Consulting for Bank Management and Boards
In 2014, the Denver-based consulting firm Bank Strategies LLC and Bankers’ Bank of the West entered into a joint marketing agreement to provide community banks with access to a team of accomplished banking professionals on a project basis. The growing need, especially among independent banks, for specific skills and outside expertise on an as-needed basis later prompted BBW to propose a tighter relationship with the Bank Strategies group. By mutual agreement, Bank Strategies became a division of BBW in 2018.
Today Jim Swanson, a financial services industry professional with decades of broad experience, leads the division. Bank Strategies has helped banks ranging in asset size from less than $100 million to more than $2 billion with various consultative needs, and the group brings a balanced perspective, decades of banking experience, and highly developed skills to every assignment.
Among the services offered by Bank Strategies, the two most often requested are loan review and strategic planning. In addition, Bank Strategies can provide consulting, analysis, and assistance with projects in these and a variety of other areas:
- Credit risk management BSA/AML compliance
- Strategic expansion
- Enterprise risk management and organizational governance
- Management, staffing and organizational structure studies
- Performance management
- Regulatory safety and soundness consultation
- Profitability enhancement
Jim Swanson is the principal of Bank Strategies, an autonomous division of Bankers’ Bank of the West. His decades-long background in the banking industry includes:
- Ten years in lending roles including chief credit officer, loan administration, and compliance.
- Eight years as a commissioned bank examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
- Nine years as a consultant to financial institutions.
- Master’s in business administration degree from the University of Denver; bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Strategic Planning Facilitation
Effective strategic planning can fuel optimal performance in myriad ways. Outcomes of a productive strategic planning process commonly include:
- A clear vision with top priorities and a roadmap for achieving them.
- A foundation for getting the organization on the same page and pulling in one direction.
- Awareness of emerging changes, threats and opportunities ahead in a fast-changing environment.
- An appraisal of the leadership’s performance of fiduciary duties and the progress made on meeting expectations of stakeholders and regulators.
- Dedicated focus on high-level goals and objectives that may have been previously deferred.
- A solid and unified commitment to the strategic plan—a strong competitive advantage and a key trait of high-performing financial institutions.
Advantages of facilitation by Bank Strategies
- Total objectivity. As an independent facilitator, we focus entirely on maximizing value for our clients. We have no hidden agenda, which enables us to draw out honest opinions from participants.
- Strategic emphasis. We handle many of the administrative details of the process—from preparation to note taking to plan write-up. Your management team and directors are free to focus on strategy, goals and big-picture questions.
- Full focus on financial institutions. We bring broad and deep banking experience to the process. Our insights into the attributes of high-performing banks enhance our facilitative role.
- Reputation. Our strong reputation with peers, clients, and regulators is a reflection of our integrity and commitment to performing at a consistently high level.
- It’s your process. We won’t dominate the planning session, the overall process, or the decisions. Our services are customized to your needs.
From time to time, community bank leaders face challenges, decisions and requirements that require outside perspective, specialized knowledge, or more staff time than the organization can devote to the task. On-call assistance with loan review and other special projects is available through Bank Strategies, and can be provided in these and other areas, depending on your needs.
Feedback can be provided in these and other areas, depending on your needs:
- Loan portfolio quality testing and review
- Loan authority/approval compliance
- Underwriting analysis assessment
- Internal policy and procedure compliance
- Risk rating systems validation
- Use and monitoring of loan covenants
- Loan documentation assessment
- Collateral valuation and review
- Documentation tracking; tickler reliability
- Identification and monitoring of problem loans
Added benefits from a Bank Strategies loan review:
- Exposure to industry best practices and alternative approaches
- Enhanced corporate governance through independent feedback on lending activities
- Balanced assessment from the vantage point of seasoned professionals with combined experience as bankers, consultants, and regulators
- Diminished regulatory risk; no surprises at exam time
- Greater regulatory confidence in internal credit risk management practices, resulting in less intrusive regulatory examinations
- Experience difficult to match through an internal review function or directors’ examination/audits conducted by CPA firms
Credit Risk Management
In addition to loan review, Bank Strategies offers a variety of other services to help manage credit risk exposure to your organization. These services include:
- Problem loan consultation and strategy development
- ALLL review and consultation
- Loan portfolio acquisition due diligence
- Loan policy and procedure review and development
- Loan documentation system review and consultation
- Loan/Credit administration workflow consultation
- Outsourced chief credit officer functions
Bank Secrecy Act oversight and regulation has increased sharply in recent years, and must be managed effectively to maintain a sound overall regulatory risk profile. Bank strategies offers services to keep your organization on track in its BSA/AML compliance efforts:
- Independent testing/review of BSA compliance program effectiveness and regulatory requirements
- Consultation and assistance in responding to regulatory issues or criticisms
- Loan policy and procedure review and development
- BSA examination preparation and guidance
- BSA risk assessments
- Training for directors, management, and staff
Successful market and product expansion does not happen by coincidence. Bank Strategies is available to assist you manage expansion opportunities and associated risks in a variety of areas:
- De Novo bank consultation
- Acquisition due diligence assistance
- Regulatory application assistance
- Business plan development
- Branch expansion consultation
- Buy/sell considerations
- New product/service assessments and consultation
- Market analysis/opportunity consultation
Enterprise Risk Management and Corporate Governance
- Corporate governance structure review and consultation
- Enterprise risk management assessment and consultation
- Management information systems assessment and consultation
- Audit assessment/coverage consultation
- Director training
- Board/CEO performance evaluation/assessment
- Committee structure/design
- Corporate record consultation (board and committee minutes)
Management, Staffing, and Organizational Structure
Your bank is only as good as its people, and Bank Strategies offers services designed to help you objectively assess the skill sets and staffing levels within your team, along with the organizational lines of reporting that can also significantly impact internal dynamics and organizational effectiveness.
- Management/staffing qualifications assessments
- Management/staffing level assessments
- Organizational structure review and consultation
- Management succession planning consultation
Effective and well-designed performance management systems are essential to attracting, developing, and retaining the qualified and motivated staff to make your bank successful. Bank Strategies offers services to help you develop and maintain sound performance management systems:
- Performance evaluation systems design
- Incentive compensation systems design and consultation
- Salary and benefits analysis and comparisons
- Corporate goal and performance evaluation system alignment
- Staff development plan consultation
Regulatory Safety and Soundness Consultation
Navigating the regulatory landscape and maintaining healthy relations with your bank’s regulatory agency(s) can be a challenging but essential endeavor. Bank Strategies is prepared to partner with you to address these challenges through a variety of services:
- Safety and soundness examination preparation
- Enforcement action compliance consultation and assistance
- Assistance in addressing and responding to Matters Requiring Attention, Matters Requiring Board Attention, and other regulatory concerns
- Charter conversion consultation
- Bank holding company and affiliate strategy consultation
With operating costs ever increasing, it is essential that you leave no stone unturned in the effort to maintain or improve profitability and shareholder return. Bank Strategies is prepared to assist you in this effort through the following services:
- Expense reduction analysis and efficiency assessments
- Business unit profitability improvement
- Branch profitability analysis and reporting
- Loan growth consultation
- Loan department efficiency studies
- Corporate structure assessments to maximize efficiencies
To get the information you need on any services through Bankers’ Bank of the West please contact us.
1099 Eighteenth Street
Denver, Colorado 80202
2935 Pine Lake Road
Lincoln, NE 68516