The Mentor

David Ferguson Artisans’ Bank in Wilmington, Del.
David Ferguson
Artisans’ Bank in Wilmington, Del.

David Ferguson freely shares his knowledge to achieve team goals

By William Atkinson

In Delaware’s local business community, David Ferguson is known as someone who “knows his stuff,” particularly when it comes to commercial lending. As vice president of commercial lending for Artisans’ Bank, what sets him apart as a community banker, however, is his passion for sharing his knowledge with colleagues.

Quite simply, Ferguson enjoys mentoring others and does it well.

“His positive attitude is infectious, yet he utilizes a humble approach when mentoring others,” explains Charles F. Brown, the bank’s chief lending officer.

Ferguson’s peers and associates throughout Artisans’ Bank welcome his mentoring approach. And those skills have been particularly crucial in helping the $472 million-asset community bank’s lending team to fulfill its growth plans under a new cross-selling strategy.

More recently, the bank’s senior management team challenged the retail branch managers to develop staff-utilization strategies, including small-business development initiatives. As Ferguson notes, “Historically, branch managers weren’t necessarily required to solicit small-business banking opportunities.”

To temper the branch managers’ innate anxieties, the bank has partnered commercial lenders with its branch managers. “The retail branch managers have welcomed our guidance on best practices for establishing connections within the small-business community,” Ferguson says.

In Ferguson’s resort-oriented territory, commercial lending opportunities primarily include established restaurants and retail shops, mechanical trades, hotels and health care businesses, as well as funding commercial and residential real estate developments. But while maintaining his commercial portfolio, Ferguson works with a network of branch managers to develop new business. “So far, each branch manager has identified 10 to 12 small businesses that they are going to target over the next few months,” he says.

Such mentoring comes naturally for Ferguson. In fact, he grew up around it. His father was an educator for 40 years, his mother was a piano teacher for 35 years. His father was proud that so many teachers he mentored eventually became school administrators as well, he says. “He took great pride in that.”

Ferguson applies what he calls “kaleidoscope mentoring,” which involves gathering information he learned informally over the years that he shares with others. “Mentoring involves commitment, but it is worth it,” he explains. “Overall, mentoring ends up benefiting everyone. Not only do I get to share with others what I have learned, along the way I always learn something new myself, which makes me a better banker.”

Recently, Ferguson has been mentoring a regional division manager who is responsible for four Artisans’ Bank branches. Although that colleague has more than 20 years of retail banking experience, she does not have experience in commercial lending. With Ferguson’s encouragement, however, she recently reached out to a long-term commercial deposit customer to offer lending assistance. She ultimately became more engaged in the customer’s business, made a viable recommendation and secured appropriate financing to strengthen the client’s growth initiatives.

“It is a great foundation for future growth, not only for that customer in particular but also as an example for other branch managers in terms of what they can accomplish, too,” Ferguson says. “With a dedicated and engaged staff, Artisans’ Bank is well positioned to service the small-business banking needs within the communities in which we live.”

William Atkinson is freelance writer in Illinois.