There’s been a changing of the local guard at one of the larger banks operating in the Richmond market.
M&T Bank has named Cecilia Hodges as the new president of its central and southern Virginia region, following the retirement last week of longtime local head Hugh Newton.
Newton officially stepped down on May 22 after 42 years in banking.
Hodges herself is no newcomer to the industry. She’s been in banking for 28 years and most recently ran M&T’s commercial real estate banking operations in central and northern Virginia.
Hodges grew up in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and graduated from Virginia Tech.
She began her career in banking in Northern Virginia and has been with previous incarnations of M&T for 18 years. She and Newton have worked together for 15 years.
Hodges said her goal in her new position is to continue to grow M&T’s presence in Richmond.
“We really do want to grow the market substantially. We really hope to grow the state of Virginia substantially,” she said. “We look at Richmond as the hub of our activities throughout Virginia.”
Having observed how the Richmond market operates compared to Northern Virginia, Hodges said she sees plenty of opportunity for M&T to continue to grow here, particularly in commercial real estate lending.
“The differences (between Richmond and NoVA) are all of the big banks are very active in the Northern Virginia market,” she said. “And we’ve seen some of the larger competitors, particularly on commercial real estate, pull out of Richmond.”
As for Newton, he’s already reveling in his first few days of retirement.
“I have to tell you, after 42 years, it feels pretty sweet,” he said.
After graduating from Virginia Tech, Newton started in banking at the former Virginia National Bank in Hampton. He came to Richmond to Central National Bank and then headed to Baltimore on what he thought would be a brief stint. Thirty years passed at several banks that eventually became part of Bank of America before his career finally brought him back to Richmond to run the commercial banking side of Provident Bank – which would later be acquired by M&T.
Newton, who turns 64 in July, said he and his wife plan to soon settle in a new home in Williamsburg. That will take him back closer to his roots – he grew up in that area and went to grad school at William & Mary.
He said he’ll still stay involved in various groups around Richmond, including M&T’s local advisory board and through his role as treasurer of Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.
Looking back on four decades in the business, Newton thought about what’s changed, and what hasn’t.
“I think the basics are still the same,” he said. “What’s most fascinating is what’s happened with interest rates. I’ve seen prime go as high as 19.5 to 20 percent. I don’t even know what it is today, it’s so low.”
At $98 billion in total assets, Buffalo-based M&T is one of five large multi-regional banks to have a major presence in Richmond.
M&T entered the Richmond market in 2009 through the acquisition of Provident Bank.
The bank now has five branches and 49 employees in the area. M&T controlled nearly $70 million in local deposits, accounting for about 0.1 percent of the local market share, according to the most recent data from the FDIC.
Newton said one of the challenges for his successor will be continuing to get the M&T name out in Richmond.
Hodges said she plans to get out around town and get a better feel for the market in the first part of her tenure.
“Probably for the first few months, I’ll do what I call a listening tour, trying to understand what’s important to folks in that market,” she said.