No, the title doesn’t contain a typo. Or a missing word. But it is missing something: lost opportunity.

When it comes to many strategic initiatives, financial institutions can have a case of the “nots.”

  • “We’re not going to train our staff because it cost too much money.”
  • “We’re not going to invest in branding because we don’t see the value.”
  • “We’re not going to conduct a strategic planning session this year because it’s a waste of time.”

Sometimes there are valid reasons for not doing a particular project. The investment might be too much, the timing might not be right or the project load may already be too high.

However, in many cases let’s call the “not” disease what it really is: an excuse.

When examining whether the cost is too high, the time involved is too much or some other reason credit unions and banks must also consider the cost of NOT doing a particular strategy or project.

In other words, what is the cost of NOT:

  • Developing a unique brand
  • Conducting a strategic planning session every year
  • Training your staff
  • Investing in technology upgrades
  • Changing the way you do business

Those of us in the financial institution arena are a conservative bunch. Boards, CEOs, CFOs, (even examiners) tend to frown on taking risks. While that certainly is a worthy approach when managing the balance sheet it can cause us to develop an overly conservative approach when it comes to our strategy and tactics.

In a recent situation we had a particular financial institution say they were “not going to move forward with staff training because the board just couldn’t come to an agreement on the need.” In their case, a big wad of “not” clogged potential growth. Would training cost them money? Yes. But is NOT training going to cost them even more?

The reality is you may lose more (for example, lost opportunities) than you think you are going to gain by invoking a not.