Internet Banking: Relevance in a Changing World

Surprising, but true – Internet-based activity is not the preserve of the young “digital native” generation alone. A 2008 survey says that Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1976) uses Internet banking significantly more than any other demographic segment, with two thirds of Internet users in this age group banking online.

Gen X users have also professed their preference for applications such as Facebook, to share, connect and be part of a larger community.

This is some irony in this, since online banking, as we know it today, offers minimal interactivity. Unlike in a branch, where the comfort of two way interaction facilitates the consummation of a variety of transactions, the one way street of e-banking has only managed to enable the more routine tasks, such as balance inquiry or funds transfer.

It’s not hard to put two and two together. A clear opportunity exists for banks that can transform today’s passive Internet banking offering into one that provides a more widespread and interactive customer experience.

It is therefore imperative that banks transform their online offering, such that it matches the new expectations of customers. Moreover, Internet banking must journey to popular online customer hangouts, rather than wait for customers to come to it.

There are clear indications that the shift towards a “next generation” online banking environment has already been set in motion. It is only a matter of time before these trends become the norm.

Leveraging of Social Networks

Forward thinking banks are leveraging existing social networks on external sites to increase their visibility among interested groups. They are also deploying social software technology on their own sites to engage the same communities in two way discussions. Thus, their Internet banking has assumed a more pervasive persona – customers are engaging with the bank, along with its products and services even when they’re not actually transacting online.

Heightened visibility apart, banks can gain tremendous customer insight from such unstructured, informal interactions. For example, a discussion on the uncertain financial future among a group of 18 to 25 years old could be a signal to banks to offer long term investment products to a segment that was previously not considered a target. Going one step further, a positive buzz around a newly launched service can create valuable word-of-mouth advertising for the business.

Collaborating through Web 2.0

The collaborative aspect of Web 2.0 applications has enabled banks to draw customers inside their fold more than ever before. Traditional methods such as focus group discussions or market research suffer from the disadvantages of high cost, limited scope and potential to introduce bias. Feedback forms merely serve as a post-mortem. In contrast, Web 2.0 has the ability to carry a vast audience along right from the start, and continue to do so perpetually. Thus, an interested community of prospects and customers participate in co-creating products and services which can fulfill their expectations.

The pervasiveness of Web 2.0 enables delivery of e-banking across multiple online locations and web-based gadgets such as Yahoo!Widgets, Windows Live or the iPhone. This means next generation online banking customers will enjoy heightened access and convenience

A New York based firm of analysts found that 15% of the 70 banks tracked by them had adopted Web 2.0, a number of them having done so within the last 12 months.

Standard Chartered Bank employees connect with their colleagues through Facebook and use the platform to share knowledge, clarify questions and participate in discussions on ongoing company activities.

Bank of America, Wachovia Bank and Commonwealth Credit Union have built a presence within interactive media to create awareness and keep up a dialogue with interested communities. They have employed a variety of methods, ranging from creating YouTube communities to launching campaigns on Current TV, a channel in which viewers determine content.

Personalization of Online Banking

Vanilla e-banking divides customers into very large, heterogeneous groups – typically, corporate, retail or SME, with one type of Internet banking page for each. That’s in sharp contradiction to how banking organizations would like to view their clientele. Banks are moving towards customer-specificity, almost viewing each client as a “segment of one”, across other channels, and online banking is set to follow suit. For instance, a specific home page for home loan customers and another for private banking clients could well be a possibility in future.

Interestingly, National Bank of Kuwait had the foresight to do this several years ago – they enabled customers to determine which products they would view and access, and were rewarded with a dramatic increase in online transactions.

Money Monitor from Yes Bank allows customers to choose their landing page – for example, they can set “all transactions”, “net worth” or “portfolio” as their default view. Other features include the ability to categories transactions as per customers’ convenience and the printing of custom reports.

Empowerment Online

Beyond doubt, Internet banking has created a more informed, empowered class of customers. This is set to climb to the next level once customers are allowed to proactively participate in many more transaction-related processes. The Internet has already made it possible for customers to compare product loan offerings, simulate financial scenarios and design custom retirement portfolios. Going forward, they would be able to consummate related transactions – which means, after comparing interest rates, they could originate a loan online, and once secured, they can begin to repay it online as well.


The emergence of Web 2.0 technology coupled with banks’ desire to personalize their e-banking to the highest degree is likely to result in “portalization” of Internet banking. The idea of banking customers being able to create their own spaces online, filled with all that is relevant to them, is not that far-fetched. Customers can personalize their Internet banking page to reflect the positions of multiple accounts across different banks; they could include their credit card information, subscribe to their favorite financial news, consolidate their physical assets position, share their experiences with a group and do more – all from one “place”.

Money Monitor enables customers to add multiple “accounts” (from a choice of 9,000) to their page. Accounts could be savings or loan accounts with major Indian banks, or those with utilities providers, credit card companies, brokerage firms and even frequent flyer programs. Users can customize their pages as described earlier.

As banks seek to develop their Internet banking vision for the future, in parallel, they will also need to address the key issues of security and “due defense”. While it is every marketer’s dream to have customers work as ambassadors, adequate precaution must be taken to prevent the proliferation of malicious or spurious publicity. Therefore, before an individual is allowed to participate in a networking forum, he or she must have built up a favorable track record with the bank. The individual must be a recognized customer of the bank, having used a minimum number of products over a reasonable length of time. Qualitative information about the person’s interaction with the bank’s support staff (for example frequency and type of calls made to their call center, outcome of such interaction and so on) may be invaluable in profiling the “right” type of customer who can be recruited as a possible advocate.

Collaborative Web 2.0 applications may necessitate opening up banks’ websites to outside technology and information exchange with third party sites, raising the spectre of data and infrastructure security. A robust mechanism of checks and balances must be built to ensure that the third party sites are secure, appropriately certified and pose no threat to the home banks’ sites. Likewise, before a third party widget is allowed to be brought on to a site, it must have passed through stringent security control.

Due diligence must be exercised before permitting users to place a link to another site to guard against the possibility of inadvertent download of malicious software, which could, in the worst case, even result in phishing originating from the banks’ sites.

It is equally important for a bank to guard its customers against invasion of privacy, data theft or misuse. The concept of portalization envisages deploying technology to bring information from other banks’ or financial service providers’ websites into the home bank’s site. The home bank must ensure that its customers’ personal or transaction related information, which may be shared with the other providers, is not susceptible to leakage or outright misuse.

Banks will do well to partner with an Internet banking solution provider which has not only the expertise to translate their vision into a cutting edge e-banking experience for the user, but also the foresight to define boundaries for safety. With security concerns adequately addressed, next generation Internet banking is full of exciting possibilities. Banks that seize the opportunity may find that Internet banking can become a means of differentiating themselves from competitors, rather than a mere cost cutting tool. Clearly, providing a more powerful and interactive e-banking experience, is the way forward.

Income Tax Preparation Courses

The benefit of taking a income tax preparation course are more than knowledgeably preparing tax returns. Taxes for the majority of the population are one great big puzzle. Or to quote Albert Einstein “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” This is coming from a man with a deep understanding of quantum physics, so if you are not tax savvy at all you shouldn’t feel too bad about it. Not only will you be able to solve the tax return preparation puzzle for yourself others will pay you to do the same for them.

