As the senior sales associate at Vertical IQ, I am always interested in learning about the new sales strategies and tactics that are being used by banks and bankers; it gives me insights into ways that the industry intelligence on Vertical IQ can be better integrated into their processes. To that end, I recently attended the 2019 BankOnPurpose (BOP) conference in Austin, Texas—a great conference that puts a unique spin on the typical banking conference.

This year’s agenda featured presentations with a common theme: refocusing banking back onto the customer and their needs, especially from a leadership perspective. The speakers and sessions explored ways to conscientiously build a team of bankers and an organization—with purpose, so to speak—rather than just developing specific products and tools.

The Magic You Can Perform When You Let Go of Logic

Rory Sutherland, the vice-chairman of Ogilvy, led a session called “The Magic You Can Perform When You Let Go of Logic.” He described how, on the whole, the banking industry lost the trust of customers when it ceased to be local. Yes, that national growth allowed banks to be more efficient and effective, but customers grew wary because it became impersonal—they oftentimes no longer knew the person who was handling their money.

Getting people to think about things, like a bank’s growth, in a different way can change mindsets and outcomes. Sutherland gave the example of Nespresso coffee pods and how they’ve marketed themselves as “saving you money,” when in reality, it is a much more expensive way to purchase coffee than if you were to buy it in bulk and make it the old-fashioned way.

In another example of changing mindsets and thus outcomes, Sutherland described a recent trip where the pilot came over the speaker to say he had both good and bad news. The bad news: There was no jet bridge, an announcement that typically elicits groans from passengers concerned about delays. But the good news, the pilot explained, was that a bus would meet them at the plane and take them directly to the baggage claim area. Voila: The mindset of the passengers was immediately changed to it being an efficiency and benefit that there was a bus.

Just as in the Nespresso and airport examples, successful companies find a way to hit the psychological aspect of humans. By simply shifting the way we are presented with information, banks can change customers’ perception of them.

Leading From Purpose: Clarity and Confidence to Act in Times of Uncertainty

Presenter Nick Craig, author of “Leading From Purpose” and president of the Core Leadership Institute, shared his thoughts on “Leading From Purpose: Clarity and Confidence to Act in Times of Uncertainty.” In his remarks, he noted that “purpose” is not what you do but how you do it.

He explained that no one can give you purpose or take it away from you; it is something that is inside of you. Purpose can make a difference in all aspects of your life, but it only happens when you show up and work for it. People who labor all their lives with no purpose waste their time and hard work.

Craig asked: What do each of us bring that no one else does? Understanding your own purpose, as well as the purpose that drives those who work with you, can build a stronger team. In order to be effective, leaders need to understand this crucial point and know what drives each person on their team to be their best.

Right Tools, Right Training, Right Talent – Building an RM Dream Team

Stephanie Moline, EVP of the Enterprise Bank Group at First National Bank of Omaha, and Dave Paulson, EVP and head of Wholesale Banking at United Bank noted that competition is tough in the banking industry; there are many opportunities for an RM in most markets. So, what can your bank do to win the talent? They suggested banks maintain a pipeline of talent just like they would maintain a pipeline for deposit and loan opportunities by creating a platform an RM would be drawn to work for.

To attract that top talent, bank hiring managers must know their “audience.” For example, millennials want feedback more frequently, which necessitates more coaching. They want to know what the next opportunity is and the steps needed to get there, and they prize work/life balance. Banks must learn to make the workplace a place where each person can do their personal best.

Moline and Paulson discussed the “RM life cycle”—what banks need to do to successfully develop their RM team: 1) Show the new RM what to do; 2) Give them guidelines on expectations for the position; 3) Evaluate their performance and hold them accountable to expectations; and 4) Remotivate as needed. Oftentimes when an individual contributor fails, it is due to a breakdown in coaching, which needs to be clear, consistent, and transparent.

And don’t forget: Recognition of successes also is a key component to yield a successful team!

>> To learn more about BankOnPurpose and next year’s conference, visit

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