In the last few months, we have been engaged in a Strategic Planning process which, if done correctly, can yield that road map to further success we are all hoping to find. Our Bank’s senior management group spent quite some time trying to think about “who we are and who we want to continue to be for another 160 years.” This is always a great exercise as the process has a way of lifting everyone out of the day-to-day and tends to expand thinking.
As with most plans, we produced a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). If done correctly you’ll have a laundry list of things you do well and things you may need to improve that usually fall into the W & O categories. I found the process fascinating, as I would have thought human nature would take over and we’d spend more time emphasizing the negatives than the positives in our organization. At the end of the day, we don’t have much control over interest rates or the economy being in the doldrums, but what we can do is focus on the positives and work to celebrate and leverage them.
We talked a lot about the fact that we care about our customers. In spite of all the negative press about the banking industry, most bankers are caring, thoughtful and are looking to be helpful. Here at First County Bank, we offer a significant amount of expertise to our customers and the community – just think about our work in the nonprofit sector as a real example or when our mortgage experts sit down with a young family to determine if they can afford their first home.
Being a “Trusted Advisor” to our clients is a meaningful part of our long-term strategy. To some, this is a “soft” concept – being a valuable resource, a good listener, building relationships and earning someone’s trust. Although, as a trusted advisor, it may take time for our efforts to yield financial results, we are in it for the long run and we hope to be the Bank our customers turn to when an issue or an opportunity arises. We think that being relationship- and trust-based is key to a successful future; is a better way to do business and is who we want to be “when we grow up.”