Tax preparer training is for people who share the sentiments uttered by Einstein. They can teach anybody about State and Federal Taxation and make even the most complicated of tax related subjects seem like child’s play. A income tax preparation course like this is developed strategically in sections, helping students better grasp everything that they need to know about Federal Individual Income Tax statutes and laws. Those who finish the course can become official tax consultants, and be paid for their extensive tax knowledge.

Specialized tax-training institutes provide such courses as do many national tax preparers like Jackson Hewitt, H&R Block and others. Many of these tax training institutes feature national accreditation. Even though you can find a course near where you live or work, almost all institutes offer online education facilities or correspondence tax courses for your convenience. This helps you complete the course without spending extra time, energy or money traveling to and from classes.

The tax courses are set up for both the beginner and advanced economic student. For beginners, tax classes start from the basic of tax return preparation and gradually progress to more advanced topics. This helps the novices learn the full range from the basics to complex tax issues. The topics related to current events and issues are especially important, and so are important parts of any well rounded tax student’s learning experience. The end result is you are equipped to start your own successful practice, or take a well-placed service preparing tax returns in a tax preparation or an accounting firm

Here are a few topics you can expect to find included in a given tax course:

Itemizing deductions

Computing taxes and methods of doing so

Capital gains taxes and capital losses

Business and non-business related deductions

Exemptions and filing statuses



Income tax withholding

Business losses

Casualty losses

Payroll taxes

Estimated taxes

Gross income and items included in it.

Tax courses are offered in different places and different packages so that people can work at their own pace. Most people can get them in six week slots if they really need to, although twelve and eighteen week classes are also available. The seminars may vary in length from six to eighteen hours. Most of the tax preparation programs also feature on the job training in taxation and broad coverage of tax topics in the first year.

If you are lucky, your training in tax preparation will open doors, giving you experience that you can use in the world of tax careers. A simple search on the internet should allow you to find courses being offered in tax preparation classes online and in your area. It will be even better, if you can go through the curriculum details, to ensure all the necessary topics are included in the course.

So, if you decide to solve the tax puzzle for yourself that’s great. But you will have a majority of the population that will not possess your knowledge and understanding of tax taxes who will gladly pay a tax preparation fee to not have to deal with the headache of trying to figure it out. In the end you benefit with knowledge you can use personally and for a career or business when you take a income tax preparation course.

How to Make Fast Money

Do you want to make fast money? Are you interested to make money working from home? This page would help you out to make money fast and easy through the strategies this article will provide to you. Trust me, many people have proven themselves because they began learning how to make money fast and had to step up doing it.

First and foremost, you should have the interest to write articles of different topics and categories. The web has lots of information related to articles, essays, eBooks and reports. You could use that as reference in writing web content articles.

There are thousands of websites for writers that can provide you to make cash online. By writing for several hours a day, you could easily make money on internet. In other words, writing online is one of the make money ideas available you could do at home. Learn how to earn money by writing as many articles as you can. Wait for several months and you could make lots of money fast.

Go to popular blog sites and sign up. Don’t worry because registering accounts and submitting articles are free. However, if you want to make money quick, it’s better to create your own websites. It is the fast way to make money because there are more easy things you could do to monetize your sites.

When one of your websites is ranked number 1 on major search engines like Google, you can make extra cash through that. Achieving that is very easy. You only need to have a large number of traffic.

Another idea you could add if you have websites is the use of Google AdSense. This is an ad program that helps you make fast money. Let the AdSense make money while you are away from the computer, sleeping, having a break or a long vacation. AdSense works when the Google ads on your web pages are clicked. To have the assurance, let someone click on the ads of you sites and make money.

Writing doesn’t end there. You need to distribute your articles to blog directory sites. It’s another strategy you could easily do on how to make lots of money fast. Build backlinks through keywords which would link to your main sites and redirect viewers to your main websites. Isn’t that very simple? Yes, it is very simple and it will help you make fast money online.

Next, you could also do some affiliation with online businessmen. With the use of promoting or selling products, you can make money on the internet. You could also sell your own products if you want. Try selling some items on eBay and you will earn money. This money making idea also applies when you have your own websites. You get money from the number of traffic plus the amount of items sold. It could be a good way to make fast money or quick money. If you don’t have any items, you could just simply become an affiliate to others who sell products and services. It is still a chance to make money easy because you get about 75% commission of sale.

Affiliate marketing is an avenue you could do to make fast money. As the internet continues to become the fastest and quickest source of great ideas to make cash online, then you should start making money fast by doing this strategy.

One of the easiest tasks to get rich is through PPC. PPC is Pay-per-click which lets you click ads on the web and make fast easy money. It is a very easy job everyone can do to make money at home.

There are some people who will hire people to do some PPC task because this will help their websites bloom. For the people who click ads, it’s another way of making money fast for them. Like I’ve said, it’s one of easiest way you could learn on how to make money online. Yes, you will be really making money out of this.

Free online surveys are another easy way to make fast money. By answering few questions, you could make fast money. You could enjoy doing this to earn money because you are only going to give your own opinion and ideas.

Easy money is definitely a goal by everybody. If you have that dream, make sure to do the money making strategies this page have provided for you. Those are great ideas to make big money fast. Be flexible and have the determination if you are really interested to make fast money. Who knows, you might just be doing extra money later on.

Those are the quickest and easiest ways to apply on how to make money and how to make cash fast. If you start right away, you could not surely stop doing. Instead, you make money online every day. If you want to make money now, start doing it. Remember to make extra money, too, because extra tasks are the secret on how to gain money fast. Don’t wait and make fast money now!

Understanding the Home Loan Application and Mortgage Approval – The Mortgage Lender Analysis

Do You Pass The Mortgage Lender Analysis? When a mortgage lender reviews a real estate loan application, the primary concern for both home loan applicant, the buyer, and the mortgage lender is to approve loan requests that show high probability of being repaid in full and on time, and to disapprove requests that are likely to result in default and eventual foreclose. How is the mortgage lenders decision made?

The mortgage lender begins the loan analysis procedure by looking at the property and the proposed financing. Using the property address and legal description, an appraiser is assigned to prepare an appraisal of the property and a title search is ordered. These steps are taken to determine the fair market value of the property and the condition of title. In the event of default, this is the collateral the lender must fall back upon to recover the loan. If the loan request is in connection with a purchase, rather than the refinancing of an existing property, the mortgage lender will know the purchase price. As a rule, home loans are made on the basis of the appraised value or purchase price, whichever is lower. If the appraised value is lower than the purchase price, the usual procedure is to require the buyer to make a larger cash down payment. The mortgage lender does not want to over-loan simply because the buyer overpaid for the property.

The year the home was built is useful in setting the loan’s maturity date. The idea is that the length of the home loan should not outlast the remaining economic life of the structure serving as collateral. Note however, chronological age is only part of this decision because age must be considered in light of the upkeep and repair of the structure and its construction quality.

