In the first of a two-part interview, Frank Casale, Regional Vice President for Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts for TD Bank, discusses the challenge of recruiting and onboarding commercial Relationship Managers.
Ned Miller: Let’s start our conversation by talking about recruiting. It is challenging for a lot of banks to find and recruit the right kind of people.
Frank Casale: I’ve learned that recruiting is obviously a critical component of success. When recruiting for open positions I always consider how the person will fit into the team itself. Is there a specific market or skill-set we are looking for? Or is it simply adding a high-performer regardless of the targeted need? Just like high-performing RMs have prospects, it is important for sales managers to have a list of candidates. I often have coffee with prospective team members and always find time to chat with them at networking events. If managers don’t have a plan before a need arises, they often panic and are not able to identify good candidates. It becomes crisis management rather than executing a plan. I have my list of the top 3 candidates for credit analysts, portfolio managers, commercial RMs, support people, etc. I don’t panic; I just execute my plan.
Ned: How would you build a list of the top commercial bankers?
Frank: Banking is a close-knit community. We know the people out there. We know the top performers and always gravitate towards them. You know who they are basically because you have worked with a lot of them over the years. If you find someone who has been at a bank for 10 or 15 years that is a long time in today’s world. It is much different than it was in the fifties and sixties when folks stayed in their jobs for a long period of time. We have a lot of longevity in our organization and we are thankful for that.
Ned: Are there any types of questions you use for interviews that are revealing or helpful?
Frank: I like to know what their experiences have been with a bank sales processes. For example, is there a formal process and what do they think about that? I think it’s very important to have a
commitment to the sales process. I focus my questions on activities, behaviors, and how they monitor their sales progress.
Ned: Is it difficult once you have identified a high-performer to get them to make the switch?
Frank: Yes, it is pretty difficult. One of the hurdles is that successful RMs really have a vested interest in their portfolios. Good RMs take possession of those portfolios and consider them the number one reason why the customers are at the bank. They don’t want to abandon those customers so they stay put.
Ned: One of the things that some senior managers expect is that a successful RM is going to be able to bring over his or her former customers. What has been your experience with that?
Frank: Well, that was the case before the 2008 recession. A lot of folks right before the great recession had gone into different types of derivative products and were locked in. Then deepening relationships became more of a priority at many banks. Before 2008 maybe you didn’t have a lot of products with those customers. Now you have an entire lineup of appropriate financial tools that have been offered to the customers to assist them in running their companies more efficiently. It is tough to untangle that web of products and services. In today’s world if high-performing RMs take 10% of their portfolio with them I think that’s a success and everything above that is extraordinary.
Ned: Is there a difference when recruiting millennials?
Frank: We have hired a few young folks over the past couple of years and they seem
to be motivated to learn. They can be a little impatient, but it is a good impatience. They are motivated by people their managers spending time with them. I think it is important that millennials get a lot of mentoring by the bank’s senior managers.
Ned: What kind of advice would you give to a credit analyst who wants to become an RM?
Frank: We do a good job of getting credit analysts involved at large networking events or smaller one-on-one sessions with local COIs. It is really important to get them out from behind their desks and get them in front of prospects and customers. We make a point to emphasize that younger employees need to network. There are various networking organizations for professionals 35 years old and younger and we encourage our bankers to go those events. We have a great relationship with the Rhode Island Society of CPAs, which has a professional affiliates membership. We recently had a regional CPA firm hold a seminar for us on the changing accounting methods for leasing and not-for- profits.
Ned: That is what we have seen as well. Let me ask how you on-board a new RM.
Frank: It’s the sales manager’s job to make that transition as seamless as possible. I have been lucky to work at banks with extremely capable HR partners that have formal on-boarding processes. We
also make a point to put together a gift package to make them feel welcome when they walk in that first day. This could include a baseball cap, a shirt, a portfolio with the bank’s logo on it, etc. Whatever we have with the company logo on it that makes new hires feel like they’re members of the team as soon as they arrive on day 1 is great. I think one of the most important things is having the technology, the business cards and the office supplies ready from the moment they arrive. Something that we pride ourselves on are introductions with all the business partners and employees. I think it really important that you get them up and running as quickly as possible.
Ned: What is the value of having a new RM follow or shadow one of your existing team members?
Frank: That is important as far as getting to know the bank’s intranet which has a lot of information on what the RM needs to know to be successful. It’s really important for the RM to have some kind of mentor or person there for the first week or so. I think it is the manager’s responsibility to spend a lot of time on-boarding a new RM.
Ned: How frequently do you meet with new RMs during their first month on the job?
Frank: In our organization the team is centrally located with me in the region. In the past I’ve had a team that was decentralized. This made it a little more difficult to find time to go out and meet with them. Being centrally located, I don’t find it difficult to get together with the RMs. We have a weekly pipeline meeting. We have a lot of informal discussions daily. That is the advantage of having the team centrally located. There is a lot of informal coaching and discussions that take place every day.
In the second part of this interview, which will be published next week, Frank Casale discusses his sales management routines and answers questions about coaching.
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