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Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Archive for the ‘Business Models’ Category

Mullenweg’s Safe Bank Could not just Survive but it could Prosper


When Matt wrote his post the other day about starting a bank it got me thinking about the effect of what he is saying relative to profitability when we introduce a policy to be safe and carry capital reserves of 2 – 3 times more than todays banks.

Assumptions:

– demand deposits = demand loans

– GIC (CD) = Mortgages

– incremental investment in higher returning mortgages is funded from cash

safe bank

Relevance to Bankwatch:

  • A $4 increase in gross profit results in a 15% higher Return on Equity when a lower capital ratio of 10% is accepted.  Note the stock market values ROE over absolute profits.
  • the increase in gross profit is not so much in absolute dollars, especially when we consider the additional risk taken on
  • the relative risk of Regular Bank is exponentially higher with $200 more in loans and $200 less in equity – thats a $400 differential
  • a 12% ($84) loan write down in Safe Bank is absorbed within the $300 capital, leaving them still at a substantial 24% capital ratio versus original 30%.
  • a 12% ($100) write down in Regular Bank eliminates their capital and requires FDIC takeover – THEY ARE GONE!

The basic question then is whether the Regular Bank can make up the absolute dollar shortfall relative to Regular Bank of $4 (20% of Regular Bank gross) by efficient operations, less /no branches etc.

A 20% improvement seems doeable.

This simplistic model is deliberately just that – simple.  It does suggest though that there is an opportunity to consider a different model that will still satisfy shareholders, but also satisfy common sense and a more conservative risk profile.  Which Bank will step up to this model?

Thoughts and critiques from the Basel experts welcome.  Note I ignored cost of capital for this exercise.

Alos here is the spreadsheet.  safe bank Note:  download, save, and change name to safe bank.xls – then you can open in Excel or OpenOffice.

Written by Colin Henderson

August 31, 2009 at 23:51

Conservatives propose radical changes to banking regulation in UK


There are some dramatic proposals contained in the upcoming white paper from the Conservatrive opposition [UK] this week. They make sense and go to the core of the flexibility that allowed banks to become too speculative. They address leverage, and the investment banking/ retail banking integration challenge. The Conservatives are larely expected to win the next election, sometime in the next 12 months.

Tories say break up the big banks | The Times

He will be clear, however, that the Bank should have powers to order banks and other financial institutions to hold more capital when times are good, so that they are well-placed to cope with the losses that arise during downturns.

These counter-cyclical capital requirements, one version of which was the so-called dynamic provisioning used for Spain’s banks, are seen by Mervyn King, the Bank governor, as an essential part of the “macro-prudential” toolkit.

The most controversial part of Osborne’s proposals, however, will be his response to the “too big to fail” problem for banks. He is expected to back King’s view, set out last month, that large and complex banks that combine retail banking with risky investment banking, should either not have their deposits guaranteed by the taxpayer or be discouraged by even larger capital requirements.

Osborne will make clear that he believes some banks were allowed to become too big. He will give the Bank the powers to intervene – and, if necessary, break up – banks whose size and structure threatens financial stability.

Written by Colin Henderson

July 19, 2009 at 00:32

Bank directors to receive formal training and capability assessment


It appears bank boards will be required to go beyond figure head status under upcoming regulation changes in UK.

Sir David Walker to shake up bank boards

The City grandee tasked with reforming corporate governance standards at Britain’s banks will this week set out plans for directors to receive formal training and annual re-election to the boards of financial institutions.

They will also address boardroom composition by stressing that boards need to have a proper balance of experience and understanding of a company’s risk strategy, and suggest that risk committees should be established alongside audit committees to aid risk management processes.

Sir David will also make a recommendation – already being dubbed “the Sir Fred Goodwin rule” by some City observers – that bank boards will need to demonstrate that they are capable of challenging an autocratic chief executive who they believe may be endangering the health of a systemically-important institution.

Written by Colin Henderson

July 12, 2009 at 15:15

Posted in Business Models

Tagged with , ,

Collaboration (1) vs Beaurocracy (0) | Wikipedia & CIA Factbook example


Here is a striking example of the power of collaborative ‘wisdom of crowds’ approach to information preparation, versus traditional top down beaurocratic approach.

I was reading the Obama speech in Ghana, and his references to the current and previous governments, including Jerry Rawlings which rang a history bell for me, so thought I would read up.  First off I checked what used to be my old favourite the CIA factbook, and it has not been updated since sometime before Dec 2008 [note highlight].