Loan-to-Value Ratios

The mortgage lender next looks at the amount of down payment the borrower proposes to make, the size of the loan being requested and the amount of other financing the borrower plans to use. This information is then converted into loan-to-value ratios. As a rule, the more money the borrower places into the deal, the safer the loan is for the mortgage lender. On an uninsured home loan, the ideal loan-to-value ratio for a lender on owner-occupied residential property is 70% or less. This means the value of the property would have to fall more than 30% before the debt owed would exceed the property’s value, thus encouraging the borrower to stop making mortgage loan payments. Because of the nearly constant inflation in housing prices since the 40s, very few residential properties have fallen 30% or more in value.

Loan-to-value ratios from 70% through 80% are considered acceptable but do expose the mortgage lender to more risk. Lenders sometimes compensate by charging slightly higher interest rates. Loan-to-value ratios above 80% present even more risk of default to the lender, and the lender will either increase the interest rate charged on these home loans or require that an outside insurer, such as FHA or a private mortgage insurer, be supplied by the borrower.

Mortgage Closing Settlement Funds

The lender then wants to know if the borrower has adequate funds for settlement (the closing). Are these funds presently in a checking or savings account, or are they coming from the sale of the borrower’s present real estate property? In the latter case, the mortgage lender knows the present loan is contingent on another closing. If the down payment and settlement funds are to be borrowed, then the lender will want to be extra cautious as experience has shown that the less of his own money a borrower puts into a purchase, the higher the probability of default and foreclosure.

Purpose Of Mortgage Loan

The lender is also interested in the proposed use of the property. Mortgage lenders feel most comfortable when a home loan is for the purchase or improvement of a property the loan applicant will actually occupy. This is because owner-occupants usually have pride-of-ownership in maintaining their property and even during bad economic conditions will continue to make the monthly payments. An owner-occupant also realizes that if he/she stops paying, they will have to vacate and pay for shelter elsewhere.

If the home loan applicant intends to purchase a dwelling to rent out as an investment, the lender will be more cautious. This is because during periods of high vacancy, the property may not generate enough income to meet the loan payments. At that point, a strapped-for-cash borrower is likely to default. Note too, that lenders generally avoid loans secured by purely speculative real estate. If the value of the property drops below the amount owed, the borrower may see no further logic in making the loan payments.

Lastly the mortgage lender assesses the borrower’s attitude toward the proposed loan. A casual attitude, such as “I’m buying because real estate always goes up,” or an applicant who does not appear to understand the obligation he is undertaking would bring low rating here. Much more welcome is the home loan applicant who shows a mature attitude and understanding of the mortgage loan obligation and who exhibits a strong and logical desire for ownership.

The Borrower Analysis

The next step is the mortgage lender to begin an analysis of the borrower, and if there is one, the co-borrower. At one time, age, sex and marital status played an important role in the lender’s decision to lend or not to lend. Often the young and the old had trouble getting home loans, as did women and persons who were single, divorced, or widowed. Today, the Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits discrimination based on age, sex, race and marital status. Mortgage lenders are no longer permitted to discount income earned by women even if it is from part-time jobs or because the woman is of child-bearing age. Of the home applicant chooses to disclose it, alimony, separate maintenance, and child support must be counted in full. Young adults and single persons cannot be turned down because the lender feels they have not “put down roots.” Seniors cannot be turned down as long as life expectancy exceeds the early risk period of the loan and collateral is adequate. In other words, the emphasis in borrower analysis is now focused on job stability, income adequacy, net worth and credit rating.

Mortgage lenders will ask questions directed at how long the applicants have held their present jobs and the stability of those jobs themselves. The lender recognizes that loan repayment will be a regular monthly requirement and wishes to make certain the applicants have a regular monthly inflow of cash in a large enough quantity to meet the mortgage loan payment as well as their other living expenses. Thus, an applicant who possesses marketable job skills and has been regularly employed with a stable employer is considered the ideal risk. Persons whose income can rise and fall erratically, such as commissioned salespersons, present greater risk. Persons whose skills (or lack of skills) or lack of job seniority result in frequent unemployment are more likely to have difficulty repaying a home loan. The mortgage lender also inquires as to the number of dependents the applicant must support out of his or her income. This information provides some insight as to how much will be left for monthly house payments.

Home Loan Applicants’ Monthly Income

The lender looks at the amount and sources of the applicants’ income. Sheer quantity alone is not enough for home loan approval; the income sources must be stable too. Thus a lender will look carefully at overtime, bonus and commission income in order to estimate the levels at which these may reasonably be expected to continue. Interest, dividend and rental income would be considered in light of the stability of their sources also. Under the “other income” category, income from alimony, child support, social security, retirement pensions, public assistance, etc. is entered and added to the totals for the applicants.

The lender then compares what the applicants have been paying for housing with what they will be paying if the loan is approved. Included in the proposed housing expense total are principal, interest, taxes and insurance along with any assessments or homeowner association dues (such as in a condominium or town-homes). Some mortgage lenders add the monthly cost of utilities to this list.

A proposed monthly housing expense is compared to gross monthly income. A general rule of thumb is that monthly housing expense (PITI) should not exceed 25% to 30% of gross monthly income. A second guideline is that total fixed monthly expenses should not exceed 33% to 38% of income. This includes housing payments plus automobile payments, installment loan payments, alimony, child support, and investments with negative cash flows. These are general guidelines, but mortgage lenders recognize that food, health care, clothing, transportation, entertainment and income taxes must also come from the applicants’ income.

Liabilities and Assets

The lender is interested in the applicants’ sources of funds for closing and whether, once the loan is granted, the applicants have assets to fall back upon in the event of an income decrease (a job lay-off) or unexpected expenses such as hospital bills. Of particular interest is the portion of those assets that are in cash or are readily convertible into cash in a few days. These are called liquid assets. If income drops, they are much more useful in meeting living expenses and mortgage loan payments than assets that may require months to sell and convert to cash; that is, assets which are illiquid.

A mortgage lender also considers two values for life insurance holders. Cash value is the amount of money the policyholder would receive if he surrendered his/her policy or, alternatively, the amount he/she could borrow against the policy. Face amount is the amount that would be paid in the event of the insured’s death. Mortgage lenders feel most comfortable if the face amount of the policy equals or exceeds the amount of the proposed home loan. Less satisfactory are amounts less than the proposed loan or none at all. Obviously a borrower’s death is not anticipated before the loan is repaid, but lenders recognize that its possibility increases the probability of default. The likelihood of foreclosure is lessened considerably if the survivors receive life insurance benefits.

A lender is interested in the applicants’ existing debts and liabilities for two reasons. First, these items will compete each month against housing expenses for available monthly income. Thus high monthly payments may reduce the size of the loan the lender calculates that the applicants will be able to repay. The presence of monthly liabilities is not all negative: it can also show the mortgage lender that the applicants are capable of repaying their debts. Second, the mortgage applicants’ total debts are subtracted from their total assets to obtain their net worth. If the result is negative (more owed than owned), the mortgage loan request will probably be turned down as too risky. In contrast, a substantial net worth can often offset weaknesses elsewhere in the application, such as too little monthly income in relation to monthly housing expense.

