical things again. We’re excited and think it’ll be good stuff.
Maria Abbe: Awesome. Thanks so much, Dallas. That will do it for us today. Thank you all for listening. You can always find more information on today’s episode at PrecisionLender.com/podcast. If you like what you’ve been hearing, please make sure to subscribe to the feed in iTunes or SoundCloud or Stitcher, and we would love to get ratings and feedback on any of those platforms. Thank you for listening, and until next time, this has been Maria Abbe and Dallas Wells, and this is The Purposeful Banker podcast.