Running a successful financial institution comes with a plethora of responsibilities and pressures. Dealing with these effectively and continuing to move forward can be challenging and rewarding. When you throw an uncertain (even hostile?) regulatory environment that has been threatening to pull the rug out from under your feet for years, that’s a stress multiplier that has made some take a bunker mentality and just try to survive. While the bunker mentality is certainly a safe play, it makes it hard to be innovative or even keep pace with the competition.
Can you compare this environment to the tale of the Sword of Damocles? Damocles, a court attendant, traded places with King Dionysius after Damocles told the king how great his job was. The king traded, but placed a sword over Damocles head that was held precariously by a horse hair to represent the constant pressure a leader faced. Damocles quickly wilted under the constant threat of the sword and gave up his position. (Wikipedia has a better summary of the tale)
This is similar to the current situation many financial institutions find themselves with the federal regulators placing a figurative sword over their heads. While the sword is figurative, the threat is very real. The big difference is the leadership of the financial institutions did not want to trade places with the regulatory body. In fact, they continue to appreciate the role of regulation in creating a healthy, consumer-focused business environment. The regulatory body just decided to place this “sword” over the financial service providers collective heads, periodically tweaking the tenuous string from which it is hanging to make sure everyone is aware of its presence. This threat has kept a large group of organizations from adapting to the changes in technology, consumer preferences, and competition. Who is benefiting from this situation? Consumers – no. Operators – no. Regulators – hmm.
I would argue that the regulatory environment many not stabilize until 2018, if then. There always seems to be something that continues to kick the “payday rules can” down the road another six months, right? Even if there is a change in leadership of the regulatory “king”, can you be assured that it will have a positive effect for your business or will it just create more uncertainty and continue the waiting game? How has the change at the executive office helped your business so far in 2017? I’m not being critical, some changes takes time and involve a lot of moving parts behind the scenes. My point is you can always find a reason to not act, but you need to take charge of your destiny and create your own environment that removes the sword from hanging over your head.