Eno to Keene.  Connor to Waldron.  Palmer to Daust.  Mann to Schaible.  Lueth to Bitzer.  Ward to Oldford.  Eichler to Snider.  These are just a few of the management transitions in process across the Michigan banking sector. Some involve the assumption of full CEO responsibilities, while others set the stage by designating the President’s title (and presumably heir-apparent status).  These examples bode well for the strength and resiliency of the state’s banking universe, and confirmation that one of the best ways to either ensure continued success and/or preserve a rich cultural heritage is to identify and cultivate the talent that one day will assume that mantle of leadership.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed comparable talent ascension that continues to build upon a successful historical track record that speaks volumes for Michigan’s banks.  Price to Kaminski.  Tull to Goik.  Klecha to Cunningham.  MacPhee to Hines.  Tobias to George.  Magee to Kessel.  Bosserd to Potes.  Bilotti to Gill to Bracken.  That last one sounds like a talented double-play combination for the company softball team.  I know I have missed quite a few others, but suffice it to say, many of our state’s financial institutions continue to display solid principles of corporate governance and an ardent focus on facilitating management changes into secure, solid hands.

This is not intended to be a treatise on the optimal HR process revolving around management succession, but rather, as summer draws to a close, a subtle reminder that careers also reach the end of their life cycle, and planning for those changes remains a critical component of any institutions’ strategic direction.  And the focus, logically, should not solely center on the corner office; ideally, attracting and cultivating talent across all critical functions of the organization should be an ongoing objective of the bank.  And, recognizing that sometimes “stuff” happens, this effort can serve as a solid contingency plan if and when unforeseen events alter expected timelines within the ranks.

The economy continues to remain on solid underlying footing.  Asset quality metrics continue to border on pristine for the industry.  Pricing pressure on both sides of the balance sheet (and the threat of the implications of an inverted yield curve), have not yet reared their ugly head in full force.  Unemployment levels continue at historical lows, while the potential impact of new trade tariffs remain largely anecdotal at this point.  There are many balls in the air that management teams are currently juggling as they take their organizations forward.  I am not advocating that they in any way divert their attention from these matters.  But rather, that they simply remain cognizant of the critical nature of both executive leadership and cultivating the requisite skill sets and core competencies necessary to ensure the bank continues to perform at all levels.  I know, easier said than done.  But nonetheless, requiring a thoughtful assessment of one’s staff while identifying how and when any “gaps” can effectively be bridged.

Common mantras in our industry include “bet on people, not on strategies.”  One of my favorites from my early years on Wall Street, was “Hire character. Train skill.”  Yes, for those wondering, there are bankers on Wall Street that still hold character near-and-dear.  Currently, there are quite a few men and women across Michigan that sit in the CEO chair and are still a decade or more from a traditional conclusion to their banking careers.  To them I say, succinctly, always be looking toward the future and continue to build an operation that is compelling and attractive to the next generation of leadership.  And, ideally, enjoy your time in these demanding management positions.  As legendary major league baseball announcer, Vin Scully, once said to an assembled audience of talented young players, “in the blink of an eye you’re going from the All-Star game to the Old-Timers game.”

ProBank Austin provides a multitude of experience, expertise, and market knowledge to our clients, spanning broad geographic swaths of the banking industry. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any of my colleagues if we can ever be of assistance, as you work hard to take your organizations forward and assess the competitive landscape.

In closing, attached please find our monthly summary of Michigan’s financial institutions.  Best wishes for a prosperous and successful 2018!

August 2018 Michigan Bank Summary

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