If you or someone you know is a Harry Potter fan then you’re probably familiar with Harry’s archenemy Lord Voldemort – or “He Who Must Not Be Named.” Voldemort is SO scary and SO evil that every other wizard but Harry won’t use his name for fear of inadvertently summoning this darkest of dark spirits.

The banking world currently has a Lord Voldemort that many are struggling with – only in our very real Muggles world; it’s called a Cease and Desist Order.

It’s a common belief among otherwise level-headed, very brave bankers that one should never speak that term aloud to employees or customers. If you just don’t use the term then no one will find out and maybe this Dark Lord will just quietly go away. Don’t talk about it, the thinking goes, and it will be like it never really happened.

In the cold light of day, we all know how realistic that is. By not talking about it, these bankers invest the term – and the order – with even more power. It’s even scarier.

When employees hear about it or customers read about it in the paper – and they will – they’ll wonder what it means and what dark secrets you’re covering up. Even worse, absent any explanation or information from management, they jump to the logical, totally wrong conclusion – the bank is closing. At the very least, they wonder why their bank wasn’t upfront and honest with them. Trust takes a blow to the solar plexus.

Not talking about bad things just makes those bad things worse.

So what should you do if Lord Cease-and-Desist visits your bank?

The first thing to do is to gird your loins and prepare to win the battle – and your most powerful weapon against darkness is information.

Strike first and be strategic. You don’t need supernatural wizarding powers; you need a plan to defeat the Dark Lord Cease-and-Desist. Communicate with your shareholders, employees and customers. Tell them what the term means – and what it does not mean. It doesn’t mean “cease and desist operations.” It does mean that the bank is required to stop certain policies or procedures that you practiced in the past – policies and procedures that you’ve undoubtedly already stopped.

Be brave, open and prepared. Diffuse the power behind the term; get that out of the way so you can address what your stakeholders really want to know – how you’re prepared to serve their needs for years to come.

Hope for the Best But Prepare for the Worst

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