15 IT Leadership Mistakes Made by Banks & Credit Unions
We've Learned a Few Things After 20+ Years of Technology Leadership in the Banking Industry
We consistently see the following truths across banks and credit unions. We share these insights to demonstrate how Teremark works on your behalf, supporting your interests. We deliver strategies and solutions that improve your technology investments and enable your financial viability.
Critical Technology Leadership Mistakes Made by Banks & Credit Unions
There are about 9,800 banks and credit unions in the U.S. This number is decreasing at a rate of 2-3% annually due to CEO retirements, financial non-viability, and M&A. IT cost management has a major impact on ROA.
It is impossible to perform banking transactions today without technology. The most effective organizations understand the strategic nature of technology and have the CIO/CTO reporting directly to the CEO.
The vast majority of bank and credit union CEOs are not technology experts, nor should they have to be. However, effective technology leadership requires a CIO/CTO leader who is skilled in technology strategy, technology architecture, IT operations, automation, cybersecurity, outcome-based IT metrics, and IT service delivery with IT cost containment. Many CEOs believe these skills can be acquired through vendors vs. developing them in-house. This is not the case.
Fintechs emerged because the banking industry became complacent, focusing on traditional branch banking operations vs. staying current with member expectations of self-service and personal control of their financials across modern, digital channels.
The largest banks and credit unions in the industry (top 2-3%) are masters of technology strategy, innovation, and member experience. They are Fintechs themselves and drive technology innovation for the industry. The other 97% follow their lead, but they can only acquire these capabilities through vendor contracts, technologies, and services.
There is a major difference between technology leadership and system administration. Many small – medium banks and credit unions take their best network administrator or core administrator and make them the CIO. This is a classic mistake as their skills are a misalignment of tactical system tasks vs. the holistic, visionary leadership required across all technology domains. This is the job of the CIO.
Effective technology management is more than just technology implementation and system uptime; it is about delivering strategic business value, efficient IT operations, skilled financial management, and effective cybersecurity management. This is a rare skillset and comes only from years of leadership experience across all IT disciplines.
Most banks and credit unions cannot afford top CIO/CTO leaders, so they turn to vendors for technology direction and advice. However, vendors are focused on maximizing their own revenue, a major conflict of interest. They are product development and sales people; they do not have the skills, experience, or incentive to be effective CIO/CTO leaders.
Relying on vendors vs. hiring an experienced CIO/CTO leader (and an IT team who understands technology as well (or better) than vendors and Fintechs), produces the following problems:
Your OPEX and CAPEX costs are almost always higher than they should be, because vendors charge as much as possible for technologies and services to maximize their revenue. Many will sell you things that you don’t actually need.
Technology vendors want to sell you more things, which adds to process inefficiencies and increases complexity inside your operating environment. The result is more system integration, more vendor contracts, higher annual expenses, more upgrades, and more technology failure points.
Efficiencies in IT come from automation and system integration to support business process optimization. Vendors may offer to optimize processes for you, including automation. However, their cost will be 3x – 4x your internal costs, and you will have even more technologies to integrate and maintain. You need software developers in your IT department. Many banks and credit unions are afraid of software development.
Vendors will avoid contracted SLAs for service and support, if you let them. Only CIO/CTO leaders with years of experience dealing with technology vendors and IT operations know what SLAs are critical and how to make vendors agree to them in contracts.
Without having a highly experienced CIO/CTO and a team of engineers who understand technology, you have no way of determining when false promises regarding features and capabilities are being made by vendors.
Without a highly experienced CISO and cybersecurity team on staff, it is a safe bet that your cybersecurity capabilities are in serious jeopardy, especially in today’s geopolitical climate. Effective cybersecurity cannot be outsourced. Even “reputable” security monitoring services miss many threats. It only takes one incident to destroy your organization.
Teremark CIO Partners has consistently experienced these challenges at banks and credit unions across the U.S. We created the Teremark CIO360 IT Strategy & Capability Assessment to help our customers discover and address the issues above. We have seen it all, managed it all, failed sometimes, and we now offer our experiences and insights to enable your organization. Engage us today to confirm your IT strengths and to effectively guide your future IT investments for maximum benefit.