Past Credit Record

Lenders examine the applicants’ past record of debt repayment as an indicator of the future. A credit report that shows no derogatory information is most desirable. Applicants with no previous credit experience will have more weight placed on income and employment history. Applicants with a history of collections, adverse judgments or bankruptcy within the past three years will have to convince the lender that this mortgage loan will be repaid on time. Additionally, the applicants may be considered poorer risks if they have guaranteed the repayment of someone else debt by acting as a co-maker or endorser. Lastly, the lender may take into consideration whether the applicants have adequate insurance protection in the event of major medical expenses or a disability that prevents returning to work.

When a mortgage lender will not provide a loan on a property, one must seek alternative sources of financing or lose the right to purchase the home.

Eastern European Banking Model

A traditional banking model in a CEEC (Central and Eastern European Country) consisted of a central bank and several purpose banks, one dealing with individuals’ savings and other banking needs, and another focusing on foreign financial activities, etc. The central bank provided most of the commercial banking needs of enterprises in addition to other functions. During the late 1980s, the CEECs modified this earlier structure by taking all the commercial banking activities of the central bank and transferring them to new commercial banks. In most countries the new banks were set up along industry lines, although in Poland a regional approach has been adopted.

On the whole, these new stale-owned commercial banks controlled the bulk of financial transactions, although a few ‘de novo banks’ were allowed in Hungary and Poland. Simply transferring existing loans from the central bank to the new state-owned commercial banks had its problems, since it involved transferring both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ assets. Moreover, each bank’s portfolio was restricted to the enterprise and industry assigned to them and they were not allowed to deal with other enterprises outside their remit.

As the central banks would always ‘bale out’ troubled state enterprises, these commercial banks cannot play the same role as commercial banks in the West. CEEC commercial banks cannot foreclose on a debt. If a firm did not wish to pay, the state-owned enterprise would, historically, receive further finance to cover its difficulties, it was a very rare occurrence for a bank to bring about the bankruptcy of a firm. In other words, state-owned enterprises were not allowed to go bankrupt, primarily because it would have affected the commercial banks, balance sheets, but more importantly, the rise in unemployment that would follow might have had high political costs.

What was needed was for commercial banks to have their balance sheets ‘cleaned up’, perhaps by the government purchasing their bad loans with long-term bonds. Adopting Western accounting procedures might also benefit the new commercial banks.

This picture of state-controlled commercial banks has begun to change during the mid to late 1990s as the CEECs began to appreciate that the move towards market-based economies required a vibrant commercial banking sector. There are still a number of issues lo be addressed in this sector, however. For example, in the Czech Republic the government has promised to privatize the banking sector beginning in 1998. Currently the banking sector suffers from a number of weaknesses. A number of the smaller hanks appear to be facing difficulties as money market competition picks up, highlighting their tinder-capitalization and the greater amount of higher-risk business in which they are involved. There have also been issues concerning banking sector regulation and the control mechanisms that are available. This has resulted in the government’s proposal for an independent securities commission to regulate capital markets.

The privatization package for the Czech Republic’s four largest banks, which currently control about 60 percent of the sector’s assets, will also allow foreign banks into a highly developed market where their influence has been marginal until now. It is anticipated that each of the four banks will be sold to a single bidder in an attempt to create a regional hub of a foreign bank’s network. One problem with all four banks is that inspection of their balance sheets may throw up problems which could reduce the size of any bid. All four banks have at least 20 percent of their loans as classified, where no interest has been paid for 30 days or more. Banks could make provisions to reduce these loans by collateral held against them, but in some cases the loans exceed the collateral. Moreover, getting an accurate picture of the value of the collateral is difficult since bankruptcy legislation is ineffective. The ability to write off these bad debts was not permitted until 1996, but even if this route is taken then this will eat into the banks’ assets, leaving them very close to the lower limit of 8 percent capital adequacy ratio. In addition, the ‘commercial’ banks have been influenced by the action of the national bank, which in early 1997 caused bond prices to fall, leading to a fall in the commercial banks’ bond portfolios. Thus the banking sector in the Czech Republic still has a long way to go.

In Hungary the privatization of the banking sector is almost complete. However, a state rescue package had to be agreed at the beginning of 1997 for the second-largest state bank, Postabank, owned indirectly by the main social security bodies and the post office, and this indicates the fragility of this sector. Outside of the difficulties experienced with Postabank, the Hungarian banking system has been transformed. The rapid move towards privatization resulted from the problems experienced by the state-owned banks, which the government bad to bail out, costing it around 7 percent of GDP. At that stage it was possible that the banking system could collapse and government funding, although saving the banks, did not solve the problems of corporate governance or moral hazard. Thus the privatization process was started in earnest. Magyar Kulkereskedelmi Bank (MKB) was sold to Bayerische Landesbank and the EBDR in 1994, Budapest Bank was bought by GE Capital and Magyar Hitel Bank was bought by ABN-AMRO. In November 1997 the state completed the last stage of the sale of the state savings bank (OTP), Hungary’s largest bank. The state, which dominated the banking system three years ago, now only retains a majority stake in two specialist banks, the Hungarian Development Bank and Eximbank.

The move towards, and success of privatization can be seen in the balance sheets of the banks, which showed an increase in post-tax profits of 45 percent in 1996. These banks are also seeing higher savings and deposits and a strong rise in demand for corporate and retail lending. In addition, the growth in competition in the banking sector has led to a narrowing of the spreads between lending and deposit rates, and the further knock-on effect of mergers and small-hank closures. Over 50 percent of Hungarian bank assets are controlled by foreign-owned banks, and this has led to Hungarian banks offering services similar to those expected in many Western European countries. Most of the foreign-owned but mainly Hungarian-managed banks were recapitalized after their acquisition and they have spent heavily on staff training and new information technology systems. From 1998, foreign banks will be free to open branches in Hungary, thus opening up the domestic banking market to full competition.

As a whole, the CEECs have come a long way since the early 1990s in dealing with their banking problems. For some countries the process of privatization still has a long way to go but others such as Hungary have moved quickly along the process of transforming their banking systems in readiness for their entry into the EU.

Home Loans to Get the Best of Your Property

At least once in life everyone thinks about moving. Either to a bigger home if the family is growing; or to a smaller one, if the kids are leaving and the actual home is going to be too big for you. Whatever your reason may be, selling a house is always an opportunity.

Home loans, if well used may help you to make a good deal from your property’s sell. There are many suitable options, depending on your situation and what you are looking for. Even with bad credit, and also if you are still repaying your home mortgage.

Types Of Home Loans

There are many options to be evaluated within home loans, you should start evaluating first what is that you want to do. If you want to switch to a bigger home, to a smaller one, and how would you like to invest the extra benefit obtained from the selling, if any.

There are two important home loan categories that you should look at when thinking about moving. Those are, home purchasing loans and home improvement loans.

Home improvement loans point to, as their name says, improve your current home. Either if there are any reparations to be done, or if you would like to make your home look better before selling it, these kinds of loans may be a good help. If you do the right modifications, your home value could be increased by the time you find a buyer. Financial companies will also approve loans for landscape improvements, such as constructing a swimming pool, if that is favorable to increase the property’s value.

Home purchasing loans, in the other hand, are meant to help you on your new home’s purchasing.

Different Options

You will find a wide range of loans within both, home improvement and home purchasing loans.

