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Bracing for Change:
7 Important Lessons from the Collapse of Silicon Valley Bank

By Sarah Tijou|15th May 2023

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a series of high-profile bank failures, a volatile stock market, and global banking concerns, culminating in the abrupt closure of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) in March.  

SVB was once a significant player in the tech startup industry and ranked 16th among all US banks. However, after it was forced to sell bonds at a loss, its stock price crashed and depositors began to panic, leading to a classic bank run.  

This event marked the second-largest bank failure in US history, with the third largest occurring just days later when Signature Bank ceased operations. 

Table of Contents

So, in a continuously uncertain landscape, what lessons can we learn from this? 1
1. Financial services providers must be proactive and holistic in their approach to change 2
2. Prioritize people, processes, and technology 3
3. Harness the power of data and drive successful change initiatives 3
4. Elevate your metrics across the board 4
How to approach change with Metrics 4
5. Upholding ethical standards is critical 5
6. Build a resilient talent strategy for a competitive edge 5
7. Think ahead: Develop robust frameworks for cryptocurrency integration 5
The future is now 6


So, in a continuously uncertain landscape, what lessons can we learn from this?  

We found out what lessons we can learn during GDS Group’s recent Banking North America virtual summit. During the event, we heard from Reka Mishra, Finance COO and Head of Strategy and LFI Program Office at Silicon Valley Bank now a division of First Citizens Bank.  

With over twenty years of experience in areas such as strategy, operations, technology, transformation and change, governance, and risk management, Reka shared her personal thoughts (*not those of SVB) on bracing for change. 

Here are her seven key lessons learnt from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank… 


1. Financial services providers must be proactive and holistic in their approach to change

Reka says the financial services industry is no stranger to change. Over the years, it has witnessed technological advancements, regulatory reforms, shifting customer expectations, and evolving market dynamics.

“Change is happening rapidly these days.”
Reka Mishra, Finance COO and Head of Strategy and LFI Program Office at SVB

However, in recent times, the pace of change has accelerated dramatically, presenting unique challenges and opportunities for organizations operating in this sector. The COO says “Gone are the days when things would take time to evolve. We need to have very quick reaction times for this change.”

To navigate this rapidly evolving landscape successfully, financial services providers must adopt a proactive and holistic approach, ready for anything. Reka says, “Change can come from transformation, it can come from disruption, mergers, and acquisitions, and new technologies. A lot is happening in the world and it’s impacting all of us fairly quickly.

“When you are planning your strategy, you need to keep all these factors in mind that could be a trigger for a change, whatever you are planning for your organization. You need to go above and beyond and start planning just in case these triggers change the outcome, which could be totally unplanned.

“Reviewing the strategy on a quarterly basis, and making adjustments, accordingly, are key components to ensure that you’re keeping up with change and you are being responsive. You need to take the time to adjust hyper agility, planning, process, and strategy.”

During her keynote presentation, Reka shared insights on the Change Transition Curve. “Everybody goes through these series of events above. The time window for all these feelings and emotions during any process has become very short. Changes are happening in spurts of a couple of hours, a couple of days, and they are impacting you, your clients, your employees.”

2. Prioritize people, processes, and technology.

To be successful in the current economy, and the current environment, Reka says, “you need to focus on your people, process, and technology, which has always been most important triangle. It is critical to ensure that you bring all these elements to the table together.”

“You have to move fast. You have to be solid and robust. So how do you do it?”

Effective change management involves creating a culture that is open to new ideas, encouraging innovation, and fostering agility. Financial services providers should invest in change management initiatives that include comprehensive communication strategies, stakeholder engagement, and training programs to support employees in adapting to new technologies and processes.

By adopting a proactive approach to change management, organizations can minimize resistance, optimize operational efficiency, and seize emerging opportunities. The COO believes, “Change management is what is going to give assurance to your team, to your clients, and to your various stakeholders.

“Have digital agility to make things happen in rapid spots and then be comprehensive of people, process, technology, and data. Be truly surrounded by robust governance, compliance, and risk management systems too.”

3. Harness the power of data and drive successful change initiatives

The significance of data cannot be overstated when it comes to driving successful change initiatives. Data serves as the foundation for informed decision-making and effective transformation. From the very beginning of the change process, it is crucial to have access to comprehensive and reliable data.

“Data is the key for any successful change”

Reka says, “I cannot emphasize the importance of data. … And you need to have data from the get-go. The availability of accurate and high-quality data is vital for driving insights and enabling organizations to make well-informed strategic choices.

The Silicon Valley Bank COO adds, “You need to have solid data and analytics before you get on a journey of change.” She justifies to the summit audience that by leveraging both, businesses can identify patterns, trends, and opportunities that can guide their change journey.

In essence, a solid data and analytics framework forms the bedrock for any successful change endeavor. As the COO explains, it enables organizations to harness the power of data-driven insights, make informed decisions, and navigate the complexities of change with greater confidence. By placing data at the core of the change process, businesses can unlock new metrics to drive transformative outcomes.

4. Elevate your metrics across the board

As the financial services industry evolves, traditional metrics may no longer provide a comprehensive view of success. Organizations should adapt their performance measurement frameworks to align with changing business models and customer expectations.

