A: As with anyone working at a community bank, or even a small business, my role as Director of Marketing requires me to wear many hats. While marketing roles at larger financial institutions are segmented between functions like advertising, media buying, public relations, sports marketing, community relations, etc., my team and I are responsible for all these functions and more. We research, develop and execute traditional, enterprise-wide sales and marketing strategies for the bank while also serving as an internal ad agency for smaller, ad hoc needs and participate on several internal committees to support the bank's overall operations.
Q: What is the most challenging or rewarding part of your job? What are you most proud of?
A: The most rewarding part of my job is also the most challenging. I am blessed to work for a company that values corporate citizenship, and we are truly engaged in the communities we serve. On a daily basis we support a wide variety of nonprofit organizations with both volunteer hours and financial contributions. I firmly believe that there are very few companies that encourage this, and within them, very few roles that allow a person to steward so much opportunity for good. However, there is unlimited need, and we have limited resources. We constantly have to balance the needs of our shareholders, clients, communities and teammates.
Q: NewBridge is opening offices in the higher growth markets of Raleigh, N.C. and Charlotte, N.C., which are relatively new locations for the bank. How do you establish a brand presence and distinguish yourself in those markets, especially those which are also relatively crowded?
A: When moving into a new market, it's critical that you have clearly defined expectations. We don't have the budget or infrastructure to become a mass-market financial services provider in either of these markets. Instead, we will focus on what we know we can deliver for those clients that will benefit most from our operating model: banking services for local businesses with complex financial needs. Through targeted media placements in the respective business journals and leveraging strong relationships with existing clients and our referral partners, we will effectively communicate our message while simultaneously delivering on our brand promise.
Q: What is a "community bank" to you, and how do you show that in NewBridge Bank's marketing?
A: In my opinion, to be a community bank you have to possess the business acumen and creativity to deliver shareholder returns while also being a champion for the communities, local businesses and personal clients you serve. You have to be in, of and about the community while operating in the black, which creates a unique marketing challenge because most companies that are "in, of and about the community" are nonprofits. We overcome this challenge by focusing on our banking professionals in our marketing efforts. Every bank in the country has checking accounts and loan products fueling the company's growth, but no other bank in the country has the banking professionals we do. My teammates are the ones with their feet on the street. They're the ones helping their clients, volunteering, serving on boards, requesting gifts for local charities, etc. They're what differentiate us from our competitors and add the human component to our business.
Q: What are the main challenges that the community banking industry faces today?
A: Increasing regulatory and technology expenses. The costs of understanding and remaining compliant with new regulations are overwhelming, and we will reach a point in our industry that the cost of doing business is simply too high for smaller community banks. The same can be said for evolving technologies. While services like mobile deposit capture and tablet banking will eventually drive down overhead, the fees associated with installation, licensing, processing and maintenance require large, out-of-pocket expenses long before the benefits are realized.
Q: What do you think the community banking industry will be like in the next ten years?
A: Community banking will be much more technologically advanced, and there will be fewer, but larger, community banks in the market. The increased costs of regulation will force mergers and acquisitions, and technology costs will require certain economies of scale that will make one-, two- and three-branch franchises a thing of the past. The technological enhancements will make community banks more efficient, which, if managed correctly, could lead to more time spent consulting with clients (versus transacting), greater involvement in the community and increased shareholder returns.
Q: What should be the focus of community banking?
A: Remaining "in, of and about the community" while giving ourselves permission to evolve in a global financial services industry. These concepts - local commitment, global delivery - are not mutually exclusive. We can do it.
Q: Banks and bankers do not have the best image right now (in fact, I think banker jokes have actually surpassed lawyer jokes). What can be done to improve that image? What can be done to differentiate community bankers?
A: Transparency is powerful, and I think the industry needs to be more honest with ourselves and our clients. The companies and bankers that hold themselves accountable for their behavior by establishing core values; communicating them to their shareholders, clients and communities; and applying them to their business model will help change the face of the industry. For instance, NewBridge Bank has four guiding principles that are the foundation of everything we do: always do your best; do what is right; treat others as you want to be treated; and financial success begins with integrity. These are on the back of our business cards and provide clear, consistent direction for the bank through times of challenge and success.
NewBridge Bank is a full-service, state-chartered community bank headquartered in Greensboro, N.C. The bank has assets of approximately $1.7 billion with 37 locations throughout N.C.