On the other hand a quick visit to Wikipedia had more than enough detail being up to date, including information about Obamas trip dd 10th July in the footnotes.  I copied one section from the history area below, and highlighted the notes about the recent election in 2009, something the CIA has not figured out yet apparently.

The efficiency and effectivness of the Wikipedia approach compared to the old style management and approval processes is stark.  [Incidentally, surely the CIA beaurocracy would at least update their site for the countries that their boss is visting?]

In fairness to the CIA it is probably impossible to maintain an up to date encyclopedia type site such as the FactBook within the constraints and context of their mandate.  To open the CIA up to a Wikipedia approach would not make any sense.  I only use this example to display that collaborative and engagement of the broader network wins every time for information dissemination.

CIA Factbook – Ghana

Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Ghana endured a long series of coups before Lt. Jerry RAWLINGS took power in 1981 and banned political parties. After approving a new constitution and restoring multiparty politics in 1992, RAWLINGS won presidential elections in 1992 and 1996, but was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term in 2000. John KUFUOR succeeded him and was reelected in 2004. Kufuor is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in upcoming Presidential elections, which are scheduled for December 2008.

Wikipedia – Ghana

Rawlings soon negotiated a structural adjustment plan with the International Monetary Fund and changed many old radical economic policies; the economy began to recover. A new constitution restoring multi-party politics was promulgated in 1992, and Rawlings was elected as president then and again in 1996 to serve a second term. The Constitution of 1992 prohibited him from running for a third term, so his party, the National Democratic Congress, chose his Vice President, John Atta Mills, to run against the opposition parties. Winning the 2000 elections, John Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party was sworn into office as President in January 2001, and beat Mills again in 2004; thus, also serving two terms as President. In 2009, John Atta Mills took office as president with a difference of about 40,000 votes (0.46%) [23] between his party, the National Democratic Congress, and the New Patriotic Party, marking the second time that power had been transferred from one legitimately elected leader to another, and securing Ghana’s status as a stable democracy.[24]

Written by Colin Henderson

July 11, 2009 at 16:28

“Instead of extracting value, they create it” | Haque


Umair continually presses us to think about new types of corporations that are creating genuine value.  The definition is evolving, and you can check back with his earlier posts about the companies mentioned, but the final sentence in this paragraph is a great objective.

An Open Letter to 20th Century Business | Umair Haque

Who are some of those innovators? We’ve discussed lots of them – Apple, Google, Tata, Threadless. What makes them different is simple. They are more profitable and valuable than rivals because, well, they do stuff that counts. Instead of extracting value, they create it.

Written by Colin Henderson

May 25, 2009 at 20:53

“Even though we were in and looking you still couldn’t see [where the bottom was]” | KKR


Listening to this interview is interesting and sobering for banks. The highlighted quote below tells all.

Henry Kravis and George Roberts (KKR) | FT Interview

FT: How do you see the opportunities that have been thrown up by this incredible dislocation? Is the government a good partner for KKR?

HK: We looked at quite a few of the banks over time and we turned them down because we couldn’t see what was in the banks. Even though we were in and looking you still couldn’t see [where the bottom was]. I think there may be some programmes where it will be appropriate for us to partner with the government. One area in particular that is a very big need and an area where we will have opportunities to participate in is infrastructure.

This goes to the core of what transparency means, and to the business model of banks. i have long maintained that one fundamental negative for many banks remains their lack of investment in effective IT over a sustained period to support their growth in product diversity and merger activity.

The result is that many banks to this day, rely in Excel spreadsheets or locally managed offline databases to analyse and interpret their customer information. And worse … the assessment of holistic customer information is jeapordised because customers can show up in multiple product systems with mutiple information designs making is impossible to fully determine how many products any one customer has with that financial institution.

Relevance to Bankwatch:

it is one thing for KKR to suggest that they are not sure “where the bottom is” in the context of an economy that may be worsening and that may impact on the value of the bank product portfolio. It is quite something else to have doubts based on the value of the information offerred by the banks, and I suspect that is largely what the above quote highlights.

Written by Colin Henderson

May 22, 2009 at 12:24

We will not hear about bricks and clicks after this recession


Deloitte pick up on an interesting characteristic of banks here. Cost cutting occurs during downturns, but its spend spend spend when things are looking good.

Banks rarely get to the point of incremental efficiencies that they note here. Citi are a classic example as noted in the FT this morning.

