Banks and credit unions need an accurate, flexible, and transparent plan to guide their strategies for addressing external forces, such as economic volatility, regulation, competition, and changing customer demands.

Finance teams that focus on planning to accelerate performance create a competitive advantage for their institutions. As strategic partners, they deliver value across the institution, enabling robust plan development and execution, and goal achievement.

Many financial institutions can discover the significant benefits of evolving their planning process to include a focus on accelerated performance that drives measurable outcomes. For example, an executive from a large Midwest bank that followed this approach commented:

“We have a framework to set organizational vision and goals, and assess our operating environment—including our own strengths and weaknesses. We then develop strategies, initiatives, and a bold tactical operating plan and budget to meet our goals. We use the same tool set and information to track our performance against our plan, and make adjustments to achieve performance that meets or exceeds goals.”

Bank and credit union managers and finance teams alike should approach the planning process not as a necessary evil, but as a means of keeping a finger on the pulse of the business. Understanding existing drivers and relationships allows managers organization-wide to begin to execute the plan and steer the business. As the effects of different factors, environments, and scenarios become visible, managers are able to define the actions that should be taken to accelerate and optimize performance. As disruptions and changes occur, managers are better equipped to guide their teams, product lines, branches, shareholders, and customers/members toward desired performance goals.

Planning for performance acceleration offers individuals and teams five benefits:

  1. Become more innovative and expansive to accelerate performance
  2. Quantify how key drivers change business fundamentals
  3. Manage risk, uncertainty, and opportunities by modeling scenarios beyond current trends
  4. Reveal possibilities that otherwise might have been ignored
  5. Treat financial results as outcomes of, rather than inputs to, the planning process

Why is this important?

In Future Ready: How to Master Business Forecasting, authors Steve Morlidge and Steve Player remind us that: “Success is defined in terms of performance relative to competition, peers, or their own past record in the struggle to win customers and satisfy shareholders. This approach to performance influences all aspects of business life, including the way people talk, behave, and interact.”[I]

As evident in the latest FDIC report on banks,[II] low interest rates and new competitors have slowed loan growth. Being creative and developing different ways of thinking and planning for the “new normal” will impact your organization’s performance. To maximize performance in this challenging environment, it is essential that your organization plan for success.

In the next blog in this series, we explore considerations around delivering value and affecting outcomes as part of the planning process.


[i] Morlidge, S., Player, S.: Future Ready: How to Master Business Forecasting. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2010, p. 252.
[ii] FDIC: “FDIC-Insured Institutions Earn $44 Billion in First Quarter 2017.” Press release, May 24, 2017.