Proud to Be in Banking

The Republican side of the race to fill the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl of Wisconsin includes a former governor, a state assembly speaker, a former congressman and this man, longtime community bank investor Eric Hovde.

A Wisconsin native and the chairman and largest shareholder of Sunwest Bank in Orange County, Calif., Hovde says his business experience sets him apart from the rest of the GOP field. "We need citizen legislators who have spent time in the private sector and who have the skills to put our economy back on track," he said in announcing his candidacy in March.

Hovde's website touts his ties to banking. His candidate bio mentions one of his early industry plays, from 1994: "Using his life savings, he bought a controlling stake in Monarch Savings Bank. Eric turned that business around, and since that time, he has invested in several community banks around the country and created hundreds of jobs."

Hovde isn't the only banking player running for office. John Delaney, the chairman of CapitalSource, a commercial lender in Bethesda, Md., is running for Congress as a Democrat in Maryland's 6th District. The seat is held now by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican.

 

'Culture Boy'

Ray Davis, president and CEO of Umpqua Holdings, remembers what audiences used to think when he would take the stage at investor forums in New York, back in the days before anyone on Wall Street had pinpointed the source of Umpqua's success.

"I could almost hear them saying, 'Oh no, here comes culture boy,'" Davis says. He got a lot of smiles when he shared that memory with fellow retail bankers at a recent American Banker conference, where he spoke a lot about-what else?-culture.

Don't let the ice cream trucks fool you. Umpqua's zanier ideas speak to a culture that also really knows how to steal market share. That's how Umpqua, with one of the most admired cultures in banking, has proven that culture matters to the bottom line-even if the spreadsheet jockeys still struggle with the concept now and then.

 

Life Saver

When physician Frank Anderson collapsed during a pickup basketball game a few months ago, it was a banker, Steve Huston, who ran and grabbed a defibrillator and delivered the shock that restarted Anderson's heart.

Huston knew where to find the automated external defibrillator, or AED, because the bank he owns-Bankwest Financial in Rockford, Minn.-had donated it in 2005 to the elementary school where the pickup game was held.

The bank had placed nine other AEDs around town through an initiative called Heart Safe Communities. Interest in the program has been reignited by Huston's heroics on the court. "I would anticipate that we'll consider additional donations," Huston says.

The doctor he saved, a 32-year-old husband and father, later learned he has a rare heart condition and has since had a defibrillator implanted, Huston says.

 

True Original

The first and only CFO in Associated Banc-Corp's history is stepping down this summer after 39 years with the company. Joe Selner, 65, joined Associated in 1973 as an internal audit manager and became CFO in 1983, shortly before the company went public. He's been in the job ever since, guiding the Green Bay, Wis., company through acquisitions and, more recently, helping it recover from steep losses on real estate loans. Succession planning began last summer, with Deputy CFO Christopher Del Moral-Niles getting groomed for the role.

 

Worthy Promotion

Add Dallas to the long list of Fed banks with female heads of banking supervision. Ann Worthy, a staffer at the Dallas Fed since 1969, moved into the role April 1. Women also run supervision in the New York, Chicago, Richmond, San Francisco and St. Louis districts.

 

Supported for Speaking Out

Cathy Bessant wasn't speaking on behalf of Bank of America when she urged defeat of a measure that would ban gay marriages and civil unions in North Carolina. But Bessant, BofA's global technology and operations chief, made her employer look plenty progressive anyway when she made a YouTube video with a group fighting to vote down Amendment 1 on May 8. BofA has taken no formal stance on the issue, but when the press came calling about the video, it was ready with a detailed statement about its numerous inclusion efforts and its policy by which employees are "allowed and encouraged to be involved in their personal capacity in dialogue" on "important public issues." Bessant calls the proposed ban "a direct challenge to our ability to compete nationally for jobs" and says big corporations "hate this kind of controversy. They deal with diverse work populations for whom issues like this ... are important indicators of the diversity and meritocracy of the companies where they want to work."

 

He's Consistent: Fulton Financial CEO R. Scott Smith Jr. says he believes "that long-term, loyal employees create long-term, loyal customers, who create long-term, loyal shareholders. I have strived to create a company culture where that strategy is pervasive." And how. Smith, who announced he will retire at the end of the year, has been with Fulton Bank since 1978. His successor, E. Philip Wenger, is newer, having joined in 1979.

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