Strategic plans in 2021: How banks and credit unions can adapt
For many people, 2020 has been a crash course in risk tolerance. From the pandemic to the economic downturn, to the presidential election – it has been an eventful year. Throw in the wildfires, school closures and killer bees and it is easy to see how our lives, and corresponding planning and anxiety for the future, have changed as well.
Banks and credit unions looking to plan for success in 2021 have new variables to throw into the mix. While some say the pandemic has only sped up trends already taking place in our industry—remote work, digital transformation, and compressing margins, to name a few—it’s safe to say no one had “pandemic planning” on their list in 2020. So, what can the past year teach us to better prepare our businesses in 2021?
Hindsight is 2020, and future planning is still uncertain
It is impossible to know exactly what 2021 has in store for financial institutions. Physical branch locations could close again, leading to more rapid digitization in the forms of both new technology and advanced self-service equipment like ITMs. Or another uptick in unemployment could lead to defaulting mortgages and business loans, and cause ROA to plummet. Successful financial institutions will develop solid contingency plans with the new information they learned in 2020.
The Equips COVID-19 survey of banks and credit unions found that changes to business operations, adjusting revenue forecasts and budgeting for rising costs were top-of-mind for many professionals. Understanding your business’s strengths and weaknesses in your current market is critical. As you plan for 2021, make sure your team considers the questions below.
Questions to ask your organization
- What role do we think COVID-19 will play in our market next year?
- How can we enhance client experience while our locations are closed?
- How do we retain top talent and keep employees engaged?
- What options do we have to accommodate possible defaulting mortgages and/or business loans?
- Do we need to adjust our branch strategy to incorporate new methods of self-service?
- How do we support both Bricks and Mortar AND Digital and Technology?
Recommendation: Control what you can with a strategic plan and checklist
When the future is uncertain, it is best to control what you can. Smart leaders will dig into the data they have to make accurate predictions for future costs and identify potential savings opportunities. At Equips, we recommend our customers act on the items listed below.
1. Evaluate your annual contracts to find savings and consolidation opportunities.
Gather all maintenance and equipment related invoices from the past year. Was your annual spend in line with your budget expectations? If it’s not, you should start to look for time-saving and consolidation opportunities. For example, if you are receiving multiple invoices from the same vendor, ask if you can have multiple pieces of equipment or locations invoiced at the same time to create less work for you/your staff. It is also a good idea to audit your invoices to verify their accuracy and confirm you are receiving fair pricing based on industry standards. If you have varying contract expiration dates, this is even more important.
2. Get an idea of projected 2021 equipment and maintenance expenses.
No one likes costly surprises. You should reach out to each service provider you work with to get information on:
- Equipment nearing the end of its useful life
- Pending obsolescence of any of your equipment or its parts
- Recommended preventative maintenance to extend useful life.
Whether you do this now for all providers, or on a case-by-case basis as you approach renewals, it is a critical part of your annual budget and planning process.
3. Conduct vendor reviews/audits with internal staff.
Take the pulse of your branch staff to gauge their satisfaction with the service they receive from vendors. Some questions worth exploring include:
- Does the service provider respond in a timely manner to service requests?
- Does the service provider treat branch staff with respect?
- Is the quality of service meeting or exceeding expectations?
- Is the service provider diagnosing issues and making repairs in a timely and effective way?
If you find an underperforming vendor, it might be time to start getting alternative quotes. If you’re an Equips customer, we can pull from our list of 500+ vendors to provide you with both benchmarking information, and recommended vendors tailored to your specific business needs and goals. Contact us for more information.
4. Identify ways to make processes easier for your staff.
Ask your staff for feedback on existing processes with vendors. If you notice any issues or opportunities for improvement, reach out to the service providers to see if you can adapt your current workflows. Depending on how many different providers you have at your organization, it may make sense to move to a centralized dispatching tool, like Equips. This way, you can provide one location for employees to submit service requests for any vendor you work with.
5. Incorporate technology to make sure your equipment is running at peak efficiency.
Our “new normal” has rapidly increased our expectations of equipment performance, and technology. At Equips, we continue to see both more repairs on ATMs, and more customers looking to bring ITMs into their branches. If your ATM downtime is creeping up, implementing a managed service program, like EquipsConnect, can help. How? For one customer, our program is currently finding 90% of ATM issues before they are reported to the branch by a customer. Another opportunity for improvement we typically see is for internal facilities and property management. It is likely worth exploring how and when internal issues get reported to your facilities person or team. Existing Equips customers can take advantage of the new internal facilities feature to streamline requests and provide faster internal issue resolution on topics ranging from plumbing, to property management, and more.
6. Make sure your equipment list or database is up to date.
You should have an overview of all your assets, or rather, your equipment landscape, across branch locations. This could be in either a database, or simply live in excel or google sheets. Either way, you should take a look at this and make sure it is current. You will want to add or remove any equipment based on the changes you made last year. And it is also a good idea to flag any obsolete items if you know you will need to replace them in the short-term. If you are an Equips customer, our quick training videos can show you how to view your equipment list and add new equipment.
Gain Freedom and Flexibility to Do Your Best Work in 2021
At Equips, we make it easy to get coverage, gain insight and change vendors as you need to. Our revolutionary approach to equipment management helps our partners get better service and support, on their terms.
How it works
1. Choose the Equipment You Want to Cover.
Pick and choose any items, across branches, from ATMs down to basic printers.
2. Pick Your Vendors.
Decide which vendors you want to keep, and which you want to get new quotes on.
3. Let Equips Do the Rest.
We’ll run the numbers and get back to you with one annual contract including your existing vendors, and recommended alternatives.
Stop juggling multiple vendors, contracts and systems. And start doing your best work with Equips.
How the #$%& Do You Build Your 2021 Strategic Plan During COVID-19? The Financial Brand
NCR Predicts Banking Trends for 2021, Global Banking & Finance Review
After a year unlike any other, what community banks and credit unions should budget for in 2021, Safe Systems
Banks Outlook 2021, ING
5 Things You Are Going To Have To Do With Your Branches in 2021 and Beyond, CenterState
5 must-discuss topics for 2021 planning, CUInsight
Your Real PPP: Post-Pandemic Plan, Credit Union Times
Reshaping service strategies: 5 issues to consider, CUNA
What credit unions need to know for strategic planning, American Banker
Market Survey Results: COVID-19 Impact to Banks & Credit Unions, Equips