Bank and Credit Union Strategic Planning Should Be "FAST"

Mark Arnold
Bank and Credit Union Strategic Planning Should Be "FAST"

No, I don’t mean "fast." Bank or credit union strategic planning takes time. Planning is more than a day on the calendar, and your plan is more than a dusty document to stick on a shelf.

But it should be "FAST." In other words:

  • Focused
  • Achievable
  • Simple
  • Transparent

What do these characteristics mean for your planning session? Here’s what each element entails.


An excellent bank or credit union strategic planning session requires focus.

There are a million things you could do, but there’s no way to do them all. That’s why planning is more about what you won’t do. You must take your list of priorities and cut it down to three or four initiatives. Throw out that massive ten item list!

Limiting your focus increases your odds of success. Your team pours into the most important goals, rather than dividing their efforts among initiatives of varying significance.

Focus also increases your odds of satisfaction. Long task lists overwhelm your staff and deflate them when only a couple things get done. Achieving focused goals grants a sense of accomplishment and boosts morale.


As Stephen Covey says, "Begin with the end in mind." Figure out if your initiatives are feasible before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Consider these questions:

  • Do you have the funds necessary to accomplish the goal?
  • Do you have the right personnel to achieve the goal?
  • Do you have the willpower to attain the goal?

This tip doesn’t mean your goals don’t stretch you. Good initiatives always will…within the realm of what’s realistic.


Do you remember Geico’s old caveman commercials? The line, "It’s so easy a caveman could do it," probably has permanent territory in your head. Besides being funny, the advertisements highlighted simplicity as a selling point of the insurance product.

Put your bank or credit union strategic planning through the "caveman test."

That means your plan must be simple. Simple isn’t a negative term here – it underscores the necessity for clarity in your plan. State every initiative in an easily understandable fashion.

Leave no room for interpretation. Achieving your goals requires the whole team rowing in the same direction, so they need an undebatable reference point (your plan).


Your plan does not belong to the Board and executives. It’s an institution-wide effort, and everyone from the CEO to the tellers need to comprehend it.

Conduct your bank or credit union strategic planning with transparency. Don’t shut your employees out because they weren’t in room with you when you set the goals. Disseminate your plan and take time to explain it to whoever has questions.

Give your team ownership over the plan, and they will passionately pursue its ends. Defeat apathy with communication. Sharing spurs caring.

Hopefully these tips help you conquer your strategic planning sessions this month or better execute the plan you set this fall. These tidbits are also evergreen – they’ll apply to next year’s plans as well!

It’s not too early to schedule your planning session for next year. Book a free consultation with On The Mark Strategies today to schedule your session. Slots fill up fast!

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO