Change Management People are the most difficult part of any transition and this is where change management is critical.
Denise: The people part is the toughest part. Change is extremely tough. Worries about do I have a job or not. We do employee due diligence, let them know who is staying on , who is being let go, and we do
change management training for each segment. Some that are offered positions stay and some leave on their own as they worry about change. As a manager you can’t take it personally.
Cultural & Philosophical differences (Difference in Credit Culture (risk based or relationship based), Regional or Philosophical)
Cathy Towne has a very unique culture and it would be good to hear how you get everyone on board.
Cathy – Client to Member transition Denise I believe you’ve experienced all of these recently.
Denise: differences are both perceived as bad and good, Small Bank versus Big Bank, central underwriting and decision making, I like doing things the way I have always done them, change is very hard especially when it’s not their decision
Cathy – fear of unknown. Buddy system of seasoned employees through conversion.
Minimize client interruption – how do you go through all the changes, while making sure that clients are not negatively impacted
Denise: communication is key – internally and externally. Our customer document mailing is 52 pages long. Covers any and all questions that are likely to come up. We try to keep as much of the customer information as possible such as loan number or deposit account numbers and we map so that we keep as much of that as possible. Doesn’t always work but we do our best. For those times when we do see customer complaints or interruption we have extra staffing on for months after conversion to help deal with customer confusion and questions. Cathy Testing/Consistancy Welcome letter
Portfolio Makeup/New Different offerings Denise, specialty lending and some of the new product set challenges you’re facing
Denise: every mergers offers something new to learn: example most recent is aircraft lending. Something new to our Bank and we needed to vet it out and create new policy, procedures, systems, etc. One merger was a “niche” lender and totally different than our traditional lending. Same thing had to create new policy, procedure and thought process for Bank. Takes a lot of time and energy.
Cathy ; look at products and integrate to grow each
Cathy: centralization / dual brand
Regulatory Challenges (this could be different offerings, regulatory bodies, regional regs, as well as a change in asset size)
Denise: we have a compliance team that is very much involved in merger and acquisition. They ensure that all new staffing is on board with the Bank policy, procedure, regulations, etc through online and in person mandatory training. The Bank is now over $10MM which brings us into an entire new set of government regulation and compliance.
Cathy : ceiling rates lower in NC, docs are different typically charter the same
Brand integration – how do you integrate your brand into the acquired bank, or are there times when they need to keep their own identity . Does name recognition play a part?
Denise: Brand recognition is critical. It’s different with each merger. We try to keep some of the name if possible, and keep it a division of Berkshire Bank or a subsidiary if we can. This usually only lasts for a short term until that region recognizes Berkshire Bank.
Cathy: too many aquitions in new market . Run commercials specific to that market. New account numbers.
Technology considerations – Is this a decision made pre-merger, are all systems evaluated before making a choice, or do you go with whatever the lead bank is doing.
Denise: Generally lead bank trumps for systems. We do look at every department and every technology item – discuss in detail what it does, what the cost is, what’s the contract entail, and then try to match it to something the Bank has that is similar in nature. For the most part all systems are lead bank.
Vendor management – how do you handing conflicting vendor contracts, especially with time constraints or financial penalties. Negotiation, budgeting, SLAs
Denise: we review each and every contract, assign them out by department and they are responsible for handling notice of cancellation and negotiation of penalties and fees. The Bank adds dollars to its cost of purchase for these and it’s a regular part of conversion.
Cathy: contract costs to terminate – let maintain current network system and sunset over time.
Biggest lesson learned – Denise I realize this has been your life for a while so you could probably fill up an entire day, but if we could try to make around three each.
Denise: people don’t like change, you are likely to lose good people, take the time to learn best practices