Why Don’t Poor People Have Bank Accounts?

Posted by amy.

I was a junior partner at a big consulting firm.  The team was meeting with the CEO of a large bank and we were making the pitch for new business.  We had our big PowerPoint presentation ready to go. The presentation was full of Gantt Charts, flow diagrams, Venn Diagrams, and all other manner of models.  The deck might have included flux capacitors. We were ready to explore assessment, analysis, and recommendations. Before we could even turn the projector on, the CEO stopped us and said…

“I have a question for you.  I know you are all smart and can make lots of recommendations based on your analysis, so here is my question: Why don’t poor people have bank accounts?”

At first, I thought it was a trick question to throw us off before the real presentation.  But it wasn’t. I thought to myself, “They don’t have bank accounts because they don’t have any money”.  I never said it out loud and I was glad I didn’t.

The bank CEO continued, “I don’t need to see your PowerPoint, I am sure it is fine.  Go see if you can find some good answers to my simple question.” And with that, off we went.

At this point in the post, I could go into all kinds of analytical tools that we used to come up with answers but that doesn’t matter.  And there are many factors that are part of the equation including cultural background, geography, race, and education to name a few. But the biggest finding and the one that matters most is that the simple question had a simple answer.  The answer is, poor people don’t have bank accounts because they don’t or won’t go into banks.  

Yep, at the time, poor people did not go into banks because the facilities, the locations, the staff, the parking, the forms were all just too intimidating for a person with modest means.  The CEO who asked the original question had a suspicion that was the case and we validated it. The solution? Open bank branches in “other” spaces like in grocery stores or other retail outlets.  And poor people opened bank accounts.

I am not taking credit for disrupting the banking industry.  I am bringing attention to two key points:

  • First, never make broad assumptions about any group of people.  The banking industry had made assumptions that people with modest means did not want or need a bank.   It was incorrect. Everyone wants and needs credit cards and checking and savings accounts and the like.  So ask yourself, is your organization making broad assumptions about customers or employees or partners? You may be surprised.
  • Second, the really basic organizational questions need to be posed constantly.  Questions like: Is there a better way to do what we have been doing for so long?  Can we disrupt our own business? Can we change this ingrained culture? Can we get our people to change?  Can we serve customers better? Again, you may be surprised.

The world is full of stories of positive changes that occurred when people asked the most basic questions and created challenges.  Ask more questions.

Can Everything Be Disrupted?

Posted by amy.

Who knew that the potato chips market could be disrupted? When PopChips (https://www.popchips.com/) was introduced a few years ago the snack food market had to think about health and calories. Now, I see there are a bunch of new entrants (Tommy John, Mack Weldon and others ) into the men’s underwear department who are disrupting that business. It never occurred to me each morning as I was putting my underwear on that there was something to be disrupted.

But, it is happening. Disruption is all around us and is changing our lives for the good. New modes of transportation, new foods, new processes for nearly everything, new payment methods, new clothing, new devices, new content delivery modes…holy smokes.

When most people, even entrepreneurs, think of disruption, they are likely to think of concepts and products like the iPhone or Netflix or Skype. Think again. The new round of disruption is happening closer to home.

Just in the last few months, I talked to entrepreneurs who are disrupting the way we buy clothes that fit online. I have met with entrepreneurs who are disrupting the way schools raise money by replacing the dreaded bake sale and subscription drive. I met with an entrepreneur who is disrupting the market for drinking tea. The list goes on.

So, just when you think all the good ideas are taken, look around the room. The next big disruptive idea might be under your nose. We are living in a world where nothing is safe from disruption.

Have an idea for a better mousetrap?

Thoughtful Reasons Why I May Be Keeping My Job Right Now

Posted by amy.

  1. My Amazon package has yet to arrive.
  2. The IT Guy knows my name.
  3. I finally figured out the coffee maker.
  4. Free coffee.
  5. It’s almost payday.
  6. I will call in sick next week.
  7. I feel sick.
  8. I have health benefits.
  9. Someday I will understand my benefits.
  10. It’s almost Labor Day Weekend.
  11. I know where the best bathroom is located.
  12. I like the bathroom.
  13. Free WIFI.
  14. Change scares me.
  15. The guy next to me always has red licorice.
  16. We might start a volleyball team.
  17. The economic bubble might burst.
  18. I know shortcuts on the commute.
  19. I know where the bathrooms are on my commute.
  20. The 401K Plan is good.
  21. My 401K needs attention from someone who understands it.
  22. It’s almost lunchtime.
  23. Lunch is free.
  24. My stock may be vesting.
  25. The project management tool is my friend.
  26. The secret parking place in the underground garage.
  27. It’s almost my birthday.
  28. The Holiday Party is a riot.
  29. My desk is organized.
  30. It’s ok to use an imoji here.
  31. Maybe I should go back to school to learn to code.
  32. Recruiters are not calling me.
  33. My LinkedIn profile is not up to date.
  34. No one is checking out my LinkedIn profile.
  35. I sort of like my boss.
  36. My boss doesn’t like performance reviews and gives everyone an OK.
  37. The printer is always full of paper.
  38. My ID photo is a good one.
  39. Accrued vacation is zero.
  40. I need a vacation soon.
  41. A new job would require filling out tax forms.
  42. A new job would require meeting all new people.
  43. I think I will check Facebook.
  44. Wow, are they having fun.
  45. It’s not the right time.
  46. I haven’t done anything to look for a new job.