Home purchasing loans will vary according to what do you intend to do. In example, if you had purchased your actual home whit a home loan which you are still repaying, and the home you are willing to move to will also need extra finance, you could get a home conversion loan. These kinds of loans, place your actual loan into the new home, including the extra amount you need. If you do not have any previous home loan, you can have a mortgage loan or a home equity loan, just over the extra amount you need to buy your new home.

You will also find many options on home improvement loans, the most common are unsecured personal loans for home improvements, home mortgage refinancing, first mortgage loans and second loans.

Unsecured personal loans may be a little more expensive than secured loans since they represent more risk for the lender, but you will not need to have equity in your property or any other collateral to apply. Credit score may be a limitation for the borrowed amount, but you are still eligible even if you have bad credit.

Home mortgage refinancing and first mortgage loans, are good options to evaluate if you have purchased your home with a mortgage loan. First mortgage loans are offered by your current lender, to finance your home improvements over your existent mortgage. With home mortgage refinancing your actual mortgage loan will be refinanced. You will not be borrowing more money, but refinancing will lower your home mortgage monthly payments leaving you extra money to invest on improving your home.

Second loans are suitable if you have an equity in your property to justify the loan.

All these options, if well used may help you to obtain the best of your property’s sell. Try to search and compare as many lenders as you can before you decide to apply for any loan.

Cheap Loans – Do's and Don'ts For Finding a Cheap Loan You Can Rely On

If you see an advertisement for a cheap loan which seems too good to be true, it may well be. Here are some top tips for spotting the potential pitfalls of loan offers and finding the right cheap loan for you.

DO: Compare loans

Lenders often categorize their loan offers as excellent deals, when in fact you could do a lot better if you took the time to compare loans across a range of different providers before choosing one, supposedly ‘cheap’, loan.

DON’T: Mistake ‘typical APR’ for a fixed rate or average rate

APR is an acronym for ‘annual percentage rate’, meaning the interest rate for the whole year. It’s easy to make the mistake of assuming the ‘typical APR’ is the precise interest rate you will pay on your cheap loan. In fact, this term refers to the interest rate offered to at least 66 per cent of applicants for that particular loan. Due to your own personal circumstances and credit history, you may be offered a higher rate than the ‘typical APR’, or you might not be able to take out the loan you want at all.

DON’T: Ignore the other charges

While the ‘typical APR’ is a good place to start when searching for cheap loans, there are often other charges involved when taking out a loan, and you also need to consider payment protection insurance. Take all of these things into account when you compare loans and you will get a much clearer picture of what the different lenders are offering.

DO: Check your credit card report

Take a look at your credit card report before embarking on a cheap loan agreement. Your credit card report will reveal how you will look to lenders when applying for a loan. You will also benefit by seeing if there are any errors and correcting them before you make an application. This will give you the best possible chance of being approved for a cheap loan.

DON’T: Be taken in by ‘payment holidays’

Sometimes, lenders will offer a ‘payment holiday’ which allows you to start paying off the loan later, perhaps after three months, instead of having to start making payments straight away. Unless this is really necessary, it tends to be better to turn down this offer, because future repayments will become larger to compensate for this initial holiday, and your total amount payable will also be higher.

DO: Read the small print

Before entering into a loan agreement, you need to know exactly what you are signing up for, and banks are required to tell you all the important terms and conditions. You should read through these carefully and not be afraid to ask as many questions as you need, to help you understand exactly what your ‘cheap loan’ will mean for you.

DO: Look out for ‘delivery charges’

In order to secure your business, certain lenders offer a service where they can send a cheque straight to you by courier, or transfer the loan into your account instantly or by the end of the day. However, this will often mean you have to pay an extra ‘delivery charge’, so unless you really need the loan immediately it might be better to say ‘no’ and keep your ‘cheap loan’ as cheap as possible.

How a Home Equity Loan Refinance Can Save You Money – Should You Refinance Your Texas Home Loan?

In Texas you can refinance your home as well as your investment property. And with today’s low mortgage rates, lots of people are doing just that using home equity loans

Plus some are doing the two-birds-one-refinance-approach: Refinance the home and pull cash out.

When it comes to refinancing, you have two options. A “rate and term” refinance or a Texas home equity loan “cash out” refinance.

With a home equity loan you pull equity out of your home or investment property.

Most people refinance to get a lower rate; this is called a “rate and term” refinance. One is keeping the same loan amount, they are just lowering or changing the rate or term of the mortgage.

Maybe they are moving out of a 30 year note to a 15 year note. This is called a rate and term refi because they are just changing the rate or the term of the original loan.

Lower mortgage rates do mean lower payments. But some clients choose a “cash out” refinance (Home Equity loan)- which means they pull equity (cash) out of their homes or investment properties for other purposes …like paying off debt or buying additional property.

For example, let’s say a family has a $450 car payment where they owe $15000. If they have enough equity in their home, it’s common for a family to refinance the home and pull enough cash out of their home to pay off other costly debt; like credit cards, cars, etc. The house payment might go up $50 but the car payment is eliminated. So a family has $400 more each month.

Some suggest against home equity loans to pay off debt stating it’s not wise to take a 3-5 year debt and spread it across 15-30 years. And these people are right. However, when I help a client save $400-500, sometimes $1000/month now these families can afford to pay extra on their 30 year mortgage and pay it off in 12-15 years.

In fact, most of the time a family will pay their home off earlier-after a home equity loan-than they would have before.

You can always call us to see if Texas home equity loan cash out refinance makes sense for you.

Home Equity Rules

Home equity loans have slightly higher rates than traditional rate and term refinances because one is raising the original loan amount. Plus when one pulls cash out of a home or investment property this is a higher risk loan. Higher risk = slightly higher rate.

And in Texas you are limited to 80% of your home’s value. Meaning if your home is worth $200,000, the most your new loan could be is $160,000. If you owe 100K, you could take out 60K or up to 80%

Then there’s the 3% home equity rule: This means the total fees associated can’t exceed 3% of the loan amount. This mostly effects those with smaller home loan balances. For example, if your home is only worth 75,000 and we are limited to 80%-your loan could only be 60K. 3% of 60k is $1800. So if your title company charges $700 for the title policy and your appraiser charges $325 and the bank charges $500 to underwrite your loan it’s not hard to be over 3%. This would mean the mortgage company could only charge $275 to be under the 3% rule.

12 day Home Equity Rule, 3 day wait-until-we-fund rule:

In Texas we have to wait at least 12 days from mortgage application to close. I even have to get a special 12 day letter signed. Then once we close, we then can’t fund the home loan for 3 days. Texas has weird home equity refinance rules so you want to work with an experienced mortgage company who does a lot of these type of loans. If you have additional questions, please call us at 512-996-8194, we help people all over Texas.

For many people home equity refinances can be a great way to jump start a new financial plan. I offer them to my clients to help them: Get out of debt, pay off bills, have more money to save and invest. My clients have saved hundreds each month by paying off high interest credit cards. My personal record is saving a family $1000/month using a home equity loan.

Once they save this money they plan to pay extra on their mortgage so they pay a 30 year note in 15 years. So used correctly, a home equity mortgage is a great way to move forward financially.

After 5 years in the mortgage business I’ve come up with my personal lending philosophy. Because anyone can do a home loan. However, my business is helping move people forward financially-starting on the mortgage level; the biggest expense for a family.

