Community Bank System Adds Director

November 19, 2020   Syracuse, N.Y.  —  Community Bank System, Inc. (NYSE: CBU) (the “Company”) announced today the election of Susan E. Skerritt to its Board of Directors as a new independent director. Ms. Skerritt has extensive experience in banking and financial services, having served in leadership positions at premier banking institutions, including Deutsche Bank, Bank of New York Mellon, and RBC U.S. Group Holdings LLC. Ms. Skerritt is currently a Senior Advisor with Promontory Financial Group, an IBM company that provides consulting services to financial institutions on regulatory, governance, and risk management matters.

Ms. Skerritt’s election expands the Company’s Board to 13 Directors, 12 of whom are independent. Ms. Skerritt was also appointed to the Board of Directors of Community Bank, N.A., the Company’s wholly-owned banking subsidiary. The Board has determined that Ms. Skerritt is a qualified financial expert and she will serve on the Board’s Audit and Compliance Committee and the Risk Committee.

“We are pleased to welcome Susan Skerritt as a new independent director to the Board of Directors of Community Bank System, Inc. and Community Bank, N.A.,” said Sally A. Steele, Chair of the Board of Directors. “Her decades of experience in leadership roles at high caliber banking institutions will be a tremendous asset to the Board and we look forward to her contributions in the areas of operational, financial and regulatory matters. Her appointment reflects the Board’s continued focus on enhancing the Board’s depth of experience and diversity to ensure an appropriate level of expertise and perspective to provide effective oversight of the Company and its subsidiaries.”

Mark E. Tryniski, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated “Adding Susan to our Board of Directors is an exceptional win for our organization. She brings a wealth of banking and financial industry knowledge and leadership skills and her perspective will assist us in continuing to deliver exceptional returns to our shareholders.”

Over the course of the last 35 years, she has served in various executive leadership positions, including serving as Chairwoman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, Deutsche Bank’s U.S. commercial banking entity from 2016 to 2018. Previously at Deutsche Bank, she led the transaction banking businesses in North and South America, and also led the global correspondent banking business. Prior to Deutsche Bank, Ms. Skerritt spent seven years at Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A. where she served as an Executive Vice President in a variety of increasingly important roles in cash management, trade finance and securities servicing businesses, including co-leading the acquisition and integration of the JPMorgan Corporate Trust business. She also served as an executive member of the Board of Directors of Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A. Earlier in her career she held various leadership roles at Morgan Stanley, Treasury Strategies, Inc., Ernst & Young and Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company.

Ms. Skerritt’s corporate board experience includes service as an independent director on the Board of Directors of the RBC U.S. Group Holdings LLC, the intermediate holding company for Royal Bank of Canada’s U.S. operations, where she served as the Chair of its Human Resources and Corporate Governance Committee, as well as a member of its Audit and Risk Committees. She currently is a director on the Board of Directors of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc., a New York stock exchange listed public company that owns and operates upscale outlet shopping centers, serving on the Audit Committee and Compensation & Human Capital Management Committee, and the Falcon Group, a leading inventory management solutions business headquartered in London and Dubai.

In recognition of her leadership and expertise, Ms. Skerritt was recognized on the American Banker’s list of Most Powerful Women in Banking ranking for multiple years, and was included in WomenInc.’s Most Influential Corporate Board of Directors in 2019.

Ms. Skerritt graduated from Hamilton College with a B.A. in Economics and has served on its Board of Trustees since 1994. She received her M.B.A. in Finance and International Business from New York University’s Stern School of Business and continued her education completing the Leading a Global Enterprise – 2013 Program at the Harvard Business School. She is currently a member of the Women’s Forum of New York, The Committee of 200, and has been a Director of The Brooklyn Hospital Center since 2013 and now serves as the Board’s Vice Chairman.

About Community Bank System, Inc.

