David Bohne is going back to his roots.
Bohne left USAA Federal Savings Bank in San Antonio last year after serving eight years as president, took a year to reassess his career, and has found a landing spot — Broadway Bank, a family-owned financial institution also in San Antonio that has hired him to be chief executive.
Considering his background with a prominent, national player like USAA, why opt for all the headaches that go with running a $3 billion-asset bank in today's climate?
That's easy (relatively speaking), says Bohne, who was raised in a suburb of San Antonio. It's a chance to run a community-focused bank in a town he knows very well, and he insists there are things small banks are able to do that bigger rivals cannot.
"I wanted to go into a community bank because it has the potential to be fun again," Bohne, 48, said. "The regulatory environment with the big banks has taken the fun out of those roles."
Broadway had other appeals, too. It is more diversified than his previous employer, Bohne argues, noting that it has lines of business in commercial real estate and wealth management unlike USAA. Additionally, USAA is fairly unusual in not having a traditional branch network, given its focus on members of the military, while Broadway operates nearly 40 branches.
"We were a big bank, but we were retail only," Bohne said in describing USAA, whose assets grew from $44 billion to more than $69 billion during his tenure as president. And "this gives me opportunities to learn great customer service face to face."
Bohne left his old job in February 2015 and describes his departure as amicable. He said his decision to leave was tied to the retirement at about the same time of then-USAA CEO Joe Robles Jr. because it made him re-evaluate his position at the company.
There was some speculation that Bohne was a candidate for the CEO job, but Bohne told American Banker in an interview this week that USAA places a great deal of importance in the CEO being a veteran, and he had never served in the military. (Stuart Parker, the chief operating officer at the time, got the job.)
Bohne decided to step down, and he spent six months on family activities, including coaching his son's football and basketball teams. He also did some mission work.
Moreover, he took the time to look at several banks across the Midwest and on both coasts (he wouldn't name names), and said that he eventually decided he wanted to stay in San Antonio and zeroed in on Broadway as his target. Broadway had earned $37 million last year, compared with $29.6 million in 2014.
Bohne will officially succeed Jim Goudge as Broadway's CEO on May 2. Goudge is stepping down after 18 years as chief but will remain the chairman.
One of Bohne's main tasks will be to identify areas of potential growth, given his track record of helping guide the expansion of USAA. It won't be a completely alien task for him provided he digs deep into his own memory banks — when he started with USAA in 1993 its assets were similar in size to Broadway's today.
One area where he says Broadway has opportunity is in lending to technology companies.
"Venture capital is flowing into this area," Bohne said. He added that small-business lending and even the mortgage business present real growth prospects.
Also working to Broadway's benefit is its lack of exposure to the energy industry compared with other rivals, Bohne said.
"I am very blessed to be walking into a bank that's been very conservative," he said. "They've done a good job of limiting exposure to things they don't understand."
Of course, Bohne also faces another new challenge: navigating family dynamics. Broadway was founded in 1941 by a husband-and-wife team, Col. Charles E. and Elizabeth Cheever. The Cheever family still owns a large majority of the bank, and several of its members served on the search committee that selected Bohne.
In keeping with his upbeat attitude, he cast family ownership as yet another advantage for Broadway.
"The people you're taking care of are your customers rather than the shareholders," he said. "That can be a much more profitable model than even some of the shareholder models out there."