Over the years, Reka explains how surprising and shocking it can be when people ask for guidance because their transformation has not been successful. “My first question is always ‘what were your key metrics?’ ‘How were you measuring silence?’ And that’s where things start to crumble.”

The COO illustrates that metrics should include not only financial indicators but also non-financial ones, such as customer satisfaction, digital adoption rates, and employee engagement. By leveraging a balanced set of metrics, financial institutions can gain a holistic understanding of their performance and make informed strategic decisions.

How to Approach Change with Metrics

Reka emphasizes that a crucial first step in embracing change is to clearly define the key areas or metrics that will be tracked throughout the transformation process. This could involve focusing on employee enablement, where the goal is to streamline processes and reduce manual tasks, thus freeing up time for employees to “concentrate on more strategic initiatives aligned with the overall organizational strategy.”

Alternatively, it could be centered around risk avoidance or identifying opportunities to enhance customer satisfaction. By establishing these metrics, organizations can evaluate the impact of their investments and measure the outcomes achieved because of the change initiatives.

Reka highlights the importance of understanding the rationale behind the need for investment in digitization and transformation efforts. While some companies may question the budget allocation, it is essential to recognize that change requires investment.

By leveraging digital tools and technologies, organizations can drive efficiency, improve performance, and meet the evolving demands of the market. By clearly articulating the purpose and expected returns on investment, companies can justify the need for change and ensure that resources are allocated effectively.

And by defining the key metrics, understanding the drivers behind change, and justifying the investment required, companies can navigate the transformative journey successfully and reap the benefits of digitization and organizational evolution. Reka says, “That’s why I think metrics is an absolute fundamental thing. It should not be an afterthought; it should be part of the initial business case of change.”

Reka’s Key Questions:

  • Where is that data residing?
  • What’s going to be the budget?
  • Why do we need investment?
  • What are the key metrics defining your success?

5. Upholding ethical standards is critical.

The next lesson from the SVB executive is all about ethics. Ethics form the foundation of any successful business, and the financial services industry is no exception. In a time of transformation, it becomes even more critical to uphold ethical standards. This involves maintaining transparency, ensuring fair treatment of customers, and safeguarding data privacy and security.

As Reka explains, “You have to think about cyber security. Privacy is the same thing with AI. You want to move faster with it, but what’s the ethics involved in it?” Financial institutions must establish robust compliance frameworks and invest in ethical training programs to cultivate a strong ethical culture within their organizations.

By adhering to high ethical standards, finance service providers can enhance trust and credibility, both of which are essential for long-term success, and attractive to new talent.

6. Build a resilient talent strategy for a competitive edge.

“One of the key factors for transformation and digitization growth is talent.” Says Reka. In an era of rapid technological advancement, the demand for skilled professionals in the financial services industry is evolving. Finance service providers need to attract, develop, and retain top talent with the right skill sets to stay competitive.

The COO says, “You need to be keeping up with the rest of the competition.” Emphasizing continuous learning and reskilling programs can help attract employees, who also need to adapt to fast-emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and data analytics.

Additionally, fostering diversity and inclusion within the workforce can enable organizations to better serve a diverse customer base and bring in fresh perspectives and new ideas for the future.

7. Think ahead: Develop robust frameworks for cryptocurrency integration.

Bracing for change in the financial services industry has become increasingly crucial as disruptive cryptocurrencies gain momentum and capture widespread attention. Financial institutions must prepare themselves to adapt to this emerging asset by developing robust frameworks for cryptocurrency integration, compliance, and risk management.

“I think the industry is ready for disruption.”

The future of banking is digital, so traditional banks must embrace this and invest in technology infrastructure to remain competitive. By proactively addressing the impact of cryptocurrencies and embracing the future of banking, financial services providers can position themselves for success in the evolving financial landscape.

However, this comes with risk as Reka says. “With crypto, it all depends on regulation. It’s a risky space to be in; some banking organizations are adopting, and some are staying on the shore with it and seeing how it plays out. The key is going to be how it will get regulated. This will define the course of crypto, and the future.”

Reka’s Key Questions:

  • What will happen with crypto and which direction will it go as a disruptor?
  • How do we make sure that the infrastructure we have in place is going to be able to keep up with crypto?
  • How do you plan for those extra unique circumstances that can happen suddenly on any given day or time?

The Future is Now

By prioritizing ethics, embracing change management, nurturing talent, and adapting metrics, finance service providers can position themselves for success in the digital face of evolving market conditions.

By doing so, they can build resilient, customer-centric organizations that thrive in an increasingly digital and interconnected world. As Reka makes her final words in her keynote: “I can definitely assure that there’s going to be a ton of disruption in the traditional banking space for sure.”

Looking for ways to accelerate your sales cycles, engage in industry conversations, and achieve better outcomes? Look no further than our Summits – our unique 3-day virtual event experiences that bring together senior executives and solution providers.

Our recent Banking North America virtual summit had Reka as a speaker and ended with an impressive average content attendance of 93% and meeting completion rate of 106%.

Partnering with GDS Group can help you get in front of the right people at the right time.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend one of our unforgettable event experiences that promise to leave you feeling inspired and empowered.

Check our calendar now and join us. We can’t wait to see you there!

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