Most of my clients know my personal philosophy with mortgage lending. There are lots of mortgage people out there who promise “the lowest 30 year mortgage rate or the “best Texas 15 year mtg rate”-but this isn’t really my approach. I tend to favor what is best for the client’s short and long term. If one needs a 15 year mortgage with low closing costs, let’s use this program. Need to consolidate debt, let’s use a home equity loan.

I just don’t believe in one-size fits all mortgage plans. As soon as my clients all look the same, have the same income/debt, goals, then I’ll become a one-size fits all mortgage guy. But for now, I work with low income people, millionaires, investors, first time home buyers, second home mortgages, etc.

One’s mortgage can be either a debt instrument or a better financial tool, it’s really up to you and your mortgage professional. And in today’s economy where the realities of $5 gas aren’t really unreasonable you should work with a professional who will take the time to listen and bring the right mortgage plan to the table. Because once a mortgage is in place you must live with it.

Some questions you should ask yourself when buying or refinancing a home or investment property:

1) How much debt do I currently have? How much debt am I currently servicing each month?

2) How much in liquid savings do I currently have? Could I choose a mortgage that will help (a) lower my bills and (b) help me to save more money each month? Rate is important but now the only thing to consider. Who cares if the 15 year mortgage rate is the best rate, if it’s not affordable to you-it’s not the wise loan. Go with the 30 year rate.

3) How long do I plan to keep this home? Is this home appreciating?

4) What is my long term financial plan, and how does this new mortgage help me accomplish this plan?

#4 is where the rubber meets the road. And this is where I spend the most time with my clients; constructing the long term plan and then customizing the mortgage to fit this plan. Most people chase the lowest rate when getting into homes however without a mid-long range goal they usually end up paying more in the long-term.

Take the sub-prime meltdown. There’s nothing wrong with sub-prime loans. Sometimes things happen that cause people’s credit to go in the trash. Divorces do happen and sometimes medical bills come out of no where and people have a lot of collections. Jobs are sometimes lost and savings are use up before they were originally intended. The problem with sub-prime loans is not that they are bad, but that they need to be on Fixed rates. Not adjustable. This country has lost billions of dollars during the sub-prime meltdown for one reason: People chased the lowest rate when they bought the home and ARMs have lower rates than FIXED rates. And since ARMs had lower rates people chose ARMs over Fixed rates.

So thousands of people with bad credit bought homes on ARMs and today we have a major problem: Because people chased the lowest rate.

Having a long term financial plan. Example, let’s say you’re self employed and don’t have a company retirement plan-401k-to rely on. One approach in solving the “no 401K/IRA” problem is to own real estate. The goal is to own a few choice properties so when you do retire you will have these properties paid off and creating passive retirement income. Imagine if your mortgage broker took the time to understand your long-term goals and structured the new loan around these goals. Funny thing, most people are 15-30 years from retirement and the typical home loan is paid off in 15-30 years. Bottom line: The home you buy today could help you retire tomorrow-and you need the right home loan to go along with it.

Remember, most mortgages are based on a 15 or 30 year basis, why not structure your first home to help you retire in 30 years. I know this seems unrealistic because most people don’t keep homes that long, but going into a mortgage with a plan is better than just going into a mortgage.

Most people don’t want to take the time to think about money-but in the end-the lack of money causes a lot of other challenges in life.

This is how I’m different from the other Texas Mortgage Loan people. I believe I can either help people move forward financially or I can just get them into debt. Sure it’s easier to “sell low rates” but not at the expense of helping a client in the long term.

PMI (just so no-or at least try to get out of it.)

My clients avoid PMI when possible. But to do an 80/15 or 80/10 or an 80/10/10 one’s mortgage rate is slightly higher but the benefit is avoid pointless PMI and having lower closing costs. This is another example of why “chasing the lowest rate” isn’t always the best. Loans with PMI are better than loans without. But the benefit of not have PMI is huge. Not only will you pay less when your home loan doesn’t have PMI but your closing costs are less too.

Right now I want to touch briefly on these 3 issues and why one should be thinking of them when you buy or refinance a home. Actually, your mortgage person should customize your loan around these three points for you. If they don’t-run. If all they sell is a mortgage rate did they really serve you?

Mortgage brokers and banks love to advertise low mortgage rates. “We have the lowest rates in Texas!” But let’s think about the loan like this: “How much did it cost you to get this rate.” Because low mtg rates are one thing, but how much did it cost to get the rate?

Let’s look at one of Today’s Mortgage ads. (April 17) They are advertising a 4.87% rate.

Funny. The real 30 year rate is around 6% but they know people want “low rates” so they advertise a great rate. But when you look at the points it will take to get this rate, you’ll see there’s more to getting a mortgage than just rate. Closing costs.

For example, if you’re buying a $200K home should you really “buy the rate down” with points to get a good rate? To buy this low, low rate, it will cost $6,000 just for discount points. And yet people do this all the time. Mortgage people advertise low rate because people want low rates.

Sorta reminds me of when I bought my Toyota Tundra. I wanted to save a nickel so I went for the 2×4 instead of the 4×4 all-wheel drive. I was so proud of getting the “lowest price in town” but when it snowed or iced I had to ask my wife to drive her front-wheeled drive Honda Accord.

This is one reason why I suggest working with a mortgage broker (like me) who approaches mortgage lending from a total financial planning perspective. Because if I notice a client has a ton of credit cards and misc. debt-this 6K should not go towards a new (tax deductible) debt but towards paying off old, high interest debt that’s not tax-deductible.

Or to use real numbers, if you have the $6000 to pay towards debt, retire 15% interest debt that’s costing you $500/month instead of trying to save $200 on your mortgage. Then pay $100 extra and you’re still saving $300. Use this $300 for savings, investing or having fun.

But what about all the interest I’ll save by having a low rate? Shouldn’t I try to get the best rate so I can have lower monthly bills? Yes. Once you’re out of consumer debt-and you no longer have to pay $500 out, begin to apply $100-$200 extra on your mortgage payment. This will take years off your mortgage, usually taking a 30 year mortgage to a 12-15 year. This will save you tons in interest and give you lower payments.

When you buy or refinance any property take the time to look at the bigger picture because a mortgage or refinance can either help move you forward financially or just get you into debt.

Cheap Loans- Secured Loans Cost You Far Lesser Than Unsecured Loans

If one surveys the UK loan market, there are as many diversified loan products available as there are lending institutions. There is no dearth of good loan deals, only of good judgement. It is normally observed that first time borrowers fall prey to the trap of lenders, who despite the good credit record of the borrower let them agree for a loan at a high APR. This is mostly in the case of unsecured loans. Though, on the surface level, unsecured deals may seem tempting. But, once you go in to the depth, you find that the borrower is many times at a great loss by choosing an unsecured personal loan over a secured one.

Secured loans are cheap loans when one takes the APR charged and other charges like agreement fees, brokerage charges, and early redemption penalties into account. Since there is low risk involved in the loan deal for the lender, he offers low APRs on secured loans. The loan deal is secured by assets like home offered by the debtor. It’s the simple rule of thumb, lower the risk for the lender – lower the cost of loan for the borrower. With increasing debts and defaults on them, the rate of interest charged on unsecured loans by the lenders has increased considerably. Banks have become stringent in their credit policies as well regarding unsecured debts.

