A SWOT analysis of a bank formally evaluates the financial institution's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This analysis identifies these four main elements to help upper management better leverage its strengths to take advantage of future business opportunities while better understanding its operational weaknesses to combat threats to potential growth. A SWOT analysis can also address many other scenarios, such as new business initiatives, marketing budgets or even advertising campaigns, and is a valuable tool in bank management.
Identifying Existing Strengths
In the area of strengths, a SWOT analysis should list the areas where the bank is succeeding and excelling in reaching its goals. These successes should also be internal components reflective of the bank's physical and human resources. For example, a bank's strengths may be its high client retention, higher than average checking account balances, high-yield bond rates, a user-friendly website, product line diversification, low staff turnover and low overhead. These strengths are areas where a bank will want to continue to maintain the status quo.
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Addressing Underlying Weaknesses
The weaknesses in a bank's SWOT analysis should list the areas where the bank is falling short of reaching its goals or is non-competitive. These areas of improvement should also be internal components reflective of the bank's physical and human resources. For example, a bank's weaknesses may be low customer satisfaction, poor website features, low staff morale, high loan rates, low brand recognition or a minimal product line. In order to remain competitive, a bank should focus on these areas of weakness to improve its performance.
Realizing Potential Opportunities
The opportunities section in a bank's SWOT analysis should list the areas where the bank has room for growth or could take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace. These areas ripe for development should be external components reflective of the current business environment. For example, a bank's opportunities may include a growing economy, new high-yield investment products, banking deregulation, less competitors in the marketplace or an increase in the average savings rate. Identifying and capitalizing on these areas of potential opportunity helps to keep a bank competitive.
Assessing Possible Threats
The threats component in a bank's SWOT analysis should list the areas where the bank has the potential to decline or be harmed by other factors in the marketplace. These factors should also be external components reflective of the current business environment. For example, a bank's threats may include a declining economy, increased capital gains taxes, more competitors in the marketplace, high unemployment or an increase in insurance rates. Although external threats such as the aforementioned cannot always be avoided, having awareness of possible threats allows the bank to try and mitigate them.
Creating the SWOT Analysis Grid
A SWOT analysis is a two-by-two spreadsheet where the four categories are individually listed in one of the four spreadsheet boxes. The weaknesses will appear in the top-right box, and the threats will appear in the bottom-right box. The strengths will appear in the top-left box, and the opportunities will appear in the bottom-left box. Identifying a bank's internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats ensures things are progressing in the most optimal way possible.