Community Bank System, Inc. operates more than 230 customer facilities across Upstate New York, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Western Massachusetts through its banking subsidiary, Community Bank, N.A. With assets of over $13.8 billion, the DeWitt, N.Y. headquartered company is among the country’s 125 largest banking institutions. In addition to a full range of retail, business, and municipal banking services, the Company offers comprehensive financial planning, insurance and wealth management services through its Community Bank Wealth Management Group and OneGroup NY, Inc. operating units. The Company’s Benefit Plans Administrative Services, Inc. subsidiary is a leading provider of employee benefits administration, trust services, collective investment fund administration and actuarial consulting services to customers on a national scale. Community Bank System, Inc. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Company’s stock trades under the symbol CBU. For more information about Community Bank visit www.cbna.com.

 

How to Crisis-Proof Your Bank’s Succession Plan

In an ideal world, the departure of a key leader at a community bank would be an anticipated and carefully orchestrated event. A retirement date would be set. The successor would have plenty of time to learn from their predecessor. It would be a smooth transition.

But we don’t live in an ideal world.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that resiliency must be integrated into every aspect of community banking—including succession planning.

Bank presidents, CEOs and other C-suite executives aren’t immune to the coronavirus or other unexpected events. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March, running the company while quarantining and recovering at home. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon was sidelined for a month in March after emergency heart surgery, so the bank’s two co-presidents filled in. And the CEO of Credit Suisse unexpectedly resigned in the aftermath of a spying scandal.

“This pandemic has put succession planning on the front burner as something that must be dealt with.”

“For any board of directors or management team that has been unwilling or unable to grapple with the concept of executive succession, this pandemic has put succession planning on the front burner as something that must be dealt with,” says Alan Kaplan, founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and board advisory firm in Wynnewood, Pa.

Crisis-proof succession planning

A good succession plan is designed to be as crisis-proof as possible. It addresses both long-term and emergency succession needs, identifying roles that need to be filled and the personnel on deck to fill them.

Like a strategic plan, a succession plan is a living document. It should be reviewed at least annually, though more frequent reviews can be triggered when there are departures from the bank, says Greyson Tuck, attorney and consultant at Gerrish Smith Tuck Consultants and Attorneys PC, a community bank legal and consulting firm in Memphis, Tenn.

“The best coaches are the ones who make half-time adjustments. They’ve been through half, have seen what’s working and what’s not, and make changes,” says Tuck of keeping succession plans up to date. “They have the conviction to actually make those changes.”

Among those changes are potential vulnerabilities revealed by the pandemic. For instance, it may have been necessary to assess whether employees in a given functional area can operate without a key leader or team member, says Julia A. Johnson, director of organizational performance at Wipfli LLP, a national accounting and consulting firm in Milwaukee. These are the kinds of insights that show where succession planning is needed.

The board should be reviewing succession for the CEO, the C-suite and all direct reports to the CEO at least annually and more often if there’s a looming retirement. The succession plan should also include any other critical role. For example, the chief technology officer may report to the chief financial officer, Kaplan says. If someone is in a vital role and there’s no in-house talent to elevate and replace them, that’s something the board needs to know.

It’s also important to look beyond the vacated position. A single change can result in other shifts that will require a community bank to recalibrate the plan to keep it relevant, Johnson says.

Kaplan likes to see a bank dig two or three levels into upper and middle management to identify employees with high potential, particularly going deeper as the bank grows. Smart community banks will take steps to help maximize their talent and get them ready for their future roles internally.

“Grow your people. Always let that be your first option,” Kaplan says. “The more you can do on your own internally, the more long-term the successors, the better off and smoother transitions will be.”

Don’t forget to plan for temporary absences like the one experienced with Dimon at JPMorgan. While CEOs in many industries have contracted COVID-19, few have died. Instead, many found themselves ill and unable to work at full capacity for an extended period of time. These interim and emergency plans need to be updated. “Ask yourself, ‘What would we do if we have half a CEO for three months?’” Kaplan says.

