Is Your Bank Ready for a Merger?


Your bank has just announced that it is being acquired by another bank, and you wonder if this is going to be a smooth transition, or an experience in financial services hell. Maybe your bank just announced they are acquiring another bank and taking over the operation and you wonder if it will be better or worse than the last time they acquired a bank.

You see, when two banks merge they affect the lives of employees and customers on both sides of the transaction. Yet unless it is a major acquisition, very little attention is given to the human elements of a transaction. The big banks seem to realize the impact more so they do a better job of transitioning.

In my corporate life, I experienced a lot of bank mergers. Only twice was I working for the acquiring bank, while the rest of those experiences were from the side closing down. When your side is being acquired, you are at the mercy of the buyer and how well they want this merger to go. If they are focused as a management team on making the experience easy for employees and customers then everyone will get through this with a minimum of heartache. But if they have their head in the clouds, assuming someone on the team is watching the ball, this is going to be a cluster of mistakes.

As I narrow down the focus of who is in charge of making a merger successful, you may think I’m now done because I just made the senior management team the star players. But actually, there are two specific individuals that are really the focus; The HR Director and the Training Director. You may have different titles, but you understand the two people I am talking about.

The HR Director of the acquiring bank must reassure all the new folks of their chances of employment, and the roles they are playing as soon as possible, otherwise people you wanted to keep will leave for more stable environments. And of course the folks you wanted to lay off will stay put. Salaries, Benefits, and basically all new employee information need to be discussed before the merger is final so people know where they stand. I realize that this is touchy, but buying future loyalty begins early.

The Training Director is the make it or break it person in a bank merger. This person, given the bank’s goals for this merger, should be able to draft a complete training plan within a week. How many branches are we keeping? Which departments are we merging and which ones will go away on merger day? How many managers need to learn our processes? How many total employees need to go through introductory orientation training? How will we train culture? What was their history on all compliance training and do we need to do catch up or just integrate into our schedule?

The Training Director should be able to present this plan to the senior management team in writing after a week without being asked. Yes you read that correctly. If your training director needs to be asked to create a training plan after a merger has been announced, then you do not have the right person in charge.


Yesterday you made your grand announcement to the world. Today it is time to begin the work if you want a successful outcome! If you need help, let me know.

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