Strength in Matchsticks

Article excerpt

Everyone nods when speakers promote industry unity. Working together makes sense. Unfortunately, the emotional pull of "We're different" can overpower the intellectual argument, at least for a time.

A good counter to that pull is experience--seeing first-hand that unity and cooperation work while butting heads doesn't.

Also useful is seeing how, despite differences, people can have much in common. ABA's "Decoding the future of banking" panel at its recent Annual Convention was an excellent example of this. The three banks represented couldn't have been more different. They ranged from $70 million First National Bank of Kansas to $269 billion PNC Financial Services, with USAA FSB somewhere between the two. Yet the views and concerns of the three executives who participated were remarkably similar (see Bank Notes, p. 10).

Each had different strategies, yes, but all three were facing many of the same issues. Among them: an onslaught of regulations, excess liquidity, and the need to grow revenue. Not every challenge requires (or allows) a coordinated response. But when it comes to dealing with laws, regulations, and accounting rules, or the perception of the industry in the media, a response from a group that is both large and diverse carries more weight than a narrowly-based response. And it's 100 times more effective than conflicting responses.

The trick, of course, is how to get strong-minded individuals to agree on a common goal.

The solution is simple in principle: Set aside your differences in the interest of the common good. That's what ABA is all about. …