Harrison Steans remembered for decades of leadership in Chicago banking

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Harrison Steans, a veteran Chicago banker who helped Cole Taylor Bank survive the financial crisis, has died.

Steans, who was 83, had been suffering from congestive heart failure, according to a press release issued by his family office.

Steans entered banking when he bought Hyde Park Bank & Trust in 1967. He would use that deal to create USAmeribancs, a six-bank holding company in Highland Park, Ill., that was sold in 1987 to NBD Bancorp in Detroit.

Steans was part of a group that pumped $120 million into Taylor Capital in late 2009, helping the parent of Cole Taylor Bank make it through the aftermath of the financial crisis. The investors were rewarded in 2013 when Taylor was sold to MB Financial for $680 million.

MB Financial has since agreed to sell to Fifth Third Bancorp in Cincinnati.

The capital "gave us enough to survive," said Mark Hoppe, who had joined Taylor Capital in 2008 as CEO. Hoppe met Steans in June 2009 and had a handshake deal for the infusion a month later.

Steans also invested in other banks, including Bank One, where he clashed with its, CEO Jamie Dimon, when the bank cut its dividend in 2000.

"He's loud and irrepressible," Dimon, now the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, told Crain’s in a 2009 article. "But very knowledgeable."

Hoppe agreed that Steans could be opinionated, but never unreasonable.

"There was always a purpose" for Steans' strong views, Hoppe said, calling the banker one of his best mentors. "Everything he suggested was for the betterment of our bank."

Steans also served as chairman of LaSalle National Bank for five years until it was sold to ABN Amro in 1978.

Steans was also involved with Financial Investments Corp., a family office formed in the early 1990s. The office, now run by one of his daughters, was the conduit for his bank investments.

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