Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Three Levels of Business Bankers

Community bankers hunt aggressively for experienced lenders to grow their loan portfolios. I outlined a Business Banker job description in a prior post based on what I hear from bankers about what they expect from that position. 

You can't teach an old dog new tricks. If that job description represents our ideal, then we have a long way to go to develop the type of business bankers that will drive our bank forward. Instead of striving for our ideal, we continue to pluck old-school lenders from competitors because we need our pipelines filled now, not two years from now. So I opined to a community bank client what I thought was a healthy composition of business bankers.

Note I mention banker composition, not loan composition. For risk management purposes, we are accustomed to managing the mix of loans on our books. We may not be as accustomed to managing the mix of employees responsible for generating those loans. I put Business Banker composition in three categories.

1.  The Fat Cat

Don't contact my HR department. This is not commentary on his or her body composition. It's more a testimony as to the size of the Fat Cat's portfolio. It's usually large (typically > $50 million). And size does matter. Because of the large portfolio, this lender comes with a high number of relationships, and little time for meaningless meetings and all of your chatter about "total relationships" and "core deposits". Their portfolio is large and profitable, and they know it. Their salary is high and the bonus pool is flush. They are not as concerned about growing their portfolio as they are about maintaining it. They might be open to sharing smaller relationships with more junior business bankers, but not because they are the best team players. They simply don't have time to deal with lower balance customers, and they know that balances drive their bonus pool. They are also hesitant to bring other bankers into their relationships, for fear they may screw them up.

2.  The Builder

This person has a mid-range portfolio, somewhere in the $25-$50 million range. They take their growth goals seriously. Because they see the Fat Cats reaching critical mass and milking those portfolios into retirement. They want that too! So they leverage their relationships into more relationships such as calling on COI's they met at the latest Chamber mixer. This group may also be willing to take the junior business banker under their wing. They are not so far removed from the "junior" status that they lack empathy for the Up and Comers. Unlike the Fat Cats, this group tend to be better team players, because they may have greater organizational ambitions other than to be a Fat Cat.

3.  The Up and Comer

This person came from the branch manager, credit analyst, or portfolio manager ranks. They received a taste of the life of a business banker in their former position and they liked it. They have small portfolios, typically well under $25 million. Community banks frequently have inadequate support structures to nurture the Up and Comer. They have no mentoring programs, little in terms of formal training, and even less in terms of patience and the ability to carry "non-producing" producers for any significant period. But the Up and Comer can be the Builder and Fat Cats of the future, if the community bank thought farther than the current budget into the future. Another benefit of populating your Business Banker ranks equally with Up and Comers is instead of taking more experienced ones from competitors and inheriting their way of doing things, this group grew up in your way of doing things. 

If your Business Banker ranks were built by you, first as Up and Comers, steeped in your bank's way, that grew into Builders and Fat Cats, would you be better capable of moving your bank forward?

~ Jeff


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