Saturday, May 25, 2024

Executive News: D-Day, lessons learned

This month marks the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion by Allied forces during the Second World War.

Led by American and British troops, it was and remains the largest invasion by air, land and sea in history.

Photo of Roger M. Beverage
Roger Beverage, OBA President and CEO

More than 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and 150,000 soldiers from the United States, Britain and Canada stormed the Nazi-occupied French beaches of Normandy in a surprise attack at dawn. It was a day that changed the course of history and was the first major step toward the Allies’ victory in May 1945.

Can you imagine being a German soldier stationed on Omaha Beach, just waking up that morning and looking out across the Channel at 5,000-plus ships coming toward him carrying a relentless group of Americans and Brits whose only mission was to kill or capture every single German soldier they could find? Yikes!

According to Wikipedia, “more than 4,000 Allied soldiers, most of them younger than 20-years old, died in the June 6, 1944, invasion. Up to 20,000 French civilians were reportedly killed in the bombings. More than 4,000 German troops died, and ultimately, the invasion is credited with changing the course of the war and ultimately pushing Nazi troops back to Germany.”

So … what does this have to do with banking matters? I thought you might wonder about that. It might be a bit overblown, and for that I apologize in advance. But here’s my response.

The men and women who led the invasion that day showed unparalleled bravery, courage and determination. There was simply no way those young men and women were going to be denied. They kept coming, and coming and coming, wave after wave, without letup. It almost made you feel sorry for the Germans.

A lot was on the line that day and for the months that followed, because it brought forth a new war environment in which the Allies were victorious. It took great courage to see it through to the end, because we’d never done anything like that before.

It’s that kind of courage and determination that smaller banks are going to have to show as the industry begins to move into unchartered waters. You’ll have to have courage to move forward in this new workspace, because you’ve never done anything like that before.

I’m assuming you‘ve heard or read about the so-called Internet of Things, and that’s really what I’m talking about here. I’ve been part of a group recently that’s admittedly remained about one step behind in the process of creating the Fed’s “real-time” payments system. But the vision of that group is really about more than that.

Increased connectivity between all of us comes about because of the introduction and adoption of faster 5G and satellite Internet devices. A new “network” is being created called the Internet of Things, and it will have a tremendous impact on your business.

What’s the reason for that, you may ask? Because more and more payments will be settled in real time, seamlessly, across multiple devices, all of which are connected to the IoT.

According to the ABA, this new system will also result in “more granular data collection by banks and other financial institutions.” In turn, this development will result in even more customization. Ultimately, that means smarter loan decisions and better customer service. It will literally change the way consumers will acquire capital going forward.

The ABA tells us the IoT will transform how banks and other industries will function in the future. It (the IoT) “promises to transform how entire industries function, and banking is no exception. The rise of the ‘wallet of things’ will completely change the way we conceptualize money, payments and banks’ central role in the ecosystem.”

This is where the “courage” part comes in. You‘ll have access to more information than you’ve ever imagined. That information comes directly from the IoT, and it will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

The question before you at that point is simple: What do you do with it? How do you utilize and manage that new information?

You’ll have to find new ways to connect with your customers to preserve your bank’s relationship-based business model. It will take extreme courage to gather this data and use it positively and efficiently to connect with your customers, maintain the bank’s relationship with them and help you and your colleagues better manage credit risks.

Data security will be paramount and its utilization will be even more difficult. Your business model will change. You’ll need to develop new skills to deal with the (different and) evolving landscape. It will all be different than it is now.

Are you ready for that?

Do you have the kind of courage that was on display 75 years ago at Normandy?

There’s no question in my mind: The bankers I work for do.