Johnson suggests identifying current team members who can assume higher roles of responsibility for extended period of time or implementing strategic partnerships to outsource functions.

How to start as CEO during a pandemic

Robert White had a strategic plan for his first 30 days at 1st Colonial Community Bank when he joined as president and CEO at the beginning of February. He was going to focus on getting to know his new institution and its customers to understand what makes the community bank in Collingswood, N.J. successful. After that, he’d work toward the board goals of growing the customer base and diversifying the business mix.

That all changed with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aggressively testing the disaster recovery plan and all the technology needed to work remotely became a top priority, along with fast-tracking technology platform upgrades from the community bank’s core provider. Customers needing loan deferrals and existing small business customers needing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds took precedence over reaching out to new businesses, and a third-party service was brought in to help the preferred Small Business Administration (SBA) lender prepare for the PPP. White had to remotely build relationships with the employees he was just getting to know.

The good news for 1st Colonial Community Bank was that its new president and CEO was prepared to handle a crisis. A former chief risk officer with 30 years of banking experience, White had the skills to identify and assess the challenges posed by the pandemic and implement strategies to limit the potential risks.

“We adapted pretty well,” he says. “The best answer is to stick to your plan. Be agile and don’t be too reactive. Things will calm down and return to some level of normalcy.”

Find the right successor for your bank

While the COVID-19 pandemic was unexpected, the reality of a crisis shouldn’t be.

The banking industry is good for a crisis every decade or so, making it essential that management has the ability to adapt during a crisis, Tuck says. That makes the current pandemic an opportunity to actively observe the community bank’s best performers and see how they handle challenges like problem loans or employee issues.

“People’s true character and abilities show in times of crisis,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity to look at somebody new or that is the chosen successor and note: How did they handle this? What did they do well? What didn’t they do well? It’s somewhat of a proving ground and a live audition.”

Keep an eye out for agile leaders who are able to adapt to an ever-changing business landscape, Johnson says. Other competencies include strategic thinking, outside-of-the-box thinking, influencing, relationship-building, collaboration, and written and verbal communications.

Many folks on the team stepped up [during the pandemic] and said, ‘We’re in this for the long term. whatever you need, we’re here to support you.’”

—Robert White, 1st Colonial Community Bank

Robert White was recruited to take over as president and CEO of $595 million-asset 1st Colonial Community Bank in Collingswood, N.J. He started in early February and didn’t have much time to get to know his team before the pandemic forced everyone to work remotely. Upon joining the community bank last winter, he began to assess the talent he was working with.

“I can’t say enough about the team we are very fortunate to have in place,” White says. “Many folks on the team stepped up and said, ‘We’re in this for the long term. Whatever you need, we’re here to support you.’”

1st Colonial Community Bank is now updating its succession plan. White and his team are using the insights from the early days of the pandemic to ensure the right people are in place for executive succession. “In many cases, it [the crisis] clarified what I initially thought,” he says. “A couple of folks were elevated as a result of their efforts and commitment.”

Training also plays an important role, as does company culture. Kaplan recommends fostering a culture of mentoring and talent development by telling staff that they need to be developing someone below them to take over their role—and that person must be as good, if not better—if they want to be promoted. Work with human resources to include succession planning objectives like mentoring in the matrix for performance reviews and compensation.

“It is quickly becoming a best practice to have a professional development plan for the majority of employees within a bank,” Johnson says. “At a minimum, they should be developed for those high-potential employees, right from the point of hire.”

Banks that don’t have succession plans in place often end up making mistakes and end up being sold, Kaplan says. He once saw a bank board promote a talented board chair as CEO. The man was a smart lawyer, so the rest of the board trusted he could do a good job. It turned out, however, that he didn’t have all the competencies the bank needed.

Other boards, faced with an unexpected leadership transition without a succession plan, have chased after a buzzy candidate only to discover they don’t fit the culture, he adds.