This fits with the view that this change we are undergoing is not just another blip before we return to business as usual. There is no business as usual coming. The future is smaller, framed in different business models, contains a greater mix of small business, and smaller companies and with retail consumers working harder, longer and for less money.

All this points to realignment of the banks’ models to be more efficient, more effective in customer interaction, and more automated, with much greater reliance on online banking and mobile banking, with less on branch banking.

This time we will not hear about ‘bricks and clicks’ as we did in 2002.

Improving Efficiency: The New High Ground for Banks | Deloitte

The turmoil in the financial markets, coupled with the economic downturn, is fundamentally altering the financial services environment. In this new world, improving operating efficiency has become a competitive necessity. But while financial firms have typically moved quickly to reduce costs when the business cycle is contracting, far too often these efforts have been quickly forgotten when business picks back up.
In this report, we present research conducted by the Deloitte Center for Banking Solutions demonstrating the critical importance of operating efficiency to the fortunes of financial firms. Among the findings is that building efficient operations is not enough — steady, continuous improvement in operating efficiency are required. In fact, banks that have achieved continuous improvements in efficiency have also generally experienced far greater gains in their share prices.

Written by Colin Henderson

May 22, 2009 at 10:59

Implications for banks and the degree of restructure required


Japan continues to lead in terms of making changes to accommodate the current economic climate.  While the English story here is March, the other is dated today.

This is significant for the West in terms of understanding this economic situation is not going to be cured overnight, and when we speak of recovery, its important to consider what recovery means, and how long it might be before we get to return to anything like the economic levels of 2007.

Toyota Cuts Exec Pay, Eliminates Bonuses

AP) Toyota Motor Corp. is reacting to the slump in U.S. auto sales by further cutting North American production, slashing executives’ compensation up to 30 percent and offering buyouts to about 18,000 workers.

夏のボーナス19%減=落ち込み最大、自動車は3割減−経団連調査

Relevance to Bankwatch:

One implication for banking is that a restructuring to accommodate and work within the new economy for the next few years is required.  This requires changes to economic models, cost structures, and imho a fresh look at internet and how it can be levered to develop those models.

Researched by Nobuyo Henderson

Written by Colin Henderson

May 20, 2009 at 18:38

Posted in Business Models, Japan

Where are the bank visionaries when we need them?


As we watch for bank stress test results in the US and other countries efforts to deal with Banks’ asset valuation and capital levels, its useful to keep a track on the economic back drop, and assess the bank’s efforts to address their real problem, which is over-valued assets.

The US stress tests specifically address the impact on banks under certain sets of future assumptions for economic growth and stability.

Spring forecasts 2009-2010 | European commission

The Commission forecasts a sharp contraction of the EU economy by 4% in 2009 (relative to a positive growth of 0.8% in 2008). Almost all EU countries are severely hit by the worsening of the financial crisis, the sharp global downturn and ongoing housing market corrections in some economies. However, with the impact of fiscal and monetary stimulus measures kicking in, growth is expected to regain some momentum in the course of 2010 (annual growth forecast for 2010 stands at -0.1%). Figures are essentially the same for the euro area as for the EU as a whole. These figures represent a significant downward revision compared to the autumn forecast and the interim forecast of January 2009.

spring-forecast-2009-publication15048_en [pdf]

So far the news is not good.  We have US, Japan, and now EU all noting significant downward adjustments to their forecast for 2009.  Magically, they all seem to agree 2010 will be just fine.  2010 aside, the consensus for the big three are 2009 GDP drops in the 4 % – 6+ % range.

Here is an extract of the baseline forecasts used by the Stress tests, contained in their methodology document for SCAP (Supervisory Capital Assessment Progam).

SCAP Economic Assumptions

The short view is that the assumptions for GDP growth in 2009 are approximately 1/3 of the latest forecasts.  Put another way 2009 is going to be 3 times worse than the forecast used in SCAP.   This is only May, so one can only assume that on a probability scale the opportunity for additional downward revisions are as possible as any other prediction at this stage.

The debate amongst BofA, Citi and the government on whether they ought to raise $5Bn in capital is ridiculous, and counterproductive.  As the economic forecasts show, the amounts required are not going to be debated in the $1 Bn range – this needs vision that produces 10’s or 100’s of billion in improvement such that the organisation can leap ahead of the economic crisis and look out 10 years, not 1 month, which seems to me to be the current landscape for banks.