So, whenever there is choice between secured and unsecured loans, compare loans extensively. Secured loans may fetch you the following advantages that an unsecured might not.

  • Easier to obtain- You don’t really have to “hunt” for lenders in case of secured loans. Owning a home in UK and willingness to pledge it as collateral is in itself a big enough invitation for varied loan quotes from lenders. The creditors may offer you cheap loans if you are a homeowner. So, procuring a secured personal loan is not such a daunting task as availing an unsecured loan.
  • Hefty amounts can be procured- You can raise huge funds from the equity available in your home. In case of unsecured loans, on the other hand, the loan amount approved is generally small. For major financial requirements, like buying another house, property, starting a new business, going for further studies, etc, secured loan is a viable solution.
  • Long loan tenure- It is always better to repay the hefty amounts in small installments over a prolonged period. Secured loans allow this freedom to the borrower. This makes the installments easy to pay for the borrower. This feature is not there is the case of unsecured personal loans. So, compare loans on this parameter as well.
  • So, before availing any loan, compare loans to get cheap loans. After all, by availing a loan, you are incurring debts that have to be paid back. And, the more the flexibility of loan conditions, the more ease you’ll find in making regular installments.

Building Your Own Talent Pool: 8 Challenges and 8 Possible Solutions for the Banking Industry

Banks manage financial assets and the success of that management is dependent on the capabilities of the persons who manage those assets.

Therefore growth in this sector is dependent on effective management and leadership capacity and dominance in retail services is directly related to the expansion of the branch network through which the bank’s retail products and services are distributed.

The central departments or bank headquarters form the nerve center of the bank by providing direction, developing new products and services, handling high value investments, treasury management and credit activities. However, it is through the network of bank branches that the retail services developed by the central marketing function are distributed. The network of branches acts like the five senses as well as the arms and the legs of the body by sending critical information from the field to the central departments and executing the corporate strategy by successfully linking the needs of the public to the products and services developed to meet those needs.

The quality and the quantity of that exchange between the branches and the central departments have a great impact on the ability of the bank to leverage its products and services in the market. Simply put, the branches are the points of sales for all the retail products and services developed by the bank. Even though sophisticated, high-value products and services are facilitated by the central departments concerned, the ‘retail services’ are the ‘Cash Cow’. A bank’s ability to expand its branch network through which its products and services are distributed is therefore critical to its growth and profitability.

The question arises – “What is that growth dependent on? And the answer is – “It is dependent on the human capabilities available in the form of individuals who have the skills, the knowledge, the experience and the personality to successfully manage newly established branches. Herein lies one of the major challenges faced by many banks: Their need and their readiness to open new branches both in the home country and abroad is frustrated by the scarcity of individuals who are genuinely capable of successfully launching a new branch or ‘turning-around’ an existing branch.

The purpose of this article is to explore some of the reasons for the scarcity and to suggest some things that can be done about it the in the short term and in the longer term.

8 Challenges and 8 Possible Solutions

Challenge 1: There is no training and development program designed specifically to prepare individuals to move from ‘competent employee’ to ‘competent branch manager’ with the requisite leadership skills.

Solution: Identify individuals with leadership potential as early as possible in their careers through various activities and through multiple sources and methods. For example, if ‘leadership’ is identified as one of the core competencies of the bank and it is fully integrated into the appraisal system at all levels, there will be regular feedback through the performance appraisal system. This feedback can be further validated through regular Assessment and Development Centers designed to identify talent in various areas. Once identified, a clear career path should be presented to these individuals and a systematic development program applied to ensure that we not only identify capable individuals but that we retain them. A clear career path with well defined requirements for moving from one position to another contributes very strongly towards the retention of ambitions and talented leaders. When linked to ‘Succession Planning’ there will also be a timeline that ensures adequate preparation for successors and minimal disruption of work due to sudden departures.

Challenge 2: The competition for talented individuals who have the potential to lead is very high because the demand far exceeds the supply. This increases cost because salary levels have to be raised in order to attract and hopefully keep the best talent.

Solution: Recognize that intelligent and talented individuals are looking for something more than just the salary. So make your bank one that attracts the kind of people you want. Intelligent individuals with leadership capability are looking for a credible organization where they can grow and where they are given the opportunity to contribute as well as enjoy the fun and challenge of working in that place.

Challenge 3: The type of person who is good at managing the branch operations and attending to all the administrative details may not necessarily be good at leading and managing a bank branch from a commercial perspective. Therefore the assumption that it is possible to promote the operations manager to branch manager and then bring someone up from the ranks to handle operations is simply not valid.

Solution: Recognize that ‘Work Preferences’ are an even more powerful predictor of job satisfaction and productivity than academic qualifications and experience. ‘Work Preferences’ must be measured, understood and built into career management and staff retention programs. A person who is good at one thing may not necessarily be good at another. The ‘Work Preferences’ that make a good operations manager are the exact opposite of those that make a good branch manager. When Operations Manager and Branch Manager positions are filled with individuals whose ‘Work Preferences’ are congruent with their skills and their roles it leads to complementary. This increases to a high degree the potential for a great performance. Therefore ‘Work Preferences’ should be factored into the recruitment, selection, career planning, talent management, and succession planning and retention programs of the bank.

Challenge 4: The ‘Critical Success Factors’ for the position of Branch Managers need to be redefined so they reflect current market realities. The branch manager certainly needs to have a solid foundation in the banking know-how that brings the highest revenues to the bank – Credit and Trade Finance. There are far too many branch managers that are not really able to discuss business affairs with their more sophisticated clients in a satisfactory manner. Moreover, many are also unable to adequately coach their staff on the effective preparation of credit files or trade finance documentation and credit.

Solution: Develop a rigorous testing and evaluation system in these areas and use it as a pre-requisite for promotion to the position of Branch Manager. In other words, if candidates for promotion to the position of Branch Manager are unable to pass a knowledge test and a practical skills assessment, they will have to develop their abilities and pass the tests and assessments in these areas before their promotion can go through.

This will contribute to building a sense of professionalism in the sector.

Challenge 5: There is little or no emphasis on the essential ‘soft skills’ for branch management. This includes the effective management of people – inspiring, motivating, developing and challenging them to get the best results. The soft skills are underrated in comparison with banking techniques, whereas they are equally important. Here there are a wide range of skills that are vital to success; the least of which are customer relationship management that goes beyond dinners and lunches or funerals and weddings. Business Ethics is another critical area that must receive attention in light of the recent global economic crisis.

Solution: Develop a set of corporate values and a clear set of interpersonal and managerial competencies that are ingrained into the psyche of every employee through an ongoing coaching and mentoring program. Train and develop your managers so that coaching and mentoring is part and parcel of their daily routine. As they communicate these values and build the competencies into daily behavior, they will contribute to the creation of a new corporate culture where those who do not fit will move out and those who do will move up. This will increase the supply of better qualified candidates for leadership and managerial positions.

Challenge 6: Many think of the Branch Manager as a Public Relations Officer or a Liaison Officer facilitating the exchange of documents and information between the central departments and the branch. In fact many banks have designed the job of the branch manager so that he or she is no more than an informed ‘button clicker’ authorizing transactions through the bank’s operating system. Certainly the ‘control’ function is a very important one and one that cannot be relinquished. However, it has to be considered in light of the role of the branch manager and the optimal utilization of capacity.

