About the Episode

In today's competitive banking landscape, it's essential for financial institutions to have a strong company culture that aligns with their business objectives and values. A winning culture can attract and retain top talent, foster innovation, and improve customer satisfaction.

Even though it might sound simple, creating a winning culture can be difficult, but worthwhile endeavor. It starts with having a clear purpose and vision that flows through your entire institution, allowing your teams to align with company objectives while fostering a culture that champions innovation, transparency and engagement.

Listen in as Baker Hill lending experts discuss how banks and credit unions can create a winning culture to attract and retain top talent for their institutions.

FAQs on Creating a Winning Culture For Financial Institutions

What is organizational culture, and why is it important?

Organizational culture is the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that shape the way people work together in an organization. It is important because it influences how employees behave, how decisions are made, and how work is accomplished. A strong culture can improve employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction, and lead to better business outcomes.

How does a strong culture contribute to overall success?

A strong culture can contribute to overall success in several ways. It can:

  1. Help attract and retain top talent, as employees are more likely to stay with organizations that align with their values and goals.
  2. Improve customer satisfaction since employees that are engaged and aligned with the organization's mission are more likely to deliver high-quality service.
  3. Drive innovation and agility beause employees who feel empowered think creatively and are more likely to develop new ideas and solutions.

How can technology help a bank or credit union create a better culture?

Technology can help a bank or credit union create a better culture in several ways including:

  • Streamlining communication and collaboration between employees.
  • Promoting transparency and collaboration throughout the organization.
  • Improving the employee experience and promoting work-life balance
  • Automating administrative tasks, allowing employees to focus on more strategic work.

How can a bank or credit union measure the success of its culture?

A bank or credit union can measure the success of its culture by conducting employee engagement surveys, tracking turnover rates and retention rates, monitoring customer satisfaction, and assessing the organization's ability to adapt and innovate. It can also look at financial metrics, such as revenue growth and profitability, to determine the impact of its culture on overall success.



Mitch Woods: Welcome to today's episodes of Lending Made Easy. Today we've got Bryan Peckinpaugh and David Catalano, and we're gonna be discussing what it takes to create a winning culture to, to attract and retain top talent at your financial institution. We've mentioned, you know, the importance of people several times throughout other episodes, uh, and today we're really gonna discuss how a culture plays a role.

So back in 2021, PWC conducted a global survey and 66% of C-Suite leaders believe that culture's more important to their success than their strategy or even their operating model. And 69% of senior leaders attribute their success to their organizational culture. So we'll kick this off, David, I'll ask you first, if you're leading a team at a bank, what do you do with those stats?

For really looking at my culture as a, uh, as a main contributing factor for my success? Well, I

David Catalano: think a good culture starts with the idea that it's a focus for, for the C-Suite, it's a focus for leaders. If the, if you wanna actually build something, you have to focus on it, and then you gotta measure it. And what gets measured, you know, typically gets improved.

Uh, and when I look at organizations that have really winning cultures, you know, I think about inclusiveness or when I say that, what I mean is they're asking staff for input on how to improve the process, how to. The experience the customers have, cuz it's around keeping the customers happy. Well, the best way to do that is to make the employees happy because the employees are never gonna treat your customer any better than they're treated.

So from a cultural perspective, you have to actually focus on that as an initiative and build that out, and you'll see your culture winning when your employees start referring other people to be hired into your organization. When they're inviting their friends and their family and previous colleagues from other organizations to your organization to work for the same place they work.

You got something there. And I think that's just a result of, uh, of a, of a solid culture. Brian, what do you


Bryan Peckinpaugh: First of all, my perspective, you know, culture tends to be a very buzzwordy type thing. Like what is it that actually even mean to have a company culture? And to me the, the singular biggest thing that delineates organizations with a, a good, solid, true culture and those that just talk about it is, is authenticity.

You know, everybody out there likes to talk about culture is part of their hiring process and, and their organization as a whole, but those that I've seen it do it best. It, it permeates through everything they do right?. So it's, it's not just a mission statement and a value proposition and a, you know, whatever else might go on a, on a banner head.

It, it's living and breathing that through everything you do and having those components flow through to the decisions you make, to the people you hire, to how you run your, your business. Right? So, you know, I'll pick on one that you see in. In value statements all the time, right? I mean, how many companies do you come across that one of their core values is innovation, right?

It shows up everywhere, and then they run the same old 20 year old technology that got 'em where they are. That's not very innovative, right? So they, those are the things that immediately jump out that don't kind of permeate through and bring authenticity to those statements around. So bringing the authenticity to the table, really living those, uh, values that you put out there, living and breathing your mission statement, uh, and making sure that you're following through with that in every inter interaction, every, you know, component of your brand becomes critically important.

