Meridian Bank: Here, the sky’s the limit

Meridian Bank employees
The entire Meridian Bank team celebrates the bank’s 12-year anniversary in 2016 with a group photo.

Name: Meridian Bank
Assets: $1.6 billion
Location: Malvern, Pa.

Rosen Nenchev is a perfect example of a Meridian Bank employee who has been able to move up the ranks due in part to a supportive talent development culture.

Back in 2010, the $1.6 billion-asset community bank in Malvern, Pa., hired Nenchev as a customer service representative and teller. He held that role for a few years before applying for a commercial real estate credit analyst position that was open to current employees.

“Meridian Bank likes to fill positions internally first before going outside for candidates, which is a huge sign about the company’s culture,” Nenchev says.

Meridian Bank, Malvern, Pennsylvania
Employees of Meridian Bank, which went public in 2017, rang the closing bell of the NASDAQ in November 2017.

He was offered that position and then steadily worked his way up the community bank, holding positions like CRE loan officer, senior loan officer and assistant vice president. Now, Nenchev serves as the bank’s vice president of commercial real estate.

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“I give credit to the bank for recognizing my work ethic and the abilities I have shown,” he says. “It’s been all upward since the day I started 10 years ago. I’m very appreciative and grateful for the opportunities that Meridian Bank has given me, and for giving me the chance to be as successful as I am.”

“We look to a certain type of individual who has an entrepreneurial spirit, not someone who just wants to do their day-to-day job, but someone who has vision.”
—Tracy Panati, Meridian Bank

Promoting talent from within

In addition to offering a competitive compensation and benefits package that includes an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), one of the “biggest benefits” that Meridian Bank offers to employees is the ability to move within the bank, says Tracy Panati, senior vice president of human resources.

“We look to a certain type of individual who has an entrepreneurial spirit, not someone who just wants to do their day-to-day job, but someone who has vision,” she says. “We give them opportunities to be successful, because if they’re going to be successful, then that’s going to make Meridian Bank successful.”

The community bank’s penchant for promoting from within started when it opened in 2004. It’s been a philosophy that proved especially beneficial as the bank grew, says chairman and CEO Chris Annas. Employees also have the opportunity to move laterally to different departments, which was important as the bank launched additional business units, such as mortgage banking and wealth management.

Meridian Bank employees
Community bank employees ran the Spartan Race, an obstacle course race held in Citizens Bank Park, in 2019.

“We do continue to hire people, but there’s also a tremendous amount of talent brought up from within,” Annas says. “It shows everybody that they’ve got a career here—not just a job.”

When attracting new talent, Meridian Bank often offers permanent positions to alumni of its intern program, he says. This year, the community bank conducted its program remotely when other banks suspended their intern programs altogether

“Even when we don’t hire every intern,” Annas says, “each year we send a whole bunch of young people out into the business world who now have a great idea about the banking business and can be ambassadors for the industry.”

Top Tip: Meridian Bank

To help employees enhance their careers at Meridian Bank in Malvern, Pa., management provides both formal training and informal support, says Chris Annas, the community bank’s chairman and CEO.

For example, loan officers participate in formal credit training programs offered by a number of associations, including the Risk Management Association and ICBA. Informally, employees who demonstrate potential within certain functions can be placed under the tutelage of a manager. “One graduate of the credit training program who had been in business for a year showed a great aptitude for the bank’s own investment areas,” Annas says. “He then trained under that executive vice president on how to handle our bond portfolio for liquidity, and now he’s doing really well there.”

Another employee who started in the branches showed skill in helping coworkers with technology and now runs Meridian Bank’s IT help desk.

“We want to give people the idea that they don’t need to look to other places if they want to make a change in their career,” Annas says. “If they are willing, and with the help of senior leadership, they can be here for a long while.”

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a writer in California.