Earlier this week, as part of Bank Director’s annual Bank Chairman/CEO Peer Exchange, I was lucky enough to spend time with key leaders from 40+ community banks averaging nearly $900M in asset size. As I reflect on various growth-focused conversations I had with CEOs of NASDAQ-listed banks, I think I’ve found a common thread. Each person runs an institution profitable enough to make acquisitions — all while maintaining adequate capital ratios. The interesting part (for me at least) concerns the strategies these executives set to build their brand and tactics put in place to “organically” grow their franchise. As our industry continues to rally back from the past few years of pessimism, it really is fun to hear success stories. So what follows are three thoughts from this week that builds on my time at the Four Seasons in Chicago.
- If you’re looking for a bank that is leading the field in terms of core income, net loans/leases and core non-interest income, look no further than Customers Bank*. While not in Chicago with us, it was interesting to read a Washington Business Journal report that the Pennsylvania based bank called off their merger agreement with Northern Virginia’s Acacia Federal Savings Bank yesterday. Maybe this falls into the category “sometimes the best deal is the one not done.” Yes, the D.C. market has some great community banks — Eagle Bank, Bank of Georgetown, etc. — but it appears that regulatory issues, more than competitive ones, kept this from happening. [*FWIW, Customers’ CEO will join us in a few weeks in New Orleans]
- While M&A offers immediate growth to the acquirer, I’m hearing that “stocking the bank for talent” is a real long-term challenge. While a bank’s CEO and Chairman must work even more closely to drive bottom line performance while enhancing shareholder value, I left Chicago convinced this team must more aggressively identify — and groom — the next generation of bank leadership. Without the big banks providing management training like they once did (an unintended pipeline of talent for community banks), its time to get creative. For example, while most at our event appreciate the need to get mobile, few community banks have the senior strategist on hand to do so right now. While that opens the door to outside advisors to support an institution, it does present longer term dangers as customers expect access to their banks sans branch or ATM use.
- Keeping on the tech-to-grow theme, I read an interesting “big data,” bank-specific piece by McKinsey on my way home to D.C. Personally, I’ve been interested in the various tools and tactics banks employ to analyze their massive amounts of data to detect/prevent fraud, devise customer loyalty plans and proactively approach consumers. This overview, complete with video, touch on these points and show how some are using big data and analytics to sharpen risk assessment and drive revenue.
Aloha Friday to all, especially my niece and sister-in-law on their birthdays.