“Continuity of leadership promotes continuity of strategy, which is a good thing,” Kaplan says. “If you don’t have continuity of strategy, you might find yourself jumping from idea to idea and get in a downward spiral.”

Prepare for the next crisis

While there is no one correct approach to succession planning, it’s essential to a community bank’s long-term survival. It’s also part of the regulatory review process. Banks that treat it as a check-the-box exercise are missing out on the opportunity to plan for the future, develop talent and build those needs into how the bank operates and does business every day, Kaplan says.

I truly don’t believe anything is fully crisis-proof when it comes to people. We can only strive to mitigate the risk through effective development of the team.”

—Julia A. Johnson, Wipfli, LLP

As community banks move past the blocking and tackling that helped them navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19, they’ll need to reevaluate their succession plans, Tuck says. While the best succession plans he’s seen involve transitions lasting 24 to 36 months, with the successor gaining increasing authority and the predecessor retaining veto power, those kinds of transitions aren’t always possible.

That’s why it’s important to give high-potential employees on-the-job training and autonomy. You’ll need staff members to have the skills to navigate the next crisis. They might just be the bank’s best chance for strategy continuity. There are no guarantees—only preparation.

“I truly don’t believe anything is fully crisis-proof when it comes to people,” Johnson says. “We can only strive to mitigate the risk through effective development of the team.”

The path to choosing an emergency successor

When a crisis hits and takes a leader out of commission, someone has to take their place until a permanent replacement can be found. This shouldn’t be a game-time decision. The board’s succession plan should include an emergency interim successor who can serve six to 12 months in their place while evaluating longer-term leadership options.

Alan Kaplan, founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, an executive search and succession planning firm in Wynnewood, Pa., offers these four approaches for choosing a short-term successor.

1. Promote the planned successor early

If someone at the community bank has already been identified as the successor, put that person in the role. It gives the board a chance to evaluate their performance in that role before making a long-term commitment. “I have seen situations where the heir apparent being groomed was elevated earlier than expected and did a spectacular job,” Kaplan says.

2. Bring back a retired executive

Faced with a sudden departure, Kaplan recalls a $1 billion-asset community bank that asked its former CEO, who had retired two years earlier and left the board a year before, to return on an interim basis. The CEO made it clear he was not interested in a long-term gig. Kaplan says this solution worked only because the CEO hadn’t been out of the banking world for very long. If a succession plan involves bringing back a retired employee, make sure that employee is still capable of doing the job when you reevaluate the plan each year. You don’t want to call someone up to the majors only to find out they’ve long since left the game.

3. Promote another high-performing executive

If you have a chief financial officer or another executive that really shines, having them fill in as temporary president or CEO gives you a chance to audition them for the role. You can then decide to give them the job or choose to hire outside.

4. Hire a temporary executive

While they aren’t common in the community banking industry, it’s possible to hire a temporary CEO. These are typically turnaround experts who work with struggling institutions.


<To read the article in its published format, click here https://independentbanker.org/2020/11/how-to-crisis-proof-your-banks-succession-plan/>

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and board advisory firm headquartered in suburban Philadelphia.   You can reach Alan at 610-642-5644 or alan@KaplanPartners.com.

Kelly Pike is a writer in Virginia.  She interviewed Alan J. Kaplan for the Independent Banker Magazine.

 

Kaplan Partners Highlights Key Third Quarter Success Stories

Despite the dual impacts of the global pandemic and challenging economy, this past summer our firm was quite busy continuing to work diligently on behalf of our clients.  Some of our recent success stories:

  • President of Community Banking, Flagstar Bank
  • President & CEO, Community Bank/CB Financial Services
  • EVP & Imminent President & CEO, Bankers Cooperative Group/NJ Bankers
  • VP-Finance, Connecticut Water
  • Board Member, First Internet Bank
  • Chief Financial Officer, Howard Bank
  • Corporate Controller, Project Management Institute

These assignments took place in six different states across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.  Kaplan Partners’ prime focus continues to be on financial institutions nationwide, as well as corporate financial roles and high growth/investor owned middle market firms.  For more information contact Founder & CEO Alan Kaplan at alan@KaplanPartners.com.