Solution: Answer the question of what exactly is the role of the branch manager and what is the most valuable contribution that such a manager should be making. Unless this question is discussed in depth and in light of the future strategy of the bank the role of the branch manager will remain vague and will by necessity be defined by the personal preferences of the individual occupying that position. Those who like dealing with people will become Public Relations Officers, those who like dealing with things and with numbers will become Controllers, those who like ‘challenges’ will become Demanding Bosses. Each role has its merit but the bank needs to decide which role it wants to emphasize and to select its managers accordingly. The important thing is that the decision must be aligned with the banks corporate strategy for growth and expansion.

Challenge 7: From the branch manager’s perspective the question always arises: “Do I have any real power or authority within this centrally controlled structure?” There is no doubt that there are those who will take charge and confidently communicate with the central departments and get the support they need and there will be those who perceive themselves as waiting for orders and are therefore not really responsible in the final reckoning.

Solution: This relationship needs to be considered and clearly defined including the identification of the inevitable ‘grey areas’. Some individuals will be able to rise to the occasion but are waiting to be invited or to be told that they do have permission of the ‘powers that be’ to interact assertively and openly with the Central Departments. They are on the same side.

Challenge 8: Branch Managers also ask: “Where do I go from here? What is my future? Do I remain a Branch Manager for the rest of my life?”

Solution: The answers to these questions are critical to attracting suitable candidates for the position. This is also linked to the role we want our branch managers to play. Are we looking for ambitious entrepreneurs with a solid ethical grounding who are prepared to go after promising opportunities? Or are we looking for ‘button clickers’ who will scrutinize the details, follow the rules and religiously adhere to procedures? Or are we looking for someone who enjoys being a Public Relations officer and gets along really well with people but lacks the solid banking knowledge that will yield high returns from these customer relationships?

This is an important decision as it will determine who you get to fill the position. If you don’t want to settle for taking the first ‘okay’ candidate, a decision must be taken.

Looking at these Human Capital challenges and solutions leads us to propose two main courses of action. One is to make the most of the current situation and the other is to be better prepared for the future. Below are the details on both approaches.

Short Term Human Capital Investment:Take advantage of the current crisis to recruit the talent you really want and to build a pool from which to choose in the future. In the Harvard Business Review you will find steps of consideration to ensure that when you do hire, you hire the right person, at the right time, with the right skills to ensure that when you need specific outcomes, your people are able to deliver.

Hiring Top Executives: A Comprehensive End-to-End Process

1. Anticipate the Need

  • Conducting ongoing, proactive analysis of future needs.
  • Continually evaluating the pool of potential talent.
  • Developing rigorous periodic forecasts of the company’s talent needs.


2. Specify the Job


  • Defining the specific demands of the job.
  • Specifying which skills and experience are relevant.
  • Identifying the team the candidate will need to work with or recruit.

3. Develop the Pool

  • Developing a large pool.
  • Including insiders, outsiders, inside­rs, outsiders, and outside-insiders.
  • Considering people on the periphery of the organization (employees in remote offices, consultants, suppliers, customers).
  • Tapping your networks and involving the right external partners.
  • Asking candidates’ peers for nominations.

4. Assess the Candidates

  • Using a small number of high-caliber, well-trained, properly motivated interviewers.
  • Employing rigorous behavioral event interviews.
  • Conducting detailed reference checks.
  • Including top stakeholders in candidate assessment.

5. Close the Deal

  • Demonstrating active support for the candidate’s interests.
  • Describing the job realistically.
  • Involving the hiring manager personally, not just HR, in closing the deal.
  • Ensuring that compensation is fair to other employees.
  • Involving C-level for top positions.

6. Integrate the Newcomer

  • Using veteran top performers as mentors.
  • Making sure the newcomer checks in regularly with boss, mentor, and HR even when no problems have arisen.

7. Audit and Review

  • Removing bad hires within the first year.
  • Regularly reviewing recruiting practices.
  • Identifying and rewarding excellent interviewers.
  • Holding all assessors accountable for the quality of their evaluations.

Source: Fernandez-Araoz, C, Groysberg, B and Nohria, N 2009, ‘The Definitive Guide to Recruiting in Good Times and Bad’, Business Harvard Review, vol. 87, no. 5, pp.79.

Long Term Human Capital Investment:

Identify, develop and retain top talent by using a number of structured and unstructured innovations in ‘Talent Management.’

Build Your Own Talent Pool

Forward-looking Banks today realize that what limits their ability to expand and develop retail operations is the availability of qualified managers to head new branches. The absence of an effective second or third line management layer within a bank means that the bank will face a succession crisis if there isn’t a swift and effective response to this reality.

The challenge is how to make sure that the right persons have been selected and that the path of their development and training will be one that properly prepares them to carry the bank into the 21st century. More importantly, will these individuals be ready to respond to the impact of the political, legal / regulatory, environmental and social changes in the world and in the region? Will they be prepared to handle the reality of borderless financial markets and the ever-increasing pace of technology driven change?

There is no doubt that banks already have or are actively recruiting high potential individuals to lead their banks into the future. The problem, however, is how to accurately identify and accelerate the development of these high potential people so that they can get to where you need them to be in 1 or 2 years instead of five or ten. The second challenge is how to retain them.

These are the challenges that this Bank Branch Manager Accreditation program addresses.


This is an ambitious program and dictates that we proceed with full awareness of the necessary conditions to ensure success.

  1. Full support and or commitment from top management.
  2. Selection on merit and competence so that the investment is made in the right people and the program is perceived as credible.
  3. Selection on merit and competence so that the investment is made in the right people and the program is perceived as credible.
  4. Address the expectations of all stakeholders to prevent misconceptions regarding the outcomes of the program.
  5. Develop a supportive succession and retention plan for those in the program and those directly impacted by them.
  6. Set a realistic budget for this project and demonstrate the high return on investment.
  7. Give the program the optimal time for successful implementation.


The main purpose of this program is to prepare successful individuals to fit smoothly into the role of future Branch Manager of fast-growing banks that have a regional and or international client base. This will involve a number of subordinate objectives:

  1. Train and develop future Bank Branch Managers quickly, effectively and economically.
  2. Use techniques that will bring out the best in your staff and help you decide, without a doubt, where each one will perform best.
  3. Ensure that the development program is totally targeted to your bank’s culture and business strategy.
  4. Identify those who can deal with high change and high stress business environments.
  5. Differentiate the true team players from those who do better alone.
  6. Change your corporate culture to reflect the values and competencies that are vital to the future success and sustainability of your business.
  7. Provide real management experience at low risk to you and your staff.
  8. Involve more than one group in the change process to ensure maximum ‘buy-in’ or ownership of the development process.
  9. Increase the supply of qualified candidates and so reduce the risk of poaching by competitors.

The more we know of human nature and the workings of the human brain, the more we realize that the story of our lives is written in every cell of our body and shaped by every significant relationship. The importance of getting the right people in the right place and the right group of people working together cannot be overestimated. The right outcomes will seem to come as if by magic.