Enough about the financial crisis, already.
Yes, five years on the banking industry is still feeling repercussions of that tumultuous time, from lingering legacy assets and legal exposures to broken public trust and mounting compliance burdens to paltry interest rates and a droopy economy. Yes, major policy questions remain hotly debated, from how to solve "too big to fail" to what should replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to whether U.S. regulators are right to adopt Basel III. And yes, bankers of this and future generations should, of course, remember what the industry just went through whenever faced with the temptation to take greater risks to juice short-term profits.
All these things are unquestionably important. But it's time to start looking ahead.
It's time to give a rest to the endless arguing about whether government or the private sector caused the housing bubble (answer: both). It's time to look past today's politically charged regulatory controversies and the headwinds of choppy loan demand, tight net interest margins and rising operating costs. It's time to take stock of where demographic shifts, disruptive technologies and innovative startups are leading the financial services business – regardless of what the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington decide.
In short, it's time to start thinking long and hard about how banks are going to make money in the future – sustainably and honorably.
To that end, BankThink is introducing a new series, entitled "The Future Model of Banking." We invited a dozen or so outside contributors, including several BankThink regulars, but also some new voices, to address these questions:
What is the future model of banking? What products and services will tomorrow's banks offer that truly add value and that customers will be willing, even happy, to pay for? How will banks deliver/market these services? Think big and broad – five years out at least.
In our inaugural post, "Full Frontal Banking," Susan Ochs writes that future banks will require "a Hippocratic-oath level of trust." Trust will be an ongoing theme in the series, along with personalization of service and partnering with startups.
Over the next two weeks we'll be running at least one of these posts each day. None of these visions of the bank of tomorrow is presented as the last word – quite the opposite. Readers are encouraged to weigh in on the specific ideas presented, and the broader questions, in the Comments sections of these posts. As always with BankThink, the goal is to foster discussion.
Marc Hochstein is the Executive Editor of American Banker. The views expressed are his own.