Most bankers are so bad at problem-solving it’s funny.

Most bankers are so bad at problem-solving it’s funny.

I learned that within DAYS of entering the banking world.

It was late 2006 and I had joined GE’s ‘Pilot Project’ to try out for their Corporate Audit Staff.

The entire goal was to push you out of your comfort zone.

I had only been an engineer at that point,

So naturally, I had to join a team auditing a credit card business.

Something I knew nothing about.

In fact, that’s when I learned that a Kohl’s credit card isn’t actually run through Kohl’s…

Kohl’s just partners with a private-label card issuer that gives them a good deal. – some profit sharing or a formal JV.


My first assignment was a balance sheet audit on the fixed assets of the business.

Turns out, 97% of the fixed assets were the Verifone Terminals that we sent to businesses for them to process purchases.

$25M worth of them.

I had to make sure this was fairly stated on the balance sheet.

I asked around how I might do this and got some crazy suggestions.

“What if you took a sample of all of them,
Called them up,
Asked them to run a test transaction on their terminal,
See if it goes through,
Then extrapolate that out for an estimate of how many are active.”

I think I’ll talk to IT instead.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out:

1️⃣ Every terminal has a unique ID
2️⃣ We had a list of all of these and who they belonged to
3️⃣ Every time one of them transacts, it gets logged into a database

So I got those 2 files,

Sent them to a friend that I knew had code to marry the sheets up to each other and within minutes I knew that 93% of the terminals transacted in the last 6 months.

4% had been sent out in the last 3 months.

And 3% were unaccounted for.

When it comes time to solve problems in your bank,

It’s usually best that you don’t think like a banker…

Digging deep on banks is what I do.

🔔 Follow Brian on Linkedin: Brian Pillmore




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