Four non-financial takeaways from the current bank flameouts 🔥

Andrew Sheves
2 min readMar 23, 2023

Everyone (well, every risk and crisis manager) can learn something from what’s happening with the banks right now.

Here are four things I think are worth reflecting on.

1 — There are two kinds of risk management and both matter.

One is compliance / audit centric and looks at how things match up to the relevant regulations and standards. The other is operational and asks ‘what could interfere with our objectives?’ Sometimes, a good ‘score’ on one overlooks poor performance on the other. In SVB’s case, they appear to have been in good shape from a regulatory / compliance standpoint but operationally, they weren’t.

2 — Don’t Trust, Do Verify.

Just because an organization claims they are compliant, even if has conducted an audit, you need to verify these claims. First, because they may be compliant with one kind of risk management but not another (like SVB). Two, because they might not be telling the truth (which is why Credit Suisse was hit with a hefty fine earlier this year). So you need to conduct your own verification and this doesn’t just apply to risk management: things like supply chains need very careful scrutiny.

3 — Communications Matter…

Doing the right thing is important, but so is saying the right thing, particularly in what my friend Bill Coletti calls a critical moment: the inflection point where you could sip into crisis but just as easily get back on track. SVB’s messaging two weeks ago, which was intended to calm investors and depositors, did just the opposite. You need to have comms at the table for every big discussion and decision.

4 — …but perception matters more.

People will respond to not just what they hear, but also what they see and what you and others do. So even if your messaging is clear and unambiguous, perceptions will win out. In the case of SVB, Axios described it like this “the only real up-to-date information that depositors had about the health and viability of [SVB] was the plunging share price — and the ever-growing number of stories of other depositors pulling their deposits.”

There’s some way to go until we’re clear of the current turbulence but these four points are more general and worth keeping in mind no matter what sector you’re in.

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Andrew Sheves

I’m an analogue operator in a digital environment who thinks simplification = optimization. I build and share risk management tools at https://andrewsheves.com