Executives with Quaint Oak Bank in Southampton, Pa. (from left): Robert T. Strong, president and CEO; William R. Gonzalez, senior vice president; and Curt T. Schulmeister, chief lending officer. Photo by Michael Branscom.
Five of the most 100 productive community bank lenders share their secrets to success
By Vanessa Drucker
Today’s Main Street community banks certainly provide an increasingly diverse range of financial products and services. However, along with safeguarding savings and processing payments, no function remains more critically fundamental to a community bank’s overall purpose and success than lending.
No community bank can be successful—for its customers, communities and shareholders—without safely turning people’s deposits into valuable and productive credit for others. Invariably, the most successful community banks are those that consistently book the most solid loans. And that means winning the most business from borrowers in a marketplace rife with competitors.
For these reasons, ICBA Independent Banker® set out to identify community banks that have had the most recent success at generating the most solid loans. We developed the following listings of top loan producers among ICBA member community banks in these eight categories:
- Top 100 overall industry loan producers
- Top 50 commercial lenders
- Top 50 commercial real estate lenders
- Top 50 consumer lenders
- Top 50 mortgage lenders
- Top 50 credit card lenders
- Top 50 agricultural lenders
- Top 50 auto lenders
The top 100 overall industry loan producers are those community banks with the highest percentage of overall loans by dollar value to their total assets. The top 50 specialty lenders are those community banks with the highest percentage of loans by dollar value in the corresponding loan category to their overall loan portfolio.
The community banks recognized in the listings were ICBA members in 2013 and earned a Kroll Bond Rating Agency rating of their financial condition of C or higher.
Nothing is more fundamental to a community bank’s success than productive lending. ICBA Independent Banker congratulates these ICBA member institutions for succeeding in the most fundamental measure of all—safely providing credit to their customers and communities.
As the U.S. economy gathers some steam, a number of community banks are generating impressive loan volumes. Some common themes among this year’s ICBA top community bank loan producers run through their stories.
As always, operating in a healthy and diversified local economy where more consumers and businesses need credit is an overwhelming advantage. Customer loyalty is critical, founded on word-of-mouth reputation. For all relationship-based community lenders, a strong internal service culture, goal-directed employees and well-defined strategic initiatives generally appear to be more important than advertising and promotion.
Throughout the country, lending demand for community banks has varied depending on the state of recovery of their local economies since the Great Recession. Many community banks have faced and still face difficult lending challenges from a dire combination of soft loan demand and fierce competition.
One challenge, as result of the soft economy, has been how the largest banks aggressively target smaller loan sizes, often using extremely low pricing in an attempt to encroach on a longstanding niche of expertise for community banks.
However, speedy and responsive underwriting stood out once again as key factors for the most successful lenders. And speedy and smart decisions frequently stem from skilled and experienced lending teams operating within well-oiled loan workflows. Technology, meanwhile, plays a lesser role, provided it meets industry standards.
Here we explore a cross section of five top-producing community bank lenders operating in different markets to discuss the factors behind their most recent lending success.
Top Loan Producers:
Vanessa Drucker is a financial writer in New York.