It was October 2010 when federal regulators shut down Security Savings Bank, and almost simultaneously sold the Olathe-based bank and its branches to Simmons First National Bank.
It was an interesting time for Andrea Scarpelli, who two years before had become the community president for Security Savings in Wichita, which operated two branches here.
Scarpelli, who had spent nearly 20 years as a commercial lender for the former Bank IV and Bank of America, knew Security had problems.
Still, when the closing and ownership transition occurred over that October weekend, she was pulled by two different emotions.
“It was worrisome, but it was also very invigorating,” said Scarpelli, now the Wichita president for Simmons First. “It was worrisome because I was concerned for both my clients and the people that worked for me. I wanted to be sure that Simmons would be able to take care of them and provide the services they needed. But it was invigorating because I was suddenly part of a much bigger institution that could meet the needs of a broader client base.”
The worry, she said, “is history.”
“It’s worked out great on both fronts,” Scarpelli said.
In the last year we expanded and added a new commercial lender. We’re also increasing our focus on commercial banking and cash management services. 2013 has been another year of very successful commercial loan growth.
It’s … almost 35 percent loan growth in outstanding dollars between 2012 and 2013, and that’s been a direct result of both new relationships and expanding existing relationships.
Competition continues to be very strong. Wichita is very fortunate that we have many strong commercial banks, unless you’re a commercial banker. Then, you have a lot of strong competition.
It’s really all about relationship building and being able to understand the needs of the customer. We aren’t the least expensive, but we try to be aggressive and progressive in meeting our clients’ needs.
I think what it boils down to is you have to look at each commercial relationship differently, try to customize their loan or financing need to best fit their purposes while still protecting the quality of the bank’s portfolio. … It’s really understanding the real risk and not trying to make everything in the same box.
I think it just kind of happens. There aren’t a lot of jobs open so when there’s an opening … it kind of becomes a domino effect. You have one hole and all of a sudden you’ve got to reshuffle the deck to fill that hole. I do believe that people are always looking for good talent, so when you have the opportunity to bring someone on board, you always want to take that opportunity.
It’s kind of the same thing, only next year. We want to continue to build brand awareness, we want people to understand we’re a full-service bank that’s part of a $4 billion institution and that we want to continue at a pace where we will continue to execute flawlessly.
On the retail side we’re adding as we can. We’re constrained because we only have two retail locations, so our growth is smaller on the retail side. But we do offer great products and great services.
Branches are an important part. And our retail products are good, if not better – especially from a fee perspective – than some of our competitors’. You just have to find us.
It is our desire to have a larger branch network in Wichita and in Kansas. Because our organization is an acquiring organization, I know there are efforts to find those fits all the time.
To be a responsible corporate citizen and to treat people with respect, and to make sure you always do everything above reproach.
Oh, absolutely. That’s part of the beauty of the Simmons organization, is we have a lot of local autonomy. We also have a high level of autonomy within the state of Kansas. That part of the reason … we can have some of the flexibility we need to set ourselves apart from (competitors).
It’s the regulatory disaster, it is. It really is. Ultimately you can get close to the same stuff done, but it is much harder to navigate through all the various regulations to get it done. There’s just been this level of complexity added to it that makes it so much harder.
I’m probably a nine. And it would be a 10 if I could work at home in my pajamas.