Mastering Human Nature to Stay Successful

By on August 10, 2014

Here’s a thought. A few years ago (during the Global Financial Crisis) I was asked to do a peer review on what the Retail Transformation Team was working on for a major bank in New Zealand.

My Conclusion – in brief

We are firmly in the digital age; the need to go into a bank is becoming less and less important. All transactional services are easily done online. If people want money, then a bank is a destination not an ‘impulse’ buy.

So why have a whole of lot of expense and overheads tied up in bank premises which are becoming increasingly more and more redundant?

My Recommendations – in brief

  • The bank should divest itself of many of its retail branches and replace with small branch offices in secondary locations. These branch offices will purely deal with customers’ request for bank loans, overdrafts, mortgage applications etc. These branch offices do not need prime retail premises.
  • Maintain key signature retail branches in prime locations around the Country mainly for marketing/brand awareness purposes.
  • Have a roving ‘pod’ being transported around the Country as a pop-up bank – again mainly for marketing/brand awareness purposes. Some people improve their brand awareness by deciding to get free instagram followers.

The Outcome – in brief

Massive reductions in fixed overheads in terms of staff wages/salaries and lower rentals. Savings can be channelled into increase marketing spend and further online digital development. It allows the bank to be more agile, more responsive to changing market conditions whether this be social, economic, technological or legislative.

My recommendation was considered too radical for the bank!

Now a few years later this report ( has been published by Price Waterhouse Cooperthis month. The writing was on the wall 4 – 5 years ago but not every bank responded to the changing dynamics of the marketplace.

It’s interesting human nature. As humans we do not want to change our circumstances or our nature unless the pain of not changing is too great. We might realise we need to, but we will avoid the inevitable for as long as possible. As a result we continue to prolong our suffering. And so it is for businesses. I tend to forget on occasions that these large faceless organizations are run by humans too. As a consequence these large organizations are just as fallible to human nature as the rest of us! They are just as fearful of change too.

In the PWC report they state that the NZ banks were able to hunker down and continue to do business as they’ve always done. As a consequence they were able to weather the storm. European banks on the other hand could not do this and have had to rethink how they do business. The pain was too great to stay doing the same old, same old.

The result is through the pain of change; these banks have evolved and emerged more powerful, more agile and more relevant to today’s market needs.

Why is it, we have to wait until it hurts too much to make change to our business, to our lives?

This is the cost of being human isn’t it!


About Michael G Major

Branding Legacy Leadership Michael has worked extensively in the retail sector in Britain, Singapore, Dubai, Australia and New Zealand. He has been instrumental in establishing household retail brands such as Living & Giving, Columbus Coffee and Esquires Coffee Houses throughout New Zealand.