Cause David, that's what really starts to attract people, right? I. I wanna do business with people that are like me. I wanna work with people that are like me from that culture perspective. Those that value the same things that I value, that see the world the same way that I see the world, that brings the compounding exponential factor to the table, right?

We're, we're better together if we're following the same, same mission and same approach. So it, it, it's critically important, right? Being able to find that and, and use that as your guiding principle uh, will, will help make decisions easier, will make people happier, uh, because you have those, those anchor tenants to, to come back to that, that allow you to kinda springboard into, you know, every aspect of your business.

David Catalano: Yeah, I would agree with that. Just creating an environment where people want to be fully engaged. Then all you have to worry about is who you're hiring, right? To make sure that the person you're hiring is the right fit, both from a cultural standpoint and from a capability standpoint. So if they get the culture right, you get the, get the capabilities right?

You got a good hire on your hands, and then you empower them to do their job and inform the decisions being made across the board. Then we have to start, also start thinking about interdepartmental engagement, right? So how am I interacting with the next department in, in this. So if you think, think about commercial loan origination.

How am I originating loans? And then how, how am I interacting with the people that have to document those loans or, or service those loans? You know, how, how is all that working together and are we working together on certain things? Are there engagement ideas that we can put together so that people work together across, and it might not even be on a work initiative, right?

It could be on a, you know, some type of, just some type of cultural engagement initiative. Mm-hmm. across the bank you know, different teams working together so that they build relationships and can build trust and, you know, or just continue the engagement. But, it gets back to how do I engage individuals so that they feel fully bought in on what the business is all about.

And we talk about mission or vision and all that. Those are big words, right? But at the end of the day, what are we here to do? Mm-hmm. and am I a hundred percent bought into. and do I want to be here and, and I'm, am I contributing in a meaningful way? And when you can get everybody contributing in a meaningful way, you got something.

Bryan Peckinpaugh: Yeah. See, you know, the old Simon, the Simon Sinek book, right? The uh, that, that golden circle of the what, how, why, and making sure those are all aligned, you know, starting from why we're doing what we're doing, that permeates up through how we're going to go about doing it. So that's, to your point, David, of those interactions become critical.

Right? If I, I'll go back to my innovation piece earlier if, if that's a key tenant of mine that needs to go through everything, I need to be looking at those employee interactions and saying, is there a, is there a way to innovate how that communication happens or maintaining those same silos that have been in place for 20 years?

It shouldn't be. That you need to walk down the hallway to engage with a colleague. You were talking about loan origination. I shouldn't have to walk down to the servicing department to engage if I'm truly looking to innovate, it's, it's bringing tools and concepts to the table to make that easier, to drive those processes further in my ability to then innovate for the end client.

If I'm gonna bring innovative solutions to the market, I've gotta have innovative approaches internally. You know, whether that's looking at team messaging type solutions like Slack and teams, but not just looking at 'em as a tool, but how they fit to the overall company culture. Is that supporting my vision of innovation or am I just buying something to buy something , right?

Uh, how, how am I gonna support that? How am I gonna bring authenticity to, again, what I've stated is the culture, it that only comes from, from living it and breathing it through everything you do.

David Catalano: So we see it when we implement software, don't we? I mean, we see people that are, that they're, they're implementing a solution that's gonna change their work and they've never seen it before.

And we have to give 'em a demo, like, this is what it does, this is how it it works, versus getting their ownership transfer on the way in, like, here, what do you think of this guys? So this is how, this is how your work's gonna gonna change for the better and, and get some ownership transfer on their part so that

you know, when they, when they start that quote unquote second job implementing their software. Yeah. They're actually happy about it. They're, they're engaged. They're like, this is really gonna be good. This is exciting. This is gonna allow us to, to really change the experience our commercial customers have because we're gonna, we're gonna take a transaction that took 74 days on average down the 35 days.

And that's cool. That's what excites me cuz I'm in commercial lending. As a, as an example, if you're in a commercial bank and you, and you're focused on commercial lending, Which a lot of our folks that we work with, that's what they do. So, you know, I don't think there's any real rocket science here. It's just not, it's the same in, in every business I've been in.

And when you, when you can get the full engagement of your team by getting the right people on the team who are culturally compatible and capable of doing the work, and you provide them with some transparency and, and you just ask them, you know, what should we be doing here? Give, give us ideas, bring your ideas forward.

