When the head of the small-business department left West Virginia's One Valley Bank last year, the president didn't bother searching for one new person with the qualifications to lead the department.
Instead, president Phyllis H. Arnold split the job and promoted two executives who had the right blend of credit analysis, sales, and management skills.
Ms. Arnold's decision illustrates the challenge facing senior bank executives trying to fill posts in a rapidly developing field that requires a blend of retail and commercial banking talent.
One Valley Bank will not promote or recruit anyone to be a regional manager if they don't have small-business experience. It tries to train its staff to serve entrepreneurs.
"We try to work with them and move them around during their development so they have the skills we need," Ms. Arnold said.
The human resources challenge is even more complicated because banks are reworking their small-business divisions to expand outside their geographic boundaries and generate more profits.
In recent years, banks have begun more aggressive marketing, compiled customer data bases, and set up centralized loan centers to automate small- business credit approvals.
For example, PNC Bank Corp., which has promoted Anuj Dhanda, the manager of its small-business loan center, to regional business banking manager, must now look for a successor who can wear several hats. Mr. Dhanda said his replacement at the center, which only began full operations in May, would need an understanding of the small-business market, risk management, business development, and human resources skills.
A.J. Desposito, PNC senior vice president of business banking, said he is considering several qualified candidates. Credit management skills developed in commercial or consumer lending can be transferred to small business, he said.
"It's a tedious job because you are looking for just the right person," Mr. Desposito said. "But there are quality people out there."
However, skilled people are hard to find, said Bradley Christensen, executive vice president of Emergent Business Capital, the seventh-largest Small Business Administration lender in the country.
Emergent advertised an opening for a credit manager and a regional sales manager for the Upper Midwest several months ago.
Officials reviewed 12 resumes for the credit management job but got none for regional sales manager.
"It is such a specialized field," Mr. Christensen said, "and we are looking for people to wear more than one hat."
Mr. Christensen said Emergent wants highly motivated people with management, sales, and credit analysis skills. He said he thought bankers would have the right training for the post with his nonbank lending company.