Diversity AND Inclusion in PACB Leadership…it’s About Time!

Someone once said that “diversity is being invited to the dance; inclusion is being invited to dance”.  If this is true, than PACB is finally dancing!

After over 140 years serving community banks throughout the Commonwealth, PACB has its first woman Chair, Lori Cestra, EVP & COO of Enterprise Bank in Pittsburgh.  This milestone has been a long time coming.  Hats off to Lori for her willingness to commit to the role and to supporting community banks across the state.  And, to their credit, Lori’s peers on the PACB Board recognized her energy and talent, and welcomed her into the inner circle of PACB leadership.

However, the question remains:  how do we rectify this severely unbalanced situation, so that the next woman or person of color to serve as PACB Chair will simply be part of the normal course of events, rather than an outlier event?

On a basic level, while diversity means different things to different people, a desired outcome is often to broaden the range of thought, perspective and experience—while leveling the playing field and seeking to optimize business decision-making.  That being said, in order to achieve this broader perspective, organizations need to recognize the importance and value of a wider representation of diverse talent in both senior leadership positions and on their board of directors. After all, your bank’s customer base and growth markets are all getting less homogenous, as is your future employee base.  Customers in the important Gen Y and Gen Z demographics are now buying homes and starting to save for their young kids’ college education.  This important demographic typically cares a lot about diversity, ethical and responsible corporate citizenship, and equal opportunity.

Sadly, too many community banks fall short here, victims of their own unconscious bias and preconceived demographic perceptions.  We have to do better!  Not to mention that our regulatory agencies have begun moving “diversity” onto their front burner agendas.  For publicly traded companies, the risk of criticism for a lack of diversity is even higher.

There is no secret sauce that will solve this systemic challenge for the industry, especially since this is a long term issue. However, there are a few basic steps which can begin to help move the banking industry along on this journey, and create an organization where inclusion has real meaning:

  • Start by really listening to your colleagues who are black, brown or women, to better understand their experiences inside the organization, and where the bank can evolve to make it feel more welcoming to all future employees. The lack of real inclusion is where many firms fall short, despite good intentions.
  • Address the very real challenges of unconscious bias. To be sure, we all have our own internal biases, and they affect how we might approach people—whether a current or future employee, or a bank customer.  Education in this arena is an absolute must—across the organization.
  • Take a hard look at your leadership team and board of directors. If these groups are homogenous (either in gender or ethnicity), the message being sent is not helping.  Potential diverse employees will not see the role modeling at the top which would indicate that the bank is serious about equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Consider partnering with local high schools, community colleges and other educational institutions in your markets to better inform students about the opportunities in banking. Take a ground floor approach to developing a more diverse workforce.

As part of this, consider how your bank goes to market for new employees in general, especially for entry level jobs and new graduates.  Instead of the traditional boring job advertisements that banks are known for, we need to focus on what resonates with younger Gen Y and Gen Z.  Something like “if you want to work for a technology-driven business that cares deeply about its customers and gives back to its communities…come talk with us!”  These aspects of a potential employer—technology, customer-centricity and a focus on communities—are very meaningful to rising generations.

It is indeed laudable that Lori is PACB’s first woman to serve as Chair.  For added perspective, the state’s other bank trade association, PA Bankers, has had only three women serve as Chair in its 125 year history.  The PACB Hall of Fame has six women members out of a total of 117 (5%).  The PACB Board is better, with 4 women out of 28 bankers serving (14%).  Nevertheless, in a state that at one point had many hundreds of community banks, 4 female Chairs between the two organizations in over a century leaves a lot of room for improvement.   We have an obligation to do better!