And then you start executing on some of those, and then they start working across the organization you just end up with a, a better overall result. And that result is this culture thing that we're, that we're talking about. It's like a quill. Yeah. We just have to be focused on what we're building here.

Bryan Peckinpaugh: Yeah, exactly.

And it used to be kind of referred to as executive buy-in, right? That, and it was this kind of top-down leadership structure where you, you make these decisions, you get buy-in from the executive level and you push that out through the organization. Uh, and I think we're seeing that shift, you know, kind of to your point, David.

Making these, whether it's technology selections or business decisions, we're making it with the culture in mind and using the culture to reinforce it and push it out, right? We should be using this new commercial LOS as an example because it fits our culture and approach in these ways. You know, we, we pride ourselves on innovation, speed, and customer service.

Well I'd better have a modern commercial LOS because how else am I gonna deliver on those, those three things that I'm saying to the market are central to, to my organization and my culture and, and being able to use that to drive the employee engagement almost kind of bottom up adoption at that point.

Right. Hey, you've, you've joined this organization because you believe in what we are doing and how we're doing it, well, this is something that aligns exactly with that approach and mission. By nature, you should, you should look to adopt what, what we're talking about. And as long as those things all stay in alignment, you know, use, you use that, that shrinkage David, of turn time and you know, you talked to the beginning of what gets measured gets improved.

I always said what gets measured gets done. That's a metric that we hear a lot in our industry. People wanting to take a 74 day process down to 30. What I think is critically important as we think about culture is how you then communicate that to the people that are using the platform. Cuz that speed can manifest itself in a number of different ways and it can be touted in a number of different ways.

It could be speed for speed, say that might not be good, whereas it, again, if I value customer service as an example, is part of my culture, then what I'm really talking about is meeting the client where they are and financial answers to their needs and problems. And I'm being able to get them feedback, get them support in double the time.

Right. And it's just a different way to sit, think about the exact same thing. Whereas other organizations, they may value speed, right? They, we are the fastest to the decision in the market. And, and thus how they're gonna talk about that same you know, trimming of 43 days as opposed to kind of the, the other approach, and again, all gets back to what you're trying to build as an organization, what kind of culture you're looking at.

And again, I think those that I've seen be wildly successful in, in building this, you know, some of the most innovative banks that I think about have mastered this. They really understand their corporate brand their executives really understand their own personal brands and how that ties back to the overall corporate structure.

And, and, you know, everybody's then follows suit, right by my personal brand that I might put out there on, on LinkedIn or other business networking sites or, you know, boards you may participate in. If those all align with the company I work for it's, it's that multiplying factor, right? It's everything grows exponentially when you bring those together, because I'm more bought in, I feel personally engaged. Hey, this is really striving to, to deliver on what I value and what I think is important. I feel like I'm part of a bigger thing. And using that to then empower the delivery of financial services is, is, is really a fun thing to see at the banks and credit unions that have done it.

David Catalano: Yeah, I would agree with you. Another way to say what you were talking about earlier is words matter and the words you choose to use to explain initiatives in your organization are critically important in being sensitive to those, which gets back to emotional intelligence and how what we say and what we do and how we behave impacts those around us.

And that gets back to the capability of the people that you're hiring and making sure that they're capable of that leadership role with, uh, which you've assigned. If you're the CEO or if you are the CEO, maybe we're talking about that, that role. But at the end of the day, culture is, is incredibly, incredibly important.

And I actually, I would, um, advise anybody listening, if you are going to buy something big, like enterprise software for loan origination, commercial loan origination, like what we sell, get a sense of the company's culture, what is that culture like from the vendors you're working with? If you could figure that. You can probably figure out a way to differentiate that company from the others, meaning it could be to your advantage. Again, I said at the very beginning, you are not gonna be treated any better than those employees. So how are those employees being treated? How are the people writing software being treated, implementing software, um, leading the organization?

What's the sales culture? Is all, is all of that consistent. Talk to the people you'll be working with longer term and get a sense of how they feel about the organization. How long have they been there? And if it's a growing organization, don't expect them to be there a long time. But you shouldn't. You should find some folks that have been there a long time and the culture really can differentiate an organization and you should add that to your matrix for making a decision on what you buy.

Mitch Woods: I think some great points from, from both of you, both David and Bryan today, a great topic to talk about too. Culture, you know, there's been a big shift in the last few years on what does culture really mean at a company. You know, at first people were thinking ping pong tables in the break rooms, but now it really does come back down to what you all were talking about with the transparency and that engagement and that authenticity to really attract and, and retain that top talent. So thank you both for, for your insights today and thanks everyone out there listening to today's episode of Lending Made easy.