Pub. 8 2020 | Issue 3


The Bottom Line

It’s important to all of us that bankers make good loans. Not just loans that get paid back, but those that drive growth and progress. This fuels our economy and increases the resources we have to make more loans and build our community.

As I have watched the best bankers make the best loans, I have observed something that I think could benefit everyone — their ability to patiently listen, quietly analyze and objectively differentiate between bluff and bluster and real, tangible results.

Every day, bankers are presented with loan requests that are compelling, exciting, full of promise, and promoted by impressive, charismatic individuals. But often, the details just don’t add up. The substance of the proposal, particularly the measurable results, just doesn’t pencil.

Unfortunately, this same discipline is lacking in our political system. The inability of voters to differentiate between compelling narratives and actual results has led to dysfunction in our government programs and injected poison into our political process. We continue to reward failure and incentivize corruption because many voters seem more wed to defending their preferred narratives than demanding success that improves lives.

Making matters worse, it is getting harder for voters to obtain accurate information about what constitutes success and failure. Our media has found it is more profitable to create and feed our favored narratives than to report what is happening in the world.
If bankers ignore the results of their decisions, they will inevitably lose more money, and their bank and community will suffer. Likewise, when voters ignore the actual results of bad policy, we get more bad results and people suffer. Rational people learn from their mistakes and change course. Those who ignore results that conflict with their preferred narrative care more about their fragile egos than they do about people.

Pearson’s law teaches us that when performance is measured, performance improves. And when performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates. But our political system is regressing because rather than being accountable to actual results, politicians have attempted to eliminate any rational measurement of their performance and have come to rely exclusively on those who blindly defend their common narrative for re-election. The results are not good for anyone.

The beauty of the American system is that it is never too late to reverse course. Our current regression can all stop as soon as voters are willing to set aside their pet narratives and focus on results. This will naturally occur when people are in enough pain that their appetite for results exceeds their need for being right. The more fortunate of us will forgo that pain and proactively observe the approach of the banker and patiently listen, quietly analyze and objectively differentiate between the bluff and bluster and the desired results — and reward the results! Vote wisely.


Howard Headlee
Utah Bankers Association

This story appears in Issue 3 2020 of the Utah Banker Magazine.