If an Opportunity Falls in Your Lap, Are You Ready?


The coming bank consolidation isn’t a surprise. It’s been predicted for years. In fact, the next 18 months are destined to be a major “shake out” period when weak banks will be acquired or closed—and banks that are in a position to capture the best customers in town will become stronger and more profitable.

If an opportunity like this landed unexpectedly in your lap, would you be ready? Most banks wouldn’t be. Unfortunately, they’ll suffer years of pain, lost productivity, and even reputation damage from what was previously viewed as the opportunity of a lifetime.

Here’s what I know from decades of guiding banks through acquisitions: You have no business doing one if you’re not ready.

Of course, it’s commonly known that 70 to 80 percent of mergers and acquisitions fail to meet expectations—in fact, they’re often economically a disaster. Robert Holthausen of the Wharton School of Business cited a recent study that puts the failure rate as high as 83 percent.


Because of the two years’ worth of “us-vs.-them.” conversations… past and present behaviors…crazy-making by “the new guys”… and the fact that your team will be so preoccupied with the conversation around the acquisition (as well as cleanup and culture clashes), that they’ll barely be able to focus on their own jobs.

Compound those cultural messes with sales disasters like, We don’t know who our psychographic target markets are. We don’t understand their hot buttons or have unique selling propositions to create differentiating value specific to each niche market. We don’t know how to do target “reputation equity building” marketing around each niche. We have no idea how to build relationships to get them to do “hand raises.” We have no integration to monitor the stage of each top 100 and top 1000 prospects. We don’t even have a defined sales system or the controls to make sure people are following that system to get premium pricing. And we don’t have the right measurements in place or even clear expectations, critical drivers, and education for those critical drivers to report into EVERY week.

Shucks, we’ve been so focused on internal technical things that we’ve taken our eyes off the ball.

But mergers and acquisitions don’t have to be this way. They can be systematic and systematized. They can give everyone a comfort level from the get-go—about what their role is and how things work.

But you have to build a culture FIRST to be ready for a merger or acquisition opportunity that lands in your lap.

Roxanne Emmerich

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