Strategies, Best Practices and Thought Leadership

Life Lessons: How They Apply to Lending

At the end of last year, I cleaned out some old files and found a list of life lessons from years ago.  As I reread the list, I kept thinking how applicable the lessons are to successful lending.  Many are reminiscent to characteristics that we see from our progressive and successful clients.  As you start out 2019, see if any of these life lessons can help you be a better banker. 

Don’t be afraid to fail.

If you never fail at anything, you may be aiming too low, playing it safe, and doing what Stephen Covey used to call “playing par 9 golf.” So, keep challenging yourself, even – and especially – after defeats.

Bankers by nature are risk-adverse, but the better ones I’ve met understand that they are in the business of measuring risk—then getting paid for it.  Don’t be afraid to lend.  Measure and quantify the risk and the price accordingly.

There’s no substitute for hard work.

Honest work may be the surest path to self-respect.  Go the extra mile, and see how good you can be at something. The harder you work, the less crowded a road you’ll find.

Working hard while also working smart will help you win the race.  Successful bankers go the extra mile to learn from other industries and other businesses how to best to provide service to their customers.  The transformation to a customer-centric approach requires customer-centric tools to accomplish the hard work of growing the bank in a competitive environment.

Don’t expect fairness – at least in the short run.

To deal with life’s unfairness, focus on the future, not on the past. Whatever happens, don’t wallow. Concentrate on others, not on yourself. Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi reminded players that, “it’s not how many times you’re knocked down, but how many times you get up again, that’ll determine your destiny.” The message: just keep getting up.

There is more competition in the lending space than ever before.  Not all are playing on the same “regulatory field.”  Many feel that it is unfair.  The successful bank learns from their competition and beats them at their own game.  Right now, the hot topic is digitizing the customer experience.  There are now tools and solutions for banks to compete.

Embrace reality. 

President John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things.” You can’t change reality, so you need to face it head on. It might sound crazy, but you should seek out bad news – the earlier you find it, the earlier you can do something about it before it gets worse. Look for problems and become the solution. Nothing good ever comes of avoiding the hard truths.

This is so true when managing a loan portfolio.  How many times have we seen banks bury problems, hoping that the problems somehow work themselves out?  The most successful banks take a proactive approach to monitoring their portfolios to embrace their reality.

This post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Right Loan Origination System.

Topics: Commercial Lending, Small Business Lending, Uncategorized

John Watts

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As SVP of Operations & General Manager of Lending Solutions, John Watts is responsible for the leadership and direction of the company’s lending solutions. Watts coordinates the development and delivery of Baker Hill’s loan origination and portfolio risk management solutions. Relying on almost 30 years of experience in the financial services and business industries, Watts directs Baker Hill’s Advisory Services, Implementation Project Management, Configurations, Education Services, Client Support teams as well as Product Management, Product Development and IT to ensure success.

Watts is also past president of the Indiana Golf Association and a former member of the board of directors for Indiana First Tee. Watts earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Investments, Finance and Banking from University of Wisconsin – Madison and received his master’s degree in Business Administration, Finance, from University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.

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