Zions First National Bank: Wealth of Talent

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Revenue up, expenses down. That's the formula Julie Castle helped perfect as chief operating officer of Zions First National Bank's wealth management affiliate, Contango Capital Advisors. In June she was rewarded with a promotion to CEO of the unit, following the retirement of George Feiger.

The past two years of double-digit revenue growth may be just a warm-up. Castle has big plans to grow assets under management from the current $1.8 billion.

"We could be 10 times the size we are today within five to seven years," Castle recently told On Wall Street.

Those plans include the continuing consolidation of Zions' wealth businesses, including the private bank led by Zions Executive Vice President Stephanie Horne, to provide a more holistic offering for high-net-worth clients seeking investment, insurance and trust services. The bank itself now has nearly 1,500 wealth management clients, in a division generating more than $6 million a year in revenue.

Collaboration also has been at the heart of the strong numbers posted by Lori Chillingworth, EVP of Zions' small-business banking division. In the first quarter alone, loan production by small-business bankers in the branches was 52 percent ahead of plan. She credits the teamwork that came from training front-liners in the branch to better cross-sell small-business owners. And that's been just one of the bright spots in the retail banking division led by Zions EVP LeeAnne Linderman, who has presided over big gains in consumer lending this year and is focusing now on better integrating the branches, ATMs, and online and mobile channels.

Meanwhile, Zions SVP Kimberlee Casaday is leveraging the branches for the benefit of the home financing business she oversees. Her contribution to Zions' revenue jumped 66 percent last year.

Zions' deep bench of female talent extends to the risk management side of the house, which in the past year has seen significant declines in net chargeoffs and non-accrual loans. SVP Janet Fisher, a regional credit director with oversight of a $1.7 billion construction and term loan portfolio, a $400 million single-family construction portfolio and commercial real estate loans across the bank, is credited with giving real estate lenders greater flexibility to address incoming loan requests, which has increased production. The processes she has implemented have been embraced across the bank.

All female EVPs and SVPs sit on the Women's Business Forum steering committee at Zions, planning networking events and serving as mentors. A formal company mentoring program, which began in 2009 to target emerging female talent, was opened to everyone in 2010, although the bank aims to have women and minorities account for 60 percent of the participants each year.

Headquarters:
Salt Lake City

2012 Financial Highlights:
Assets: $17.9 billion
ROE: 10.16%
ROA: 1.09%

Female representation among corporate officers: 40%

Female representation on operating committee: 24%

The Team: Bonnie Blood, Hope Butler, Kimberlee Casaday, Julie Castle, Chantel Chase, Lori Chillingworth, Jennifer Christopulos, Connie DeIanni, Janet Fisher, Kristine Goddard, Melisse Grey, Christine Hayward, Stephanie Horne, Rebecca Kearns, Danae Klimes, LeeAnne Linderman, Renee Miller, Cece Mitchell, Toni Nielsen, Nancy Olson, Heidi Prokop, Cristie Richards, Crystal Roedel, Ali Wilkinson

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She's also focused on what may be banks' greatest single challenge these days: growing revenue. She has addressed the issue head on by buying back a credit card portfolio, acquiring roughly three dozen branches in upstate New York and beefing up Key's commercial mortgage servicing portfolio. She's also spearheading an efficiency drive that puts the bank on pace to trim overhead by roughly $200 million a year through branch consolidation and other cost-cutting measures.

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(See Mooney's full profile here.)

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