A Letter from the Conference Chair

Conference Chairman

Richard Melville
Group Editorial Director, Banking

Dear Colleague:

Maybe the worst of the financial crisis really has passed. And maybe it hasn’t. Either way, you know that survival mode isn’t going to cut it as a business plan much longer and the question, if it hasn’t come already, is going to very soon:

“So, where are we going to find revenue growth?”

The question may seem almost unfair, given how much work went into making it this far. But with customers, legislators, and boards of directors looking for a roadmap back to steady and sane growth, it is the big question for 2010.

What we do know is that the roadmap won’t look like the one that sufficed coming out of other business cycles. Too much has changed, and those changes have significant implications.

Consider just a handful:

  • The deposit market share of the nation’s three biggest banks now tops 30% — in fact, each of the top three controls more than 10%.
  • More than 100 banks failed in 2009, and that number is expected to be dwarfed in 2010
  • Online banking became the channel most preferred by consumers, topping branches for the first time

What that adds up to is a financial services landscape that’s more competitive and more dynamic. It’s also one in which regulatory pressure to rein in risk-taking is intense. At the same time, profits from traditional safe-havens are harder to come by — remarkably, Treasury securities at the time of this letter had a lower yield than a year earlier, despite a massive increase in federal borrowing.

That makes the creative pursuit of business even more of an imperative. And it makes American Banker’s Best Practices in Retail Financial Services Symposium particularly timely.

The senior executives who attend the Best Practices gathering have long considered it the premiere gathering of its kind. It’s the one industry event that year in and year out — now in its 15th year — has always focused squarely on the issues that a retail banking executive’s agenda comprises.

This year, those issues are rather different than in the past. Gone are the days when the asset side of the balance sheet took care of itself and it was enough to puzzle over how to maximize deposit gathering. Now, bankers need to think through what it means to have the “right” model in branch banking, and where services like personal financial management and mobile banking fit in their consumer strategies. They need to adjust to new regulation in credit businesses even as they look to fill revenue holes left by the absence of overdraft and other fees.

Consider this your invitation to join us for this industry-defining event. It’s your chance to connect with industry peers and with the executives who in the coming year will be redefining the retail financial services landscape. Make your reservations now to join us in March.


Richard Melville
Group Editorial Director, Banking