Back in Banking

Robin Robeson found at least two big benefits to taking a detour in her banking career a few years ago for a management role with a software company. Working in an unregulated industry for a change was fun, and she developed an appreciation for all that software she took for granted as a banking executive.

"I was a user of it, but I was never really much involved in the strategy and I can't say that I understood all the technology behind what we were using. And now I do. I look at things with a different set of eyes."

Those eyes will now be on the day-to-day operations of Guaranty Federal Bancshares in Springfield, Mo., where she started as chief operating officer on July 30.

Robeson previously spent 10 years with The Commerce Trust Co., also in Springfield, before temporarily leaving the industry for a COO-type role with Duck Creek Technologies, which was sold to Accenture in2011.


nCino Man

When Live Oak Bank in Wilmington, N.C., needed an operating system, it decided to build one on its own. Bank President and COO Neil Underwood and Chairman and CEO Chip Mahan spearheaded the development. Their aim: a system that would never require that data be entered more than once, and one that would allow the status of loans and loan documents to be seen in real time.

The benefits of what they came up with were sizeable enough that Live Oak decided to market the technology to other banks. And a separate company called nCino (a play on encino, the Spanish word for live oak) was born.

Enter Pierre Naude, a longtime financial technology executive and, like Mahan, a veteran of S1 Corp., the software development firm acquired last year by ACI Worldwide. Naude came to nCino on Feb. 20 and had his first six customers signed by April, though the company didn't announce its official launch until early August.

Naude (he's from South Africa, not France, though he's lived in the United States long enough that you'd be hard pressed to place the accent) says nCino can shave weeks off the processing time for originations. He envisions nCino eventually building a client portal, so that even borrowers can track the status of their loan documents in the cloud.


Kanas' Comeback

With some areas of his noncompete agreement now expired, BankUnited CEO John Kanas looks ready to make his New York return a splash. From branches of Herald National Bank that it bought earlier this year, BankUnited is hoping to launch in New York with at least 30 lenders on board, according to analysts at KBW, which hosted Kansas at a recent investor dinner. KBW predicts many of those staffers will come from among the 350 former North Fork lenders now with Signature Bank.

Kanas can't poach anyone from North Fork's acquirer, Capital One, until February 2013. Nor can he close any acquisitions of his own before then. But analysts expect BankUnited to start looking soon for New York targets that match Kanas' interests (C&I, yes; multifamily housing, no, according to KBW ). The analysts say BankUnited's New York market potential could equal or surpass the $2 billion pace of annual loan growth in its home state of Florida.


Big Apple, Middle Market

As TriState Capital Bank's new market president in New York, Thomas Gilmartin says he's busily putting together a team of seasoned bankers, "25-year veterans who have been in the market." In other words, bankers a lot like him.

Gilmartin, a native New Yorker with nearly 30 years in the industry, worked for Fleet Bank and Commerce Bank (pre- and post-merger with TD Bank) before joining up with Pittsburgh-based TriState, which formed in January 2007 and has grown to $1.9 billion in assets, along the way expanding into Ohio, New Jersey and now New York.

Gilmartin says his New York team will focus mainly on the middle market-manufacturers, wholesalers and other credits that he says "the big players don't want and the small players can't do."

He says it's part of TriState's culture to focus hiring efforts on bankers with at least a couple decades of experience for underwriting jobs. But on the portfolio side, he's interviewing pups with eight to 10 years of experience.


Keeping Clients Entertained

It's been a busy year for Heidi Steiger, eastern region president of The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank. Last fall, there was a private showing of the work of Miami artist Enrique Martínez Celaya, for clients and prospects in town for Art Basel Miami. In spring, Steiger hosted fashion-minded clients at a Douglas Hannant runway show in New York. And this summer, she gave clients access to a hot ticket in Nashville, the Broadway-bound stage production of "The Nutty Professor," directed by the star of the 1963 film, Jerry Lewis. As the presenting sponsor, The Private Client Reserve brought clients to special performances and arranged for meetings with the cast and crew, including a dinner where Lewis did about 45 minutes of stand-up.

Steiger (pictured with Lewis above) was excited to share a table with Lewis and his wife and was impressed to learn that he has performed for six U.S. presidents. She's also excited about the impact the sponsorship seems to have had on prospects. "It has already raised our visibility quite a bit in Nashville," she reports.


Wall Street's Own Evel Knievel?

Since disclosing JPMorgan Chase's multibillion-dollar trading losses, Jamie Dimon has had to leap through some fiery hoops on Capitol Hill. But that still doesn't explain how 4 percent of American adults, when asked to identify Dimon, came up with "daredevil motorcyclist," in a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll conducted this summer. In all, just 14 percent correctly identified the CEO of the largest U.S. bank as a "New York banker." Two-thirds of respondents said they didn't know who he was and failed to even hazard a guess. Others get points for creativity: 9 percent guessed he was a "Texas congressman," and 7 percent wagered he was an "X-Games skateboarder." The poll, covering various cultural and current events, was conducted by telephone June 22-25 and had 990 participants.

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