Back To School
As a kid growing up in Michigan, we lived for summer. No school. Go to the lake and beach. Cook outs. Working on my tan (although multiple surgeries later for carcinoma and melanoma makes me question the wisdom of that goal). Yes, excitement and anticipation ran high.
I was blessed to grow up in the country. The family “homestead” included large orchards, several gardens and a huge yard. Needless to say, there was no shortage of work and chores that needed to be done, so fun took a back seat. What a dilemma. Summer was short and there was a lot of “fun” we needed to get in. As Eddie Cochran wrote, “There ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues!”
My frame of reference was that summer started on Memorial Day. July 4th was the halfway point, which meant summer was half gone! The dog days of August with the heat and humidity brought the realization that school was just around the corner. It was depressing since I had not accomplished my summer goals. Soon I would have to pull out my school clothes and put away the cutoffs and t-shirts. Reluctantly, I came around to a more positive level of anticipation of seeing friends and learning new things in school.
So, you ask, what is the point of this stroll down memory lane from this old fool? Good question, I forgot. (Not really!)
Each year we start out with high hopes and expectations in the lending and credit industry. On the lending side of the equation, the expectation is relatively straight-forward. The goal is to profitably grow the portfolio. This translates into adding new client relationships and expanding existing relationships, reducing problem loans, and identifying new fee opportunities. For the credit administration and loan review function, the goals tend to be a bit more esoteric. Goals may involve a review of the risk rating model, or perhaps implementation of new loan review policies, or maybe establishing standards for review of financial statements, borrowing base reports, and/or covenant compliance certificates.
The initial enthusiasm and energy parallel the same excitement that comes with the start of summer. However, we quickly are hit by the realization that all the chores still need to be done. Grass needs to be mowed. The garden needs to be tilled. The orchard needs to be pruned and fruit needs to be picked. In the office, we attempt to catch up on delinquent reporting requirements. Conducting mid-year credit quality review of watch credits jumps in. Perhaps we will squeeze in a round of golf with a major client or prospect. In the end, the result is we may have neglected or abandoned those lofty goals that we had at the beginning of the year.
Fear not. While summer is half over and the dog days are upon us, it is a time when obligations tend to slow down. That makes it the perfect time to dust off those program plans for the year. Do an assessment of what has been accomplished and what needs to be completed. Consider the resources available to you and the time necessary to meet your goal. Perhaps a well-timed call to the team at Enlighten Financial could help you meet your goals!
Since “bribe” is such an ugly word in the financial services industry, I suggest that you establish “rewards” for completing your goals and implementing your new programs. Maybe it is a cold adult beverage. For bigger success, go BIG like a trip to the beach. Nothing says success like toes in the sand and the sun on your face.
So, it seems we have come full circle. We still have time for fun this summer and we still have time to accomplish the goals that were our motivation at the beginning of the year. Rather than obsessing about the approach of fall and “going back to school,” we can adjust our attitude and refocus on our goals and still have time to set some summer fun as a reward. Enjoy! There still is time for a cure to the Summertime Blues!
Richard Rudolph is Senior Consultant at Enlighten Financial, a specialized consulting firm that focuses on loan review and risk management services to community banks and credit unions. Enlighten Financial has made it our business to shed light on the complex financial landscape, and lead clients in the right direction. We work with financial institutions and other providers to mitigate risk. To talk to Rick directly, please call: 920.264.9150.