Lori’s elevation to PACB Chair is not the end of the journey but the beginning.  If community banks in PA and elsewhere are going to continue to thrive and survive, then grappling with the challenges of equality, diversity and inclusion must be more than a project.  It must become an integral part of how banks do business every day.

<To read the article in its published format, click here  https://hometown-banker.thenewslinkgroup.org/diversity-and-inclusion-in-pacb-leadership-its-about-time/>

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search

and board advisory firm headquartered in suburban Philadelphia.   You can reach

Alan at 610-642-5644 or alan@KaplanPartners.com.

Kaplan Partners Selected by Maryland Bankers Association

MBA PRESS RELEASE

CONTACT: Mindy Lehman
Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Communications
443-837-1613 | mlehman@mdbankers.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 24, 2020
Kaplan Partners Selected to Manage the Search for the
Maryland Bankers Association’s President and CEO

The Maryland Bankers Association (MBA) Board of Directors continues to move expeditiously toward
successful completion of the search for the Association’s next President and CEO. The search was
initiated due to the pending departure at the end of August of long-serving CEO Kathleen Murphy, who
will be joining the Massachusetts Bankers Association as its President and CEO.

On July 22, 2020, MBA Chairman Robert E. “B.J.” Goetz, President and CEO of Middletown Valley
Bank, informed the membership of the creation of a Succession Committee to oversee the search process.
At that time, Goetz also pledged to keep the members informed of the Committee’s progress.

Today, the Association is pleased to announce that Maryland Bankers Association member Kaplan
Partners (“Kaplan”) has been selected to assist the Succession Committee on this important initiative.
Philadelphia-based Kaplan Partners has been in business for over 26 years, with an excellent reputation as
an industry-leading boutique executive search and board advisory firm. According to Goetz, “Kaplan’s
deep expertise in the banking industry, strong knowledge of the banking association landscape and track
record of success in placing proven executives in Maryland banks and other state bankers associations
combined to make Kaplan the firm of choice to assist with the Association’s CEO succession process.”

Kaplan Principal Nick DeMedio will be joining the Firm’s Founder and CEO Alan Kaplan as the lead
consultants on the search, working with the Succession Committee and as a point of contact for the deep
candidate pool that has emerged for this key leadership position. Inquiries may be directed to Nick
DeMedio at nick@kaplanpartners.com.

*********

Founded in 1896, MBA represents community, regional and large nationwide banks and thrifts of all
sizes and charter types which hold $140 billion in deposits in more than 1,400 branches across the
State. Maryland banks employ more than 26,000 professionals who dedicate on average 100 hours of
community service annually. MBA serves member banks as a legislative and regulatory advocate at all
levels of government, as the public relations voice for the industry, as a provider of professional
education to members and a promoter of financial education to the community.

Community Bank Names CEO

August 14, 2020  —  Carmichaels, PA    CB Financial Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: CBFV) and its’ subsidiary Community Bank, announced today that John H. Montgomery has been appointed to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company and the Bank, effective August 31, 2020.  He succeeds Barron P. McCune, Jr. who has been serving in an interim capacity since early January.

Mr. Montgomery will also serve as a Director of the Company and the Bank. Concurrent with the effectiveness of Mr. Montgomery’s appointment as President and CEO, Mr. McCune will become an Executive Consultant to the Company and the Bank through March 31, 2021, to assist in the leadership transition. Mr. McCune will also become a Director Emeritus of the Bank and the Company.

Mr. Montgomery is an accomplished bank executive with over 30 years of experience, demonstrating excellence in a variety of challenging roles. He most recently served as EVP & Chief Credit Officer, as well as a Director, of Missouri-based First Bank, a $7 billion asset multi-state banking institution.  Mr. Montgomery previously was a senior executive with Susquehanna Bancshares.  He holds an undergraduate degree from Juniata College and an MBA from Drexel University.

Who Sits on Your Board of Directors?

As companies large and small grapple with the business impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, CEOs and their executive teams need all the help they can get. The Board of Directors or Board of Advisors should be one of the primary resources for organizational leaders.  But what if that board is not up to the task of providing strategic insight and offering the kind of valuable perspective needed to help the company navigate the new world order?

From our vantage point as strategic human capital advisors, we have had the opportunity to see hundreds of boards up close and personal.  Some are incredibly impressive and impactful.  Some other boards, unfortunately, are full of well-meaning people with homogenous thinking, dated skills, or business acumen that does not lend itself to great governance and strategic input.  Among the most critical roles of a board of directors is to: 1) decide who leads the organization and; 2) provide valuable oversight of business strategy and risk.  Directors whose own experiences do not align well with these vital responsibilities should perhaps be reevaluated for continued board service.

Now more than ever, organizations need board members who are not just great business leaders, but who also represent a diverse range of perspectives along with strong skills in key areas.  For example, as companies revamp their business models, directors with strong financial competency may be especially helpful.  Many firms have had to ramp up their work-from-home or online technological capabilities, and thus a strong digital director would be very useful at this time.  Executive compensation plans are under scrutiny as business forecasts evolve, and board members with relevant skills in this area might be particularly valuable.

Both the skills and life experiences of your board members really do make a difference.  It has been well documented that the more diverse the perspectives sitting around the board table, the more likely better decisions will be made.  A group of board members who think alike, look alike and see issues from a similar viewpoint are missing the opportunity to cast decision-making in the broadest possible light.  Considering this, how can a more diverse board not be beneficial?

According to Carol Johnson, a Director who sits on four corporate boards, “The CEO role has never been more challenging.  Board support and input, in partnership with the CEO and leadership team, should help the organization to think through strategic solutions, fresh opportunities, and how life will be different.  This is more important today than ever.”

The saga of the Board of Directors of Theranos, a now defunct blood testing startup founded by one-time Stanford student Elizabeth Holmes, is quite telling.  Holmes recruited luminaries including Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, William Perry, Sam Nunn, Bill Frist, Dick Kovacevich and Jim Mattis to her board with the promise of revolutionizing blood tests.  While this was a board of intelligent and accomplished leaders, they likely viewed the world similarly, and simply did not govern appropriately, ask the right questions, or properly assess the company’s risks.  And equally important, most of these big name directors did not have relevant experience with the company’s core business of blood testing.  As a result, the company is out of business and Holmes is awaiting trial.  Names alone do not make a great board.  It is the collective skills, nuanced insight, diverse backgrounds and perspectives, the courage to tackle tough issues, and the ability to present opposing views in a constructive manner that are the hallmarks of the most effective boards.

Needless to say, directors are expected to do their homework and prepare for board meetings beforehand.  Shockingly,  we see too many directors who do not review materials ahead of time, often belaboring discussions and sidetracking conversations, which wastes valuable board time.  The average public director now spends roughly 20 hours per month on their board duties, and advance preparation to optimize board time together remains critical to being a high performing board.

Companies with lesser skilled directors, or a board lacking in diversity, need to take a hard look at who is truly contributing and adding real value.  Perhaps it is time to have a difficult conversation or two regarding the need for current skills, along with the expectations of board performance.  As Bill McNabb, the former CEO of Vanguard has stated “Having the right directors on the board is the single most important factor in good governance”.  Well said.

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and board advisory firm headquartered in suburban Philadelphia. He can be reached at 610-642-5644 or alan@KaplanPartners.com.

 

 

 

 

Flagstar Bank Names Reginald Davis President of Community Banking

Troy, Michigan, June 9, 2020   —   Flagstar Bank has named Reginald Davis President of Banking. Davis is a 35-year veteran of the banking industry who most recently served as head of business banking, including small business, at SunTrust, now Truist.

Davis brings to Flagstar an extensive background in banking. Besides additional experience at SunTrust as a retail market executive, he also served as president of RBC Bank USA, the domestic banking division of the Royal Bank of Canada, and as a senior executive and member of the operating committee for Wachovia (now Wells Fargo Bank), where he held a number of senior roles with P&L responsibility. He started his banking career at First Union Bank.

At Flagstar, he will be responsible for commercial and industrial, middle market, and warehouse lending. Additional areas of responsibility include consumer finance, equipment finance, homebuilder finance, government banking, treasury management, branch banking and strategic alliances.

“Reggie is a talented, versatile, seasoned banker with a proven track record of putting solutions within reach of customers and getting results,” said Alessandro DiNello, president and CEO of Flagstar. “Community banking is key to diversifying our earnings, and we’re fortunate to have Reggie fill this important position and help us strengthen our community banking and lending.”

Davis comes to Flagstar from the Atlanta area where he is a member of Business Executives for National Security. Previously, he served on the board of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Davis also is a member of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. In 2005, Black Enterprise Magazine named him one of the 75 most powerful African Americans in corporate America.

Flagstar Bancorp, Inc. (NYSE: FBC) is a $26.8 billion savings and loan holding company headquartered in Troy, Michigan.  Flagstar Bank, FSB, provides commercial, small business, and consumer banking services through 160 branches in Michigan, Indiana, California, Wisconsin and Ohio. It also provides home loans through a wholesale network of brokers and correspondents in all 50 states, as well as 87 retail locations in 28 states, representing the combined retail branches of Flagstar and its Opes Advisors mortgage division. Flagstar is a leading national originator and servicer of mortgage and other consumer loans, handling payments and record keeping for $225 billion of loans representing nearly 1.1 million borrowers. For more information, please visit flagstar.com.

 

Bankers Cooperative Group Appoints Cooney as New EVP and Imminent President and & CEO

Cranford, NJ, June 3, 2020   —   Bankers Cooperative Group, Inc. (BCG), an affiliated company of the New Jersey Bankers Association (NJBankers), announced the appointment of Matthew W. Cooney as its new executive vice president and imminent president & CEO. Cooney has a broad background with expertise in sales and business development, account management, customer service and operations. His professional experience includes positions at Flexible Benefits Plans, Inc., Allstate Benefits, Independence Blue Cross, AmeriHealth Administrators and Kistler Tiffany Benefits. He also served two terms as president of the Greater Philadelphia National Association of Underwriters. Cooney is a licensed life & health insurance producer in all fifty states.

In his initial role as executive vice president he will be primarily responsible for identifying and developing new marketing strategies to grow and maintain persistency of BCG’s book of business. He will also manage key client relationships and internal operations as he shadows retiring president & CEO Richard Siderko for the remainder of 2020. He will assume the president & CEO position as of January 1, 2021.

Siderko, exiting after thirty-eight years of service has been quoted as saying, “Matt has well thought out strategies for growing BCG which will play extremely well within NJBankers Membership and advance BCG for years to come”. BCG Chairman and NJBankers President & CEO John McWeeney, Jr. added “Matt’s industry connections, experience and passion will have great upside for us going forward”.

 

Howard Bank Names CFO

June 2, 2020, Baltimore, MD  —  The board of Baltimore-based Howard Bancorp Inc. appointed Robert Carpenter Jr. permanent CFO and principal accounting officer, effective May 27. Carpenter took over these roles on an interim basis in February. He was the CFO for Maryland Financial Bank from February 2018 to July 2019.

Carpenter has extensive financial officer experience in the banking industry, including with Damascus Community Bank and Bay Bank FSB.  His early industry experience was with several large regional banks in the Maryland market. Carpenter began his career with KPMG in Baltimore and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Howard Bancorp, Inc. is the parent company of Howard Bank, a Maryland-chartered trust company operating as a commercial bank. Headquartered in Baltimore City, Maryland, Howard Bank operates a general commercial banking business through its 15 branches located throughout the Greater Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Additional information about Howard Bancorp, Inc. and Howard Bank are available on its website at www.howardbank.com.