Some Literary Spice

Hank Davis is the retail banking industry's everyman: young, scrappy, and a little bit skeptical about his career prospects and the greater purpose of his Midwestern bank branch.

But when a visit from the bank's chief executive prompts his co-workers to step up their game, Davis begins to see meaning in his job and a path to personal success. His story is told in "S.A.L.T. & Pepper," a new novella — and perhaps the first work of fiction to feature a branch banker as protagonist. S.A.L.T. stands for the lessons Davis learns about service, advice, leadership and teamwork. Pepper signifies the extra motivation he gets from the CEO, Ed Pepper.

The self-published book from Millennium Consulting Group is based on the observations of Millennium president Richard Henry, who has worked with financial services companies for 15 years. He and co-author Rick Miller said they hope that Davis, a composite of people Henry has met in the industry, will seem familiar to branch managers and bank executives looking to boost their employees' sense of engagement.

"It's not necessarily a comprehensive training manual," Henry said. "It's more a call to the leadership, to say, 'How do I turn the light on in people's heads, and how do I inspire them to see that vision of themselves three or four years down the road as not the teller but maybe as the assistant manager and, later, not as the assistant manager but maybe the district manager.' "

Copies are available at and at, where they are priced at $17.90.

Wilmers Sounds Off

M&T Bank chief executive Robert Wilmers said what a lot of others in the commercial banking world have been thinking, with an op-ed article in The Washington Post this week that blamed Wall Street for the financial crisis and called on regulators to restore the balance of oversight between commercial banks and the shadow banking system.

An example of the double standard he sees: It took M&T 10 weeks and a promise to divest three branches before it could get approval to buy a modest-size bank in Utica, N.Y., he wrote, but Goldman, Sachs & Co. last fall managed to get a commercial bank charter in a matter of days.

Interim RMA Chief

The Risk Management Association is playing musical chairs with industry veterans. Ken Chalke, who retired as the chief risk officer at BB&T Corp. in 2008, joined the Philadelphia organization this month as its interim president and chief executive. He succeeded Kevin Blakely, who left in June to become the chief risk officer at Huntington Bancshares Inc. "This is definitely an interim role," said Chalke, 63, when reminded that Blakely had come out of retirement two years ago to lead the association. The association is planning to hire a search firm this summer. Chalke expects to stay three to six months.

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