How Banks of All Sizes Are Winning the Talent Wars

Several years ago, as part of a bid to stay ahead of the competitive curve in talent, Zions Bank set out to reinvent a robust but fairly traditional bank employment culture. The regional bank is now finding that those investments in talent are making it possible for the company to compete as the bank talent wars heat up.  With unemployment down to 4.1 percent—a level … Continue reading How Banks of All Sizes Are Winning the Talent Wars

Making Miracles in Memphis

Viewed from Pitt and Barbara Hyde’s office perched on the bluffs of ­Memphis, the Mississippi River appears to meander lazily on its way. But appearances can deceive. The river’s smooth, muddy surface hides a powerful flow of more than 300,000 cubic feet each second, moving boats along at a rate of up to three miles per hour amid threatening eddies and undercurrents. Barbara and Pitt—winners … Continue reading Making Miracles in Memphis

Nine Young Bankers Who Changed America

Early in 2016, while tracing the history of U.S. savings banks for an article I was writing on their bicentennial, I was intrigued by the stories of two of the founders of the savings bank movement: Philadelphian Condy Raguet and Bostonian James Savage. Both were 32 when, in 1816, they founded the first American savings banks in their respective hometowns. In addition to their contributions … Continue reading Nine Young Bankers Who Changed America

A Handcrafted Banking Turnaround

The year was 2011, and Blaine Jackson faced a tough choice. The then-34-year-old and his young family were seeking to relocate from Atlanta’s northwestern suburbs to Charlotte, N.C. Jackson was the chief financial officer at a struggling community bank in Woodstock, right in the “ring of death,” as the circle of failing banks around Atlanta was known in the years shortly after the financial crisis. … Continue reading A Handcrafted Banking Turnaround

Pillar of Her Community

Dorothy Savarese tells a story about a humbling discovery she made shortly after moving to Cape Cod and how it reflects the heart of community banking.

She already had 16 years of experience in economic development and at a large regional bank in the Midwest. She had taught credit analysis on a national basis. So when she arrived on the Cape and started work as a commercial lender at the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, “I looked at the credits here and the way they had been written up in the past, and they certainly didn’t meet my standards of documentation or credit underwriting,” she says—noting that they were short on financial analysis and long on character analysis.

“One of the things they had used long before I arrived to judge the creditworthiness of a customer was how neat their woodpile was,” she says. “If they did not have a neat woodpile, they would not make a loan to that customer.”

Continue reading “Pillar of Her Community”

How Bank Startups Build Leaders

The year is only half past, but 2016 is well on its way to joining 2011, 2012 and 2014 in a dubious distinction: a year that zero new U.S. banks were chartered. As consolidation of existing banks continues, many have observed that the lack of new banks reflects burdensome regulatory compliance, an inhospitable interest rate environment, excessive capital requirements, an insufficiently robust economy—or some mixture of all of these.

In his classic 1946 book Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt writes that economics “is the science of tracing the effects of some proposed or existing policy not only on some special interest in the short run, but on the general interest in the long run.” And thus, while the drought of de novo banks will ripple through the American economy, it will have subtle, significant and virtually unexplored long-run effects on the next generation of bank leadership. Continue reading “How Bank Startups Build Leaders”

Comfort Food

By 12:30 p.m. on M Street in downtown Washington, D.C., Bub and Pop’s sandwich shop is buzzing. The line to order stretches out the door of the little shop, which is housed in a brightly colored English basement in a converted rowhouse.

At the counter, owner Arlene Wagner takes orders and rings up customers with a smile and no-nonsense speed (plus a special thanks if they pay with cash). Just behind Wagner, her son and co-owner Jon Taub serves up massive, juicy hoagies with homemade potato chips. Diner favorites include a braised beef brisket sandwich with apple-horseradish cream, aged Gouda, and veal jus, or an Italian hoagie topped with four kinds of meat and Jon’s spicy homemade relish. Continue reading “Comfort Food”

Banking in the Sweet Spot

If you had to describe Jim Edwards’ bank, you might say it’s in the sweet spot—in virtually every way.

United Bank is a $1.1 billion bank based in central Georgia. Its footprint stretches from rural farm areas to the Atlanta exurbs. It’s a full-service bank, offering consumer products, mortgages, business loans and services, cash management and investment services, but “we try to do that with that small-bank, high-touch feel,” says Edwards.
United has grown into a classic community bank with a strong future orientation. Edwards’ colleagues and customers agree: as United has grown, Edwards is a model for community bankers in the 21st century. Continue reading “Banking in the Sweet Spot”