ABA Banking Journal - May 2013 - (Page 6)

editor’s column By bill Streeter Old dogs department H “It is all too rare that people in responsible positions are willing to open their minds to new ideas and OtHers’ experIence” Bill Streeter bstreeter@sbpub.com 6| ABA BANKING JOURNAL | MAY 2013 ere’s a change of pace for this column: a couple of positive regulator stories. (Don’t stop reading, they’re interesting. Really.) We were talking with a community bank CEO at ABA’s Government Relations Summit who told us he regards his regulator as a resource. (The national bank has approximately $500 million in assets.) On more than one occasion he has called the OCC and asked if someone was available to give him suggestions on a business question. One recent case involved getting into a new line of business. The Comptroller’s office was happy to oblige and sent up an expert from Washington who spent the day at the bank. Maybe this isn’t all that unusual, but you don’t often hear about it. Examiners and their chiefs see a lot what goes on in banking—best practices and worst. They’re bound to have some insights. Some might think, “Yes, but if you don’t use their suggestions, and things don’t work out, you’re more likely to be written up.” Perhaps. But this banker didn’t see it that way. He was just interested in learning. The second story is the reverse of the same coin—i.e. a regulator who came to a bank to learn. ABA Chairman Matt Williams told the story at the summit of how, after listening to David Silberman speak at last year’s summit, he had invited the regulator to come visit Gothenburg State Bank, in Gothenburg, Neb., where Williams is chairman and president. A few months later, Silberman, who is associate director of research, markets, and regulations at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, took him up on the offer. Gothenburg is not an easy place to get to. Nevertheless, Silberman arrived by 10 a.m. and spent the whole day talking with Williams, his staff, and several customers about mortgage lending, overdraft protection, compliance, and more. Silberman was shocked, said Williams, to learn that the $125 million-assets bank doesn’t have a full-time lawyer on staff—interesting considering CFPB often includes a lawyer on its exam teams. But we’re focusing on the positive here, and Silberman’s visit was a positive. He has since called two of Williams’ mortgage people to ask them some follow-up questions. Silberman, like the banker above, was willing to learn. This shouldn’t be remarkable. Unfortunately, it is all too rare that people in responsible positions are willing to open their minds to new ideas and others’ experience. More often the combination of position, title, degrees, and “authority” combine to close the door to learning. A very interesting case study in this issue (p. 16), puts an exclamation point on this line of thinking. It describes how a bank took the trouble to stop and challenge the many large and small practices that form the fabric of everyday business, but which are rarely looked at or questioned. This process required a willingness on the part of management and department heads to admit that a lot of stuff happens for no other reason than, “That’s how we’ve always done it.” The great business leaders never lose the almost childlike inquisitiveness into the new, the different, the better way, the interesting idea. They set aside things like arrogance and the fear of looking stupid in order to keep their minds open to learning new tricks.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - May 2013

ABA Banking Journal - May 2013
Contents
Chairman’s View
Editor’s Column
The Economy
Bank Notes
Picture This
ABA Community Banking
Pass the Aspirin
Tech Topics
Looking for leaders
Top-performing mid-size banks
New world of appraisals
Compliance Clinic
Compliance Inbox
ABA At Your Service
First Person

ABA Banking Journal - May 2013

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