Alan G. McNally will succeed B. Kenneth West as chief executive of Harris Bankcorp, the Chicago-based subsidiary of Bank of Montreal Corp., in September.
A vice chairman of Bank of Montreal, Mr. McNally, 47, holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and an MBA from York University. The native of Quebec City also is chairman of MasterCard International Inc.
Chicago bureau chief Steve Klinkerman recently interviewed Mr. McNally about his new assignment.
Q.: What is your mandate? McNALLY: The objective is to build a bigger asset. Over a decade, we want to build a bank with annual earnings on the order of $300 million, versus $100 million today.
That entails tripling the distribution system in Chicago, and it implies investment on the order of $600 million or $700 million.
Priority No. 1 is greater Chicago, but we will be looking more broadly in the Midwest as we evolve.
Q.: Are major acquisitions in the offing? McNALLY: Nothing dramatic is in the cards. It is a matter of executing a set of marketing priorities and, a year at a time, expanding the distribution system through small acquisitions and de novos.
Q.: What is your analysis of Harris as it stands? McNALLY: I see a bank that has strong capital and liquidity -- and a parent that stands ready to invest further in it -- but having in-the-pack productivity, profitability, and asset quality.
Growth in comparison with peers has not been strong. And, in fact, it is this growth that is the missing variable.
Q.: What opportunities do you perceive? McNALLY: Retail banking and small business lending are two prime opportunities in this market -- which goes back to the need for a larger branch network. But we also want to expand the existing strong businesses in the portfolio -- corporate banking, foreign exchange, cash management, corporate and institutional trust, and personal banking, trust, and asset management.
Q.: Is there any one key to making progress on so many fronts? McNALLY: One thing I value enormously is marketing, using the full range of elements in the marketing mix to achieve differentiation and competitive advantage -- from product, price, and promotion to market segmentation, distribution, teamwork, and after-sales service.
Q.: You obviously are going to need quite a bit of support from the more than 5,000 employees of the bank. Could you talk a bit about your management style and how you hope to rally the troops? McNALLY: The most important characteristic of success and leadership is teamwork, and I believe in it absolutely.
Serving customers well obviously is a prerequisite to success, and the key to outdoing competition is having a team of skilled, trained, motivated, committed employees. You can't have customer satisfaction without employee satisfaction.
It also is terribly important to have strong, clear goals. Goal orientation implies a commitment to results, and it also implies the need for a strong commitment to measurement.
Q.: Coming to Harris marks a major inflection point not only for the bank, but for your career. What are your feelings about the upcoming move to Chicago from Canada? McNALLY: I've been dealt a wonderful deck. This is a chance to be at the top of the list in terms of the flow of reinvestment monies.
I have a clear understanding of how to access the experience, expertise, and resources required to facilitate and support Harris in its evolution into new businesses -- and the bank has a fine complement of executives.
There is so much to be excited about that I am simply that: excited.