28 January 2009
Banking 101 and Leadership 101
Yesterday evening the Financial Marketing Association in Vienna, Austria, invited the CEO of BAWAG/PSK, Mr. David Roberts, to present the status of his turnaround of the bank. It was staged in the great Otto Wagner Haus, see foto.
Having experienced catastrophic failure before the global banking crisis, the BAWAG was taken over by the US private equity fund Cerberus. Interviewed by Dr. Frey from the "Der Standard", Roberts explained to the audience what his strategies for the turnaround were, what worked and also, where he wants to lead the bank.
His general assertion was: Let us focus on the fundamentals. It sounded to me a lot like Banking 101, but more it was Leadership 101.
Mr. Roberts wants to focus on stability, confidence and trust as the foundation for building a long-term business. Also, he stressed the importance of teaming up with the bank´s employees and to support them to increase their productivity, while at the same time building profitable relationships with customers. And, he ensures the implementation of innovative process improvement (kaizen) methods, like six sigma, CRM tools, risk management, and customer management.
These insights are of course not new, even in banking. However, these truths do not bancrupt the bank, but build a profitable business. And that means a lot nowadays.
It still requires a self-confident, down-to-earth banker to dare to speak out such much needed truths. Like Warren Buffett, who explains his formula for success with "It is simple, but not easy", so Mr. Roberts reminds us that good banking business requires them to excel at a few simple but essential competencies.
And, it is refreshing to observe that a sound thinker, attentive listener and straight talker like Mr. Roberts can provide the leadership needed in turbulent times like ours. We would all like to see more of such leadership.