7 Things Bank Boards Should Focus on

The world of corporate governance today has a brighter spotlight on boards of directors than ever before.

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The world of corporate governance today has a brighter spotlight on boards of directors than ever before. While bank regulatory relief has provided a long-awaited respite, bank examiners seem to be zeroing in on governance, director performance and board succession. Here are 7 things directors should have on their radar screens in the year ahead:

1. Defining Innovation. Digitization and innovation are the buzzwords, but truly embracing the transformations taking place all around us can be daunting. Pondering how technology has altered our client relationships and acquisitions means thinking out of the box, which may be a challenge for some directors and bank executives. A refresh of the bank’s website is not an innovation—it is table stakes. True innovative thinking requires more proactivity and planning, and likely some outside perspectives as well. Boards should encourage management to craft a plan to address to these challenges, which are key to remaining relevant.

<To read the Article in its published format, click here:  7 Things Bank Boards Should Focus on>

This Article appeared on September 10, 2018 on BankDirector.com.

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and talent advisory firm based in Philadelphia. Kaplan Partners is the country’s only retained executive search firm member of the ABA & ICBA. You can reach him at Alan@KaplanPartners.com or 610-642-5644.

Seven Secrets of Succession Success

A well-orchestrated plan of succession and leadership continuity reassures employees, investors and communities

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One of a bank board’s most vital responsibilities is overseeing the plan of succession for the CEO. Whether driven by a looming retirement or change in the incumbent’s personal timeline, a well-orchestrated plan of succession and leadership continuity reassures employees, investors and communities. Unfortunately,
too many bank boards still take a passive approach to CEO succession, rather than acknowledging that as directors, they are responsible for the selection and ongoing evaluation of CEO performance.

<To read the Article in its published format, click here: Seven Secrets of Succession Success>

This article appeared in the February 2018 issue of BankDirector.com, copyright 2018.

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and talent advisory firm based in Philadelphia. Kaplan Partners is the country’s only retained executive search firm member of the ABA & ICBA. You can reach him at alan@KaplanPartners.com or 610-642-5644.

Does Your Bank Have A Dream Team

Assessing Your Bank’s Leadership Team is the Foundation of Successful Succession Planning

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Many bank Boards of Directors and CEOs are proud of their bank’s executive team. And rightly so! Yet frequently those feelings of pride dissolve into uncertainty when the bank is faced with the decision to promote a banker into a top executive position or even the CEO role.

How does this happen? Why do well laid out succession plans sometimes evaporate in the face of reality when the time to elevate someone finally arrives? One of the reasons, based on our experience working with hundreds of community bank boards and executive teams, is that directors are often missing context when faced with a promotion decision. The lack of relative perspective on comparative candidates for similar roles may at times impede the comfort level necessary for a board to validate a promotion decision.

<To Read the Article in its published format, click here:  Dream Team Article A 8-2017>

This article appeared in the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers Publication in 2017.

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and talent advisory firm based in Philadelphia.  Kaplan Partners is the country’s only retained executive search firm member of the ABA & ICBA.  You can reach him at alan@KaplanPartners.com or 610-642-5644.

The Bank Director of the Future: Diversity of Experiences and Skill Sets Matter

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While the requirements needed in a bank leader today continue to evolve, the same can also be said for bank directors. Boards of directors today are under more scrutiny than ever before, whether from governance advisors, shareholders, Wall Street analysts, activist investors, community leaders and customers. Even mutuals and privately held institutions face more visible scrutiny around corporate governance from their regulators and key constituents. Serving as a bank director today may still have a certain amount of prestige (depending on whom you ask), but the expectations for director performance and engagement have never been higher.

Community banks in particular tend to have long tenured board members—in many cases with decades of service. Continuity can be a good thing, provided the director skill sets continue to be relevant and the board does not become too close to the CEO, compromising objectivity. However, many bank boards have begun to focus more on the “collective skills” represented around the board table, and have started to emphasize a skill-based approach in making director retention and recruiting decisions.

<To Read the Complete Article in its published format, Click here:     <The Bank Director of the Future Diversity of Experiences and Skill Sets>

The article appeared in the February 2017 issue of BankDirector.com, copyright 2017

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and talent advisory firm based in Philadelphia.  Kaplan Partners is the country’s only retained executive search firm member of the ABA & ICBA.  You can reach him at alan@KaplanPartners.com or 610-642-5644.

The Bank Executive of the Future: Agile and Focused on Talent

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Today’s bank leader remains under more pressure than at any time since the financial crisis. Tangible skills still matter, such as commercial credit experience, risk management and strategic planning.
Nevertheless, the real challenges may lie in developing the key leadership requirements for institutional success, and in the navigation of the managerial challenges which lie ahead. Here are three intangible but particularly important qualities for the future bank leader’s success.

<To Read the Complete Article in its published format, Click here:     <The Bank Executive of the Future Agile and Focused on Talent>

The Article appeared in the January 2017 issue of  BankDirector.com, Copyright 2017.

