The executives setting the strategy at Citizens Bank of Edmond have not only revived the once-troubled community bank, but are turning it into a model of success.
President and CEO Jill Castilla and her management team, half of which is female, helped lead the 112-year-old bank to its best year ever in 2013. Earnings jumped 91.5% from the previous year, to $4.2 million. The growth emphatically underscores a successful turnaround of the bank, which had a regulatory order lifted in March 2012.
CEOs don't succeed by themselves, of course. But look across the executive ranks at Citizens Bank of Edmond and it's tough to find a business metric that isn't directly attributable to a team led by a woman.
Chief Financial Officer Lisa Trent's management helped the bank's return on assets and return on equity to nearly double in 2013 compared with the previous year. Amy Bailey, the chief lending officer, was instrumental in building out the mortgage department and improving underwriting standards, contributing to an 18% rise in loans in 2013 from a year earlier.
Cynthia Hendershot, the chief operating officer, did her part, most recently by leading an initiative to sell three of the bank's five branches without losing customers, thereby decreasing operating expenses. She also helped lead a cross-training initiative that merged lending with retail operations for better efficiency. And Chelsea Bradshaw, the chief risk officer, helped oversee a reduction in end-of-year chargeoffs by 58% in 2013. This year the bank has recovered more than it has charged off.
Castilla used a lot of creativity to help keep the bank afloat in recent years and get it healthy again. She says the decision to sell three branches was particularly risky, because she knew many customers affected by the closures would still want to be able to interact with tellers. So she earmarked a portion of the $2.3 million from the sale to buy ATMs with interactive video screens, and when a vendor ended up being unable to deliver, reached out to two local technology companies to develop her own solution.
Castilla had the companies collaborate on making a video kiosk that combines the bank's ATMs with an interactive video monitor and camera positioned next to the ATM screen. It allows customers to speak with tellers at the bank's main drive-up window just as if they were at a branch. The kiosks were deployed in the areas where branches had been closed.
Having a video system that's separate from the ATM actually works out better than what she initially planned to buy from the vendor. "Because, if the ATM is down, our customers can alert a teller that they're having some kind of difficulty," she says. During off hours, the kiosks often play YouTube videos that Castilla has made with her employees, including a parody of the pop music video "Gangnam Style."
Developing the kiosks cost the bank $16,000 a tenth of the price of what interactive ATMs would have cost. Castilla says her experience shows that community banks can be on "the bleeding edge of technology." All it takes, she says, is "time and investment."
2013 Financial Highlights:
Assets: $252 million
Female representation among corporate officers: 57%
Female representation on operating committee: 53%
The Team: Amy Bailey, Chelsea Bradshaw, Jill Castilla, Cathy Donald, Rachael Fedor, Debbie Hamm, Carrie Harris, Gail Heierding, Cynthia Hendershot, Bridget Jaime, Kinzie Jerman, Kindra Shantz, Audrey Stoner, Meghan Thomas, Lisa Trent, Diana Trumbly, Aimee Yarbrough