President and CEO of FSGBank Mike Kramer, CFO John Haddock and Chief Credit Officer Chris Tietz sat down with the Times Free Press to talk about the bank's recent $91.1MM recapitalization. From impact to application, there is much going on for the organization as a whole.
Q: FSGBank recently achieved a $91.1MM recapitalization. What impact does that have on the bank, its employees and its clients?
A: It means the bank's capital levels are well above the traditional and current measures for a "well capitalized bank" as determined by the Office of the Comptroller (OCC). Our financial strength allows us to fund our clients' borrowing needs and gives us the ability to invest in our internal systems, our processes and invest in our people. This level of funding assures that we can grow with our clients as their needs change in their response to an evolving world around us.
Q: What is the new focus of FSGBank? <
A: It's pretty basic: our job is to help you do your job better. While we are a full-service bank, we are primarily focused on fulfilling the financial needs of small- to medium-sized business clients, their owners and their employees.
Q: How can a bank help someone do a job better?
A: It starts by listening. We aren't a big bank focused only on having millions of clients or really large clients. Our bankers have the time and will take the time to listen to you, to get to know you and understand your business's industry to figure out how FSGBank can help improve your current and future financial situation. Our bankers re asked to focus on taking care of the client's needs every day, not to sell the "hot product" of the day.
Q: We've heard a lot about how hard it is to borrow money from banks these days. How true is this at FSGBank?
A: Last year we originated $113 million+ in new commercial loans and 60 million-plus in new mortgages, and we are running significantly ahead of that pace this year. It is our goal to reinvest in our communities by making high-quality loans to help our customers and to help the economy grow. We've worked hard to implement systems, processes, training and new credit organization to make borrowing from us as straight -forward and as stress free an experience as possible. We have assembled the very best and brightest mortgage team that welcomes the opportunity to talk with anyone who is building, buying or refinancing their home and we'd love to talk with everyone who needs the advice of a down-to-earth, local, mortgage banker. With approval and underwriting right here in Chattanooga