Incidentally, to place $5Bn in perspective, Merrill Lynch paid out $3.6 bn in bonuses at the end of 2008.  Geithner should not even take a phone call from any bank who wishes to discuss anything thats less than $20 bn.  A debate over $5bn is ludicrous.

All this to say, that banks are stuck in a classic rat hole and surrounded.  Which bank and which leader will step up with vision for the future that carries banks on beyond 2011?

Relevance to Bankwatch:

Banks need to take a leaf out of Sergio Marchionne, Fiat chief executive’s book.  He is in Germany this morning proposing a deal that will take advantage of the current climate, and look to take advantage of infrastructure provided by Vauxhall, Chrysler, Opel and Fiat to structure an effective platform around car types that consumers actually want and need, ie smaller, cheaper and more efficient.  Already he is getting positive reaction to his plan, and these meetings only took place today (Monday).

He hopes to complete the transaction by the end of May, and list shares of the new company, tentatively called Fiat/Opel, by the end of the summer.

Mr Marchionne said Fiat and Opel would reap synergies of €1bn a year by merging their small B and midsize C segment car platforms, and absorbing Fiat’s ultra-small A platform and Opel’s upper-middle D platform.

Note the timing – he is going to do this in one month. This new conglomorate will involve hard decisions and layoffs.  This is the hard reality of the adjustment required for the new economy.  Getting through the crisis is not a return to 2007.  It is a fundamental shift to a smaller and different economy.

Where are the bank visionaries now?  Are they becoming so bogged down worrying about beaurocratic discussions with their new government masters and defending bonuses and perks that they have lost sight of the real goal?

Written by Colin Henderson

May 4, 2009 at 09:09

What does recovery mean for Banks?


Banks are at the centre of the economy.  Business and consumers conduct their day to day business using money and they do this through banks.  Stating the obvious you may say?  This is why I study the economy so closely and try to understand how it will look in the future, because that has a direct relation to how banks will look in that future.

We are in a crisis of debt.  It is a debt crisis because consumers and businesses are over-leveraged.  Their debt is too high relative to todays asset values.  Asset values have decreased by 25 – 60% in the West, whereas debt has reduced only minimally.

So what do we see around us that offer substantive clues to our near term future for banks?

  • US economy reducing at annual rate of 6.1% – this has to be contrasted to growth rates of 2 – 3% pre crisis, so thats an almost 10% shift being experieinced
  • Lithuania today seeing a 12% reduction in its economy
  • Germany seeing 5% – 6% and talk of rioting on the streets, which of course will do no good except create panic
  • Citibank and Bank of America today finally wisening up to the reality that they cannot grow out of their leveraged position – they must contract out of it by selling stuff
  • corporate jets becoming an embarrassment rather than a status symbol
  • Allens & Overy (lawyers in the City) introducing a ‘cull’ of 10%
  • 80 – 100% growth in managerial and professional unemployment (UK)
  • General Motors in Canada cutting dealerships from 794 down to 400 – 400 within one year

These headlines are all point in one direction.  Less is the new reality.  No-one knows precisely where the new balance will level off, but it is certainly going to be at a level less thn we saw at the peak in 2007.

A smaller economic base results in less of many other things that probably still have to happen;  less restaurants, real estate agents, accountants, grocery stores, plumbers, construction workers, and of course bankers and banks.

Relevance to Bankwatch:

Operating in this new environement will require new thinking and recognition of new opportunities.  This will be the time (for banks) to not just accept internet but to insist on internet as a core component of the business to drive efficiencies.  It will require fresh looks at old ideas that were squandered away and hidden by the excesses of the good times, eg:

  • # of branches required?
  • style of branches required- which services will be offerred?
  • what is the the role of tellers in the new operating model?
  • is it time to eliminate cheques ?
  • is it time to bring commercial banking into the and up to the same degree of automation as consumer banking?
  • Why is business banking still being done by cheques and deposit books?
  • What is the role of Head Office?  How many are required to invent bank accounts, mortgages and loans?

In a smaller and more efficient world, new competitors will be prodding away at banks’ business model.  I watched many of the presentations yesterday at FinovateStartup09 and was struck by how they all in some way chipped away a part of banking from banks.  Whether it is Tempo and their de-coupled debit card, or Wesabe and Micronotes pro-actively helping consumers spend wisely, or Prosper and Lending Club introducing “Securitization 2.0′ (online secondary markets with clear line of sight between debtor and creditor),  the coming of Web 3.0 is imminent and in a form that banks may not expect nor be prepared for unless they act now.

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