This entry comes from Taylor W. Wells, Communications Director for On The Mark Strategies.


When I was about 14-years-old, a sharp and searing pain rocked through my lower abdomen early one morning at school. Before lunch that day, I was on the operating table having my nearly-ruptured appendix removed. It was a rough few days, especially for a teenager looking forward to the start of summer.

During my recovery, I came to find that the appendix is considered a virtually useless organ in the human body. But man, can it still cause pain (and in some cases, even death).

So it seems as if there is at least one organ the human body can do without. In fact, with that nasty thing removed and fear of a future rupture eliminated, I functioned better than I did before. We can say the same thing about certain processes and products within financial institutions. When you sit down and really think about it, what is the appendix (or appendices) at your financial institution? What could you do without? What would you be better off without? What can you shed and be a nimbler, more responsive and more dynamic entity?

This requires you to take a long, hard look at your financial institution. A great time to do this is during the strategic planning process. Typically during a strategic planning session, banks and credit unions do a great job of adding more to their plates. More projects, more committees, more busy work, etc. However, this is simply more likely to overload and burden and already-stressed staff and system.

With this in mind, doesn’t it make sense to look for things that you can eliminate from your bank or credit union? Think of it like a hot air balloon. In the past, some carried heavy sandbags when they flew. When the pilot wanted to go higher, he simply dropped a sandbag or two. Think of the heights your bank or credit union could attain if it was able to dump a few unneeded sandbags from its load.

Following are a few quick ideas to consider when looking for your shop’s appendix.

  • Too many products and services. Are nine different checking accounts too many options? Do consumers really care that you offer discounted amusement park tickets? And does anybody still call the automated telephone teller to check their balances anymore?
  • Too many fees. This one is talked about a lot, but still warrants discussion. Yes, fee income is important. But so is keeping consumers happy. Are your products and services fee-heavy?
  • Too many branches. Yes, physical branches. As more and more consumers turn to mobile ways of interacting with their financial institution, fewer are coming into branches. Are these brick-and-mortar locations dragging you down? And is the money you spend on them keeping you from expanding your mobile and digital offerings?

A ruptured appendix is no fun. But once you recover and find out you’re better off without it, it’s not so bad. Similarly, looking at things in your bank or credit union that you can do without is also a potentially stressful process. But in the end, shedding those extra sandbags is good for both your bank or credit union and its consumers.