Since the introduction of the venerable GAP analysis in the mid-1970s, risk management has continued to evolve. It has moved from the basic mismatch of rate sensitive assets and liabilities to more sophisticated techniques – such as prepayment modeling, rate change betas on non-maturing deposits, and rate shocking with parallel rate shifts and non-parallel rate shifts. Then mark-to-market analysis of the balance sheet and the impact on equity was brought in with the attendant benchmarks. These are all interesting measurements of the company’s risk at a point in time. It’s like glancing at your car’s dashboard.
Whether your year-end is calendar or fiscal, there are a few things you can do to make the future-you happy. Examiners and auditors thoroughly enjoy marking off their-checklist of items to review and criticize. Most times the request letters ask for the same documents year-after year. Create an exam folder complete with instructions for yourself for the following year.
Interest rate risk, call reports, budget, ALCO, board meetings, re-doing the budget, exams, audits, holiday parties, vacation schedules…I’m already exhausted. My suggestion, budget your time! I can’t tell you how many times I hear clients say they had to postpone scheduled days off to complete their workload. This is the perfect time to plan what you can before year-end.
"May you live in interesting times." This ancient Chinese proverb continues to describe the nature of banking. The banking community is going through the most challenging period since the Great Depression. Not only is the economy unsure, but flat interest rates, coupled with new regulation and increased consolidation, have caused massive structural changes within the financial industry. In brief, the task of management has become more difficult. It has changed from a maintenance task to one of survival. Today’s banker must be more sensitive to marketing, pricing, resource allocation, and productivity than at any time in the past. He/she must sharpen their business expertise, marketing skills, investment sense, and develop a tougher attitude toward expense control. To accompany all this, you must have the appropriate informational tools that allow you to assimilate and evaluate the impact of possible changes to the institution’s current and future income.
Interestingly, the response I usually hear from small businesses (outside of the banking industry) is that they do have a strong, more formal handle on their day to day cash needs. They keep a check register (albeit mostly electronically, for example in QuickBooks). They know how much cash they need to fund their regular business needs and they monitor their cash flow in detail. They know which customers they need to collect from up-front, and which ones are slow to pay. They have concrete back-up plans if cash runs tight – savings, lines of credit, which bills they can delay paying versus which payments are critical to be paid on time. They know where they’ve been and where they’re trending - positive cash flow is critical to staying in business, so cash flow is always top of mind. Otherwise they’re out of business (and hence not part of my survey.)
Non-financial businesses ranging from the humble lemonade stand to the behemoth WalMart are easy to understand. The assets being transacted are, for the most part, quite tangible. It is easy to understand that something is manufactured, it is delivered to a retail place of business, it is stored in a warehouse as a portion of inventory, it is displayed on a shelf and it is ultimately purchased by people like you and me to put in a bag to take home. The equivalent chain of distribution can be identified in banking but there is one big difference that makes it all the more complicated. It is the fact that the product, being money in its many different forms, is not something you see, feel, taste, hear, or smell in any direct way.
If you are a parent, you use "what if" scenarios every day with your child. What if you get lost? What if you saved your allowance rather than spend it? What if your friends ask you to…? What if you study for that test? What if a stranger offers you a ride?
I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all of our clients and prospective clients that stopped by the Plansmith booth and took a few minutes to talk with me and my colleague, Ron Trice. In an era of endless emails, conference calls and web presentations it is always nice to put a face to a name and shake hands with all of you. If you didn’t come by the booth but happened to see the two tall guys in the loudest most obnoxious Hawaiian shirts ever - yes, that was us.
Opening night featured a performance by singer Eddie Money, which literally had the Washington Convention Center "shaking to the beat of the night". Day two presented a strong stream of visitors to the many exhibitor booths spread out around the convention center floor. It was great to finally put a few client faces to the many voices that we speak to regularly. We met a number of new credit unions that were interested in our solutions for managing risk and active planning. It was fun being able to run our Financial Compass model for these individuals, right there on the convention floor. Some really seemed impressed by our ability to quickly provide a two and three year rolling forecast for their organization. Impressive perhaps, but after all, "the future is ours to see".
Last week we covered the first half of the OCC letter requesting information from client banks on their interest rate risk (IRR) model. Along with the letter, you may have run across some forms to be filled in with results from your model. This post and the accompanying webinar are meant to clarify the letter and terminology. Separately, but related, we have produced a video and guide for completing the OCC EV IRR Data Form for Financial Compass Clients (to be released soon).