Alan J. Kaplan is founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and talent advisory firm based in Philadelphia. Kaplan Partners is the country’s only retained executive search firm member of the ABA & ICBA. You can reach him at alan@KaplanPartners.com or 610-642-5644.

Meet the New Bank Executive

<To View the Article in its published format, click here:  Feature_Hiring_OctNov_Banking Exchange 2016  >

Today’s bank leader is under greater pressure than at any time since the financial crisis.  While the crisis itself was a hot mess, the banking climate remaining in the aftermath of the Great Recession has likely altered the course of the industry for decades to come.  The two most vital ingredients today for a bank’s long-term autonomy are capital and talent.  Without those two key elements, a bank’s future survival becomes much more of an uphill climb.

Much has and will continue to be written about the tangible banking skills and technical proficiencies which have become necessities for leaders in the industry today.  There’s a shopping list of experience with subjects such as regulatory relations, balance sheet management, capital strategy, commercial credit, investor relations, risk management, technology and strategic planning that are now considered “table stakes” for bank leaders and CEO contenders.  Despite this daunting plethora of needed banking skills, the real challenges lie in development of the key leadership requirements for institutional success, and in the navigation of the managerial challenges which lie ahead.

There is no shortage of experts touting their views on the vital leadership competencies of the day.  So we will focus here on three intangible but particularly important areas of emphasis in the human capital arena which are critical for the future bank leader’s success:  cultural agility, workforce flexibility and talent-centricity.

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The article appeared in the Oct./Nov. 2016 issue of Banking Exchange magazine, copyright 2016 by Simmons-Boardman Publishing.

 Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and talent advisory firm based in Philadelphia.  Kaplan Partners is the country’s only retained executive search firm member of the ABA & ICBA.  You can reach him at alan@KaplanPartners.com or 610-642-5644.

 

 

 

Inside the Chief Financial Officer Role

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Alan Kaplan, Kaplan Partners, USA

Founder and CEO

How would you describe the outlook for the CFO function in the US?

The CFO function has always been a critical role in organizations, but in the post-crisis era the finance function has taken on additional significance for a variety of reasons. During the financial crisis, a few different factors become important to a company’s financial success: 1) financial strength, 2) cost control and 3) finding growth opportunities. Overlaying all of that is a more proactive regulatory environment; this has been a huge challenge on financial institutions and those managing these companies. Any publicly-traded company is under greater scrutiny from the SEC and the investor community. All of these factors have elevated the visibility of the CFO role as being front and center in a much wider range of activities. If you’re a CFO at a growth company or a company that is a large cap company, your ability to interact with the investor community has become more important than ever.

As a result, the demands on CFOs are greater. There is high demand for well-credentialed finance and accounting professionals who can function more strategically, rather than tactically. The demand is greater than the supply for these kind of finance professionals.

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A Tale of Two CEO Succession Plans

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Written by, Jack Milligan, Editor in Chief for Bank Director

In January 2014, the board of directors at Union Bankshares Corp. decided that it was time to begin considering a successor to President and Chief Executive Officer G. William “Billy” Beale, who at 65 was starting to think about his own retirement. This was a pivotal time for the now $8.1 billion asset bank, which is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. The 2013 acquisition of Charlottesville, Virginia-based StellarOne Corp. had nearly doubled the company in size, and eight of the StellarOne directors joined the board of the merged company. The newly expanded board was firmly committed to a growth plan that would take it past $10 billion in assets, where several important regulatory requirements would kick in, so the new CEO would have to be capable of managing a larger bank in a more rigorous regulatory environment.

Managing an orderly and ultimately successful CEO succession process is one of the board’s biggest responsibilities, and can be a stressful situation under the best of circumstances. And, in this instance, the eight directors from StellarOne and 11 directors from the old Union would have to work together on a potentially sensitive issue, despite the fact that they were still getting to know each other. Beale says the board engaged a consultant to help it develop a consensus on the kind of individual it was looking for, and the directors ultimately agreed on a set of expectations for the new CEO’s work experience and competencies.

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What to Look for in Your Next CEO Part II

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Selecting your bank’s next chief executive officer remains the board’s single most important responsibility. The risk of selecting an underprepared or inadequate leader is high, and can impact the bank’s strategic direction, reputation and ultimately, its viability. As highlighted last month, there are many critical banking industry skills needed in a leader today. In addition, there are intangible competencies and leadership qualities which are equally vital for the success of the CEO and the institution. Here, we emphasize ten leadership competencies and attributes which have proven vital for bank CEOs.

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What to Look for in Your Next CEO: Part I

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Selecting a chief executive to lead your institution is a bank board’s single most important responsibility. Everything flows from this decision, including the bank’s strategy, reputation, the ability to attract critical talent, investor and employee confidence and the credibility of the board itself. Selecting an underprepared or inadequate leader—no matter how well liked or how long employed—can quickly send a bank in the wrong direction.

The list of optimal skills required in a bank CEO today could easily include dozens of items. Here we will highlight ten technical skills that we see as “must haves.” Next month, we will highlight ten leadership competencies and attributes which will complement the qualifications below.

<To Read the Complete Article in its published format, click here: What to Look for in Your Next CEO – Part I>