Ides of Finance: I come to nationalize banks, not to bury them

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

March was the 1st month of the Roman calendar. The Caesars, Julius and Augustus, were honored with the naming rights to July and August relegating October (#8), November (#9) and December (#10) to their current slots of 10, 11 and 12 in the lunar batting order. Unquenchable ego, sloppy derivatives and hapless government intervention pre-dates the year 0.

Julius Caesar sword

As I prepare for a banking conference presentation (feel free to add your own punch line), I observe the following which could be extrapolated to a variety of industries: media, telecom, retail, transportation.

Bank of the Future predicitons: let’s keep copies of these in the files along with our stash of ‘companies long-gone’ memorabilia.  IMO, banking in 5 years will be ubiquitously mobile, provided by highly trusted and broadly recommended sources (other customers) and regional in size and behavior.  

– Bank branches are models of the ‘way it used to be.’  Going someplace so that someone else can enter some data into a computer is nearly completely anachronistic anyway.  And espresso machines and elaborate video presentations won’t entice many desirable customers.  The financial disaster of today is good news for the Mint.coms, peer to peer lenders, Pay Pals and atypical financial services entities of the future.

– I still contend that the Apple Store and IKEA are examples of what a bank should be.  IKEA opened a store near Charlotte, North Carolina recently and people camped-out to be among the first through the doors. Customers want to belong to something not transact somewhere.

– When the dust and smoke of the financial crisis clears, Google and China will retain their respective dominant positions as the more creative and the lowest cost producers, sharing the title of Best Capitalized.  Now is the time to prepare for resumption of the related global competition.

– Things aren’t as foregone globally or even locally as one is stampeded into believing. 80{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd}+ of the equivalent value of the stock market is on the sidelines, in cash, awaiting market stability.  I envision this being like the starting line of the Oklahoma Land Rush.  Every loud noise sends the ‘Sooners’ out 150 points or so.  Do you add value?  Can I trust you?  Will I be associating with people like me? are questions to which every type of Financial Institution will have to answer ‘yes’ merely to earn the right to join the customer-rush line-up.

– There are plenty of technically savvy, motivated and conscientious younger people out there (gen whatever, doesn’t matter).  They want to make a difference and are willing make to personal and professional investments 
before they reap attendant rewards (they elected a president, after all). Successful enterprises of the future will modernize the descriptions of their business challenges so that this talent generation can participate.

Some days I wonder what is in store for my teenaged sons over the next 30 years. Every day I wish that I was 30 years younger to be find out with them. Welcome to March.  In like a lamb, out like a lion?