During the Middle Ages the town controller or accountant would show the citizenry how much was in the town’s “bouge,” a leather bag or wallet. With this knowledge, they would decide how best to spend it to cover the town’s expenses. Eventually, the term became the “budget” and was adopted by various enterprises to control expenses. Since not all expenses are immediate, the idea of forecasting revenues and expenses slowly entered the picture. However, expense control remained the primary objective. Hence the saying familiar to all of us: “That’s not in the budget.”
Are you really planning, or are you just budgeting?
By this I mean, are you just filling out the numbers on a spreadsheet by trending? It is gratifying when all the numbers come together in a neat package showing expected growth and earnings for next year. Along the way there were probably many contributors who verbally expressed their goals and plans for the year. Then, once the budget is done, it gets presented to and accepted by the board. As each month passes, comparisons are made of the budget “predictions” to reality. Variances from “budget” are explained, and business continues. In essence, that’s budgeting.
Everyone probably has their budgets in place for 2020 by now. And now comes along the Coronavirus and messes everything up. The Fed has already lowered rates by half a point. So, now you’re scrambling to figure out how this will impact your 2020 plans?
Seems like you have a few choices:
Most of us have been building annual budgets forever. First on paper spreadsheets, then with electronic spreadsheet like Excel, and now with software budgeting tools that amount to little more than more convenient spreadsheets. But a budget is typically all numeric built with trending and last year’s information. Usually the CEO provides a growth and earnings expectation and we build the budget to make the math work. If you have a system that can also provide rate risk analysis and draw detailed data from your core system, you really have a great system. So, what’s the problem?
The purchase of an asset liability management (ALM) system presents a problem to many bankers. Often the process begins with the creation of a checklist of features and functions then progresses to comparing vendors. The vendor with the highest "score" wins. While this may be a good start, there are dimensions to the problem that this ignores, specifically the quality and significance of the features identified.
Another great year has gone by, the stock market notwithstanding. With the number of banks and credit unions continuing to shrink, the cream is rising to the top. The quality of the remaining institutions is getting better.
I was playing golf the other day and, of course, while I’m playing I’m thinking about work, which is a bad idea since I should be concentrating on my game. But I’m always thinking about ways to make planning more effective. My thoughts today were on variance analysis. Everyone uses variance analyses in their board reports to check progress against plan and it is certainly a good check. At board meetings we review our current position relative to last month, year-to-date and last year-to-date, etc.
Since the mid-1960s change has been a constant. The only real change is the rate of change. For years there have been predictions of shrinkage in the number of banks – the prediction is finally coming true. There has been a big change in the number of institutions (over 16,000 in 1972 to about 5,000 today). The environments they serve and the ways in which they serve has changed. Competition, consumer attitudes, market demographics, regulations, products, and technology have all had their impact.