Judging from Bruce G. Posner's description of Still water National Bank ("Smart Money," January), one can extract three clear principles. First, you must know your customer well -- not only his or her assets, but also his or her character. Second, it follows that you will not recognize a smart and ethical person able to live up to his or her commitments unless you are one yourself. Third, the competitive edge for banks is not only in satisfying the customer, but in doing so in a way that helps the customer solve problems.

Bob McCormick is a coach who teaches with hard work and experience, and by getting his students to reflect. With leadership that follows such principles, many banks would have avoided losses and, in the long run, given their shareholders a better return.