Strategic planning has always been an important function of the board of directors, but it takes on an even more critical role when under the regulatory microscope. The OCC announced that, for the remainder of 2016, it will continue to focus on strategic risk, as banks change their business models to adapt to innovative products and services.
Ten years ago, I wrote an article on how banks could minimize their litigation risks. Unfortunately, many of the same schemes are present today as they were ten years ago, such as check fraud, check kiting, elder abuse, bookkeeper fraud, and construction loan fraud. Today, cybersecurity and other high-tech risks are consuming bankers' attention in order to reduce their operational and reputational risks. While these issues are important, here are a few of the low-tech ways in which banks can minimize their litigation risk.
Many banks need to add new board members because some are reaching a mandatory retirement age or because others who agreed to stay through the financial crisis now want to rotate off the board. Banks need to keep in mind that they will be under close scrutiny by any prospective candidate who will be conducting due diligence on the bank at the same time the bank is conducting due diligence on the candidate. In order to ensure your bank can attract top candidates for board positions, consider the following before beginning the recruiting process:
Directors in community banks are usually picked for two reasons: their expertise and their ability to bring business into the bank. Upon taking their places at the board tables, however, directors immediately learn that while bringing business into their bank is a laudable goal, they also have to ensure that their bank operates in a safe and sound manner. Directors, thus, walk a fine line between these two goals.
Strategic risk is currently a focus of regulatory scrutiny and the board of directors should understand what it is and how to manage it. Strategic risk is the risk to a bank's earnings and capital from making poor business decisions, from not implementing business decisions properly, or from failing to respond to industry changes.