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Do You Know Your Bank or Credit Union’s Top Priorities?

Mary Ellen Biery
August 26, 2016
Read Time: 0 min

Day in and day out, bankers face a number of pressures as they do their jobs.

They must find new customers and keep current customers happy. They must keep a tight rein on expenses and avoid running afoul of the many regulatory requirements for their institutions. And they must keep an eye on competitors and external pressures to make sure tomorrow’s results will be as strong as today’s.

But which of these demands is the most important at your bank or credit union? Does senior leadership do a good job of communicating its top priorities?

In a recent online survey of more than 1,000 bankers using Abrigo's solutions, bankers indicated that priorities are fairly diverse. And some banks do a better job of sharing goals with staff than others do.

Over a third of bankers (38 percent) said growing the loan portfolio is the most important to leaders of their financial institution, which is not entirely surprising. Abrigo Senior Risk Management Consultant Rob Ashbaugh said many financial institutions are focusing on portfolio growth in order to offset the profit-pinching effects of low-interest rates and thin margins. In fact, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has pointed to strong loan growth, combined with an easing in underwriting standards, in recent months while warning of increasing credit risk among federally chartered banks.

About 1 in 5 bankers (21 percent) said reducing credit and exam risk is the top priority of their leaders, according to the survey. Ashbaugh said it’s important that leaders understand and manage the risk in their market and portfolio, and it starts with an active and engaged board that sets an appropriate risk management strategy. “Once you understand the risk, bankers can grow their portfolio in line with their risk appetite and overall strategy,” he said.

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Banks can also be proactive about identifying and mitigating risks through active review of timely financials, periodic adjustments to risk ratings as necessary, outreach before a borrower goes past due, and taking action to reprice or restructure a loan when it comes time for renewal.

Interestingly, another common response among bankers surveyed was that they don’t know which priorities are most important to their leaders. “I don’t know” was the second most popular answer among those polled, with 22 percent of people selecting the answer. This could indicate inadequate or unclear communication from management, which is something all financial institutions can work to improve.

Eleven percent of bankers said improving the customer experience is the most important priority, according to Abrigo’s survey. It’s unclear how the bankers polled in this survey are working to improve that experience, but previous reports have noted many financial institutions are focused on using technology to improve customer access to services or to speed up decisions on loan applications.

Reducing operational costs and diversifying products and customers were less commonly mentioned priorities in the survey. Only 5 percent and 4 percent of respondents, respectively, mentioned those goals.

The survey was conducted between July 28 and August 4, 2016.

About the Author

Mary Ellen Biery

Senior Strategist & Content Manager
Mary Ellen Biery is Senior Strategist & Content Manager at Abrigo, where she works with advisors and other experts to develop whitepapers, original research, and other resources that help financial institutions drive growth and manage risk. A former equities reporter for Dow Jones Newswires whose work has been published in

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About Abrigo

Abrigo enables U.S. financial institutions to support their communities through technology that fights financial crime, grows loans and deposits, and optimizes risk. Abrigo's platform centralizes the institution's data, creates a digital user experience, ensures compliance, and delivers efficiency for scale and profitable growth.

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