MY APPROACH TO BANK TECHNOLOGY CONSULTING

 

After five enjoyable and productive years at Industrial National Bank of Rhode Island (later named Fleet Financial Group and then acquired by Bank of America), I returned in 1974 to the consulting business. I like the idea of recommending workable solutions to problems, and then moving on to the next challenge. My initial strategy was to focus on bank automation, concentrate on small to medium size banks, operate a one-man practice, and avoid attempts to compete with the marketing strength possessed by large consulting firms. That strategy has served me well for 35 years, and it still works very well today. All my client engagements come through referrals or industry exposure. Even though I favored the small end of the market initially, in recent years, I have focused on the mid-tier banks. Several large banks have hired me also.


My practice is designed to serve a few clients each year. My services are priced fairly because there is no waste. I don't waste money on marketing. I don't spend money on idle support staff. I don't have a fancy office. I get plenty of work to fill my schedule. And I use proven methodologies that have worked effectively in real-world situations. I have 36 tools in my tool box which give me a great head start on every project. Everything I do is designed to convey knowledge to my clients so they can make the right decisions. That is true whether I'm working for one client, addressing an audience of hundreds of people, or publishing a report on technology. I teach. My clients implement the right solutions based on good knowledge.


I also believe that the title, consultant, means a lot more than just an intelligent warm body. I think consultants should be specialists in their field and they should know the answers about their clients' business.  They should be able to deliver specific knowledge to a client even on the first day.   I am a practicing consultant and that means I bring 45 years worth of business and technology insights to each client project. But I realize it's the current year's (sometimes month's) knowledge that clients are paying for. I think of consultants the way I think of surgeons.  If I go in for major surgery, I want to know the top surgeon in the country is going to do it. I don't want an intern. When I deliver recommendations to management, I know exactly what they are based on.  When bankers hire me they know who they are going to get because I am the only worker. I tell them firsthand what's going on in their organization because I worked with their employees as they performed their functions and as they used existing systems. When bank executives hear me tell of preposterous systems activities that are going on in their bank, they can't help but ask what evidence I have of a particular occurrence or deficiency. My typical answer is, "I watched Angie perform the  loan renewal process as I sat next to her."


Even though my proposals don't mention it, clients always get more than they expected. It doesn't happen by accident. I do it intentionally. I don't ever want to hear clients say they were disappointed. So I intentionally am short on promises and long on delivery. The delivery continues even after the engagement, whenever I feel there is something worth while to contribute. Much of this post-engagement delivery is unique and it comes up by surprise. So when clients ask for a little extra help, it's a welcomed signal for me to exercise my value-added philosophy and I enjoy it. 


I have excellent clients and I enjoy all my engagements. And I never forget clients because they represent lifelong relationships to me. Every client that implemented the recommendations of my core selection projects is still using the same system originally installed. If the choice is right, the system should grow and work forever, even though the name of it may have changed. 


My practice won't generate much revenue growth from one year to the next, and I probably won't do an IPO anytime soon, but quality of work will be high, references will be very positive, clients will be very pleased, and consistency of work will be assured. In addition, even though I owe nothing to bank examiners, I recognize they have a job to do, and I make sure they approve of my methods, procedures and documentation. Those are my criteria for success. This is how I conduct my consulting practice, stated as plainly as I can. I trust that this statement and the following pages will provide prospective clients with sufficient basis to judge whether I can be of service.


Thank you for your inquiry.


  1. M.Arthur Gillis



Return to top of page