BY BRUCE A CLAPP
For credit union success and growth, mergers and acquisitions quickly and efficiently get the job done. They do so by easing both new market expansion and new technology incorporation, but there are critical action steps that must take place for them to go off without a hitch. Find out what those steps are.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) have long been a strategic method for both banks and credit unions to strengthen and/or maintain their position in the marketplace. For credit unions, the motivation may be a bit different – it may be a strategic merger of equals in a new market, a fill-in for existing markets or a collaboration of two like-minded credit unions. However, for both banks and CUs, mergers and acquisitions – coupled with strong organic growth – are an important tool for sustainable success and growth.
M&As are considered a relatively fast and efficient way to expand into new markets and incorporate new technologies. However, amid bank and credit union failures, rising compliance costs and a shrinking pool of targets, success in merger integration must take precedence.
For a successful merger to occur, there are critical action steps that must take place – leading up to the transaction, continuing through the process and following – to ensure financial, cultural and organizational success and an efficient integration.
Merger/Acquisition/Consolidation Partner Identification
As with any “dance,” you always dance with who brought you. In this case, the dance partner is a merger candidate that needs to fit a profile. Your profile has been uniquely developed and refined for your organization. A dance partner that fits you may not fit another organization and vice versa.
When you think about your profile, you should think of some or all of the following characteristics:
- Culture: Does the organization’s culture mesh with yours?
- Geography: Does the footprint of the partner fit within your current geographic reach, extend it or complement it?
- Size: This is uniquely your variable. Some financial institutions are more comfortable with only smaller transactions, some with equal. Still others seek larger partners.
- Segment: Does the member base complement yours, provide a new base or expand the reach of your current member base, as noted by product use?
- Asset or liability sensitivity: Does your partner complement your balance sheet strengths?
- Understandable financials: Make sure you get a clear, concise and understandable financial position from a potential partner.
- Leadership: Does the organization have leaders who can add bench strength to your organization?
- Product/Innovation: Does the organization have a product, service or technology advancement that fills an opportunity gap for you?
So … what does any of this have to do with marketing?
We have seen too many organizations get wrapped up in the financials of the deal and forget the “soft factors,” or intangibles, that can often derail a successful integration. The most notable is a cultural disconnect between the two organizations. Of course, every merger or acquisition must make financial sense; however, if the overall cultural fit is poor, it can overpower the financial potential of the deal and create an attrition problem with members and staff alike. This situation has the possibility to cause the financial projections to never reach their potential. Seeking a successful merger partner means thinking of the outcome at the beginning and ensuring all efforts are focused on reducing attrition, keeping key staff and laying the groundwork for a smooth transition of members to your institution.