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Success in the banking industry does not happen by accident. It comes from developing and implementing proven profit-driving initiatives. A recent study from S&P Global found that the average profitability of community banks has dipped in a year-over-year comparison - the return on average assets was 1.12% (down from 1.15%).

As profitability drops across the industry, it is critical that your bank adopts the specific organizational habits that drive success. The top performers have mastered these habits and continue to reap the rewards. Here are the top 8 habits of a high-performing bank:

Habit #1: Encourage a Culture of Learning

The first habit is to encourage your employees to always be learning. The best management teams in the industry create a culture of learning in their organizations and constantly seek ways to improve the knowledge and skills of their employees. They realize that the banking industry is always evolving, and they need to stay ahead of the curve. Banking schools and advanced education certifications should be viewed as investments in future performance and innovation.

Habit #2: Develop and Leverage Strong Relationships

The second habit is to cultivate strong relationships. The top-performing banks understand the importance of developing strong relationships with their customers, vendors, and employees. Strong relationships are built on trust and respect. Management visibility and direct communication is crucial for employee awareness and morale. Executives need to socialize with employees of all levels, as well as communicate with high-value customers.

Habit #3: Improve Your Business Agility

The third habit is to be agile. High-performers can adapt quickly to the ever-evolving state of the banking industry. They have a flexible mindset and are always looking for new opportunities. Banks need to create a framework that prepares, manages, and supports individuals to drive change success. Re-evaluating internal and external processes to identify opportunities for change helps foster a high-performing culture.

Habit #4: Implement Processes to Stay Disciplined

The fourth habit is to stay disciplined. Too often, management teams allow initiatives to “fall to the backburner” because of resource constraints. Profitable leadership teams often use systems and put processes in place that help them stay organized and strategy-focused. It is key for leaders to set priorities and stick to the established strategic objectives of the organization. Banks should also implement standardized processes to streamline the customer experience and optimize profitability.

Habit #5: Understand Your Customer

The fifth habit of high-performing banks is to remain customer-centric. They focus on providing the optimum mix of products and services that best meets the needs of their markets and customer base. Successful banks understand that the customer is the most important asset of the bank and work to develop tools and deploy technology that improves customer satisfaction and reduces employee turnover. As an example, several banks have already started implementing AI technology to enhance customer experiences and optimize back-office support.

Habit #6: Always Be Innovating

The sixth habit is to be innovative. The top minds in banking are always looking for new ways to improve their operational and financial performance. They are willing to take risks and experiment with innovative ideas. Exposure to fresh ideas and methods can be challenging, so staff needs to be empowered to network and further enhance their knowledge base. Tapping into third-party partners to help advance new innovations can also be useful for leadership teams.

Habit # 7: Collect and Leverage Data

High-performing banks know the importance of data, and they make it a priority to collect and analyze critical performance and customer data through multiple layers within the organization. They understand that data is best used to strategize business decisions, track progress, and identify opportunities for improvement.

Internal data and external data are both essential to the success of the bank, as they work in harmony allowing leadership teams to understand their environments so that they can develop solutions to achieve performance. By collecting and analyzing data, banks can make sound decisions that drive results.

Habit #8: Partner with Proven Experts

If your goal is to improve your bank's profitability, we recommend partnering with a proven, experienced company. Throughout the banking industry, time and resources have become more constrained, particularly due to rising wages and staff turnover. A third-party partner can alleviate some of these hurdles by not only providing additional bandwidth and resources, but also delivering specialized expertise to help the bank maintain a positive performance trajectory.

A good partner will help you identify opportunities for improvement, and then work with your team to develop and implement solutions customized to meet the specific needs of your organization.

To establish a habit of excellence means that a bank has mastered the habits that are necessary for success. They collect and leverage data, stay current on banking regulations, invest in their people, build strong relationships, focus on results, remain nimble, and provide a superior customer experience. Developing these habits will lead to success in the banking industry.

Ready to transform your bank with actionable data, insights, and intelligence-driven solutions? We like to help. Contact our team of experienced professionals today.

Robby Monteith

Senior Vice President
Hometown: Newnan, Georgia
Alma Mater: University of Georgia
Go Dawgs! Fantasy Football Guru, Dallas Cowboys Fan and Tony Romo Apologist, Apple Fanatic and Tech Enthusiast.