15 Minutes With … Mary Lynn Lenz

Mary Lynn Lenz on community banking in Arizona

President and CEO of the $292 million-asset Foothills Bank in Yuma, Ariz.

IB: Where is Foothills Bank? What is your marketplace like?

Lenz: Our customer base is relatively young, with a median age of 34 years. Many are transplants from California and surrounding states who have come to the area because of the economic advantages. Thanks to the Colorado River and two U.S. military installations, the area is tied mainly to the agricultural sector and military. Commercial real estate and tourism are our other main industries.

Our customer base is relatively young with a median age of 34 years. Many are transplants from California and surrounding states who have come to the area because of the economic advantages. Thanks to the Colorado River and two U.S. military installations, the area is tied mainly to the agricultural sector and military. Commercial real estate and tourism are our other main industries.

IB: You’ve worked in both large institutions and community banks. What’s the biggest difference?

Lenz: At a community bank you have the ability to affect change. I love to create, implement, execute and be responsible for the results. In a large institution you lose this ability. The sheer size of those institutions just doesn’t allow you to be involved in all the components of banking like you can be at a smaller bank.

IB: A new year is right around the corner. What goals or objectives are planned for the bank in 2014?

Lenz: We’re actually right in the middle of our strategic planning process for 2014 and beyond. If I polled the board right now, I think the main objective you’d hear would be that we want to be the premier community bank in that state of Arizona. We want to increase our brand recognition and to position Foothills Bank as a place where people want to do their banking.

IB: Any predictions for community banking in general?

Lenz: The industry will continue to experience consolidation for a variety of reasons. Some will be a result of economic and regulatory pressures, and others will be the result of social issues, like fatigued boards and lack of succession planning. Overall, the community banking space is rebounding and should experience positive growth in the near future.

IB: Tell us something unique about Foothills Bank and Yuma?

Lenz: In the winter Yuma’s population and our customer base swells from 100,000 people to more than 200,000 overnight. Yuma is a favorite location for snowbird retirees looking to escape the winters up north. A considerable number of these part-time residents are actually from Canada. Many of them choose to bank with us because they require the added personal touch needed to facilitate transactions in their home states and with their banks in Canada.

IB: Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do for fun when you’re away from the bank?

Lenz: We have four children and four wonderful grandchildren, so most of my time is spent with my family. When I do have some downtime, we’re usually busy paddle boarding, biking along the boardwalk in California or finding a new adventure.