Excellence in Banking — Revisited! by Steven I. Davis (auth.)

By Steven I. Davis (auth.)

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Investments like China, India and Brazil can only pay off in 15–20 years. ’ Bill Dalton, the recently retired head of the personal financial services (retail) business segment, emphasizes the opportunities from moving from a pure geographic focus to one of global client segments: Shaping the Business Model 25 ‘The whole has become greater than the sum of the parts as a connected global enterprise. Now we’re driven by the market. In the past we at Midland Bank [part of HSBC] were kidding ourselves; we had no interest in what happened in Hong Kong.

Everybody understands the business model: it’s 99% basic execution. Banking is a pretty simple business; there are no manuals like nuclear physics. It’s just rate times principal times time! We run the business in a decentralized way. The competition has a line of business model, whereas each of our 17 affiliates has a local CEO and the selling is local. The model was established before I arrived. We tell the banks we acquire: here’s the way we operate – and it works! Why change the model? It all depends on how hard you want to hustle.

You can’t sell eight products per customer [their long-term target] unless you’re the customer’s choice for investment products. Narrow-based companies are forced to take excess risk because, even when you know macroeconomics will go against you, no one knows when, or has the guts to tell the stockholders “I’m going to slow down the business”, because you’ll get killed by the competition. But a diversified financial services company has choices; if you slow one business down, you can make up for it with other businesses.

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