M&T is the new kid on the banking block.
At the end of May 2008, New York-based M&T Bank bought Provident Bank of Maryland, which has eight branches in Richmond.
While most of the 135 acquired branches are in Maryland, M&T officials have been eager to grow the business in the Richmond market. (You can read more about M&T’s take over of Provident here. )
Hugh Newton was picked to be the regional president of the Central Virginia region; he previously was a Provident vice president of commercial banking for the greater Washington region.
BizSense caught up with Newton and asked him his strategy and goals for M&T in the Richmond area.
Below is an edited transcript.
Richmond BizSense: How does M&T plan to engage the local business community from a lending standpoint?
Hugh Netwon: One of the strengths of M&T has been and is SBA lending. It’s too early to talk about the Richmond market yet, but M&T as an SBA lender in most markets usually ranks in the top three.
RBS: As a new bank in the Richmond market, how are you going about getting the word out?
HN: For the folks who know M&T already, they really like it. For everybody else, the challenge is getting out a clear message on our history and strength and how we can bring that to the Richmond market.
We developed a strategy of how to own the markets around our 11 branches in Central Virginia. In a three- or four-mile radius around each branch, we started an aggressive calling program [aimed at surrounding businesses].
Next, we’ve identified market segments where M&T has strength and expertise — nonprofits, health care and government — where we can point to real examples of the success we’ve had.
RBS: Do you find it challenging being the “new kid on the block”?
HN: Because of the disruption in the last few years, our market research shows a high propensity for businesses to be open to the idea of another bank. Our research shows that is a situation occurring for sometime, and on the street level we hear it all the time.
RBS: Most of the branches acquired through Provident are concentrated in Maryland. How does M&T view the Richmond market?
HN: We very much like characteristics of the Richmond market. Richmond will become more of a beachhead than the outpost.
RBS: What specific characteristics make Richmond an attractive market?
HN: Income levels, population growth and businesses creation. It has a lot of the business we like, those between $2 million and $10 million in revenue, and $10 million to $150 million. There are a lot of those companies in Central Virginia.
RBS: How would you describe the transition from Provident to M&T?
HN: The cultures are very similar; there was not a dramatic shift in the way we deal with customers. Provident was a community-based institution; M&T is a much larger institution that has broken itself into 17 community banking markets. Central Virginia is my bank, and we operate it as a community bank in the shell of a larger institution.
We still try to keep the message very local.
RBS: What changes have been made to the Provident way of doing things?
HN: We beefed up and added to our staff to do mortgage lending and residential mortgage banking. Provident outsourced its mortgage origination. Under M&T, we have added three mortgage bankers. That was an identified shortfall in the Provident approach.
RBS: Where do you see M&T in Central Virginia doing five years from now?
HN:Five years from now, as a bank, M&T likes to be a top four bank. Over a five-year period, we’re going to want to have a larger market share than we have now.
We’re in a growth mode, where other banks are scaling back. Richmond is a huge growth opportunity. I see Richmond starting to fill in, but there is no timeline.
Al Harris covers banking for BizSense. Please send news tips to [email protected]