The right mix of qualities is crucial when
deciding who's going to lead your bank.
By TIMOTHY LOUGHLIN
Over the past year, Connecticut's banks have gone through a dizzying turnover in top management. Never before have so many bank presidents and senior officials come and gone in so short a time.
It's a sign of the times. Banks aren't the stody old-fashioned institutions they used to be, and bank management is now being held to the same standards as CEOs in other industries: in other words, they're expected to perform quarter after quarter, or they're in danger of being ousted pretty quickly.
That, however, presents a challenge to bank boards of directors, most of whom haven't had a lot of experience picking chief executive officers for their institutions -- it simply hasn't been something that's come up much before. But it's here now.
To help, here's a quick Top 10 checklist of what boards should be considering when weighing presidential Job candidates:
1. Experience Counts.
Look for a well rounded and diverse executive with broad experience in progressive management positions with commercial loan, consumer lending, administration, operations, marketing and financial knowledge.
2. Credit Savvy.
Without this, your bank can get into a lot of trouble. Your candidate should have excellent credit skills, and major bank credit training.
3. Reality Based.
Theories are wonderful things, but to run a bank, you want someone who knows what will actually work --- and what won't. A college education is a good start, but don't dismiss someone who doesn't have a college degree but does have 15 to 20 years of strong management experience.
A bank's president is its chief marketer, spokesman, and character. So your president's personality should be compatible with the community's. If you're in a gruff, no-nonsense town, you don't want a president who comes off as a theoretical academic, you want someone who isn't afraid to sit down for a drink with your customers at the local watering hole. On the other hand, if you were a bank in, say, Cambridge, Mass., a theoretical academic appearance probably wouldn't be too bad. 5. Good Negotiator. We live in a world of participative decision making and competitive salesmanship. The CEO must be decisive yet flexible.
6. Financially Astute.
A CEO must meet numerous accounting, regulatory and bank financial goals. The CEO must understand accounting well and understand how actions and proposed actions will impact financial goals.
The modern CEO operates in a fast changing environment. He must take actions today and plan for future actions that result in meeting marketplace and bank financial goals. He must be able to glean from the present a picture of the future and plan accordingly.
8. Technologically Conversant.
The CEO must be sufficiently technically informed to work constructively with his operational, financial and product delivery personnel in current operations of the institution and in planning for the future.
9. Problem Solver.
It is essential that the CEO be a good observer and listener, have broad and diverse banking and business knowledge, understand the decision-making process, and have the confrdence of those around him in garnering their thoughts. Ultimately, the CEO must be decisive.