One career trap that perplexes a number of top community bankers is what to do next if they are so successful that their bank are sold out from under them.
Granted, all evidence indicates that the good community bank does not have to sell out. Economies of scale are not large enough to force a bank to be acquired to gain greater efficiency.
The personal strength and community attitude of the community, bank makes it a superior competitor in the local market. Flexibility, unwillingness to make quick decisions, and the skill to handle people as individuals usually give the local bank a major advantage of service superiority over its larger competitor.
But there is such a thing as an offer you can't refuse."
If an offer from some other organization or group of individuals is far above the current market price of the bank, the directors have a legal obligation to consider it, and the CEO who does not bring such an offer to his board is also looking for legal trouble.
So frequently one hears a CEO lament. "I did my job. I built the bank. The offer that we received made the shareholders rich and to a degree made me rich, too. But what do I do now?"
Of course a good CEO is not automatically out of a job when his bank is sold. Just the opposite is usually the case: The acquirers want him to stay, to help keep the bank on the successful path that made it so attractive as an acquisition candidate in the first place.
In some instances the deal is even predicated on the CEO remaining to run the bank for the new owners.
But all too often the new golden rule applies: He who provides the gold makes the rules.
And a top CEO often finds himself struggling to retain his enthusiasm or even his desire to come to work when he no longer is the boss and must take direction from someone else.
Sometimes bankers have died suddenly, forcing the bank to go outside for a new leader because the deceased CEO kept things so close to the vest that no one on staff was qualified to succeed him.
Most Act Responsibly
But most CEOs take their responsibility seriously and arrange to generate maximum shareholder value, even if it means that they must themselves make a drastic career change.
What do they do?
Some go out and take over another bank in an effort to start at the bottom and do it all over again.
Some stay, bite the bullet, and decide they will be rich even if not as happy as they were in the past.
Some leave banking altogether. They go into another industry or they manage a small hotel or do something that is so different from banking that they can forget for days at a time that they had been a bank CEO, with all the power and glory that this entailed in the community and in the bank.
Maybe there are different routes that ex-CEOs who have been too successful can take.
The Weekly Adviser would love to hear from you at the address printed below.
Your experience and suggestions may be of great use to other community bankers who have had to choose between trying to keep their job by discouraging buyout offers and doing what they felt was best for the bank's shareholders, even though it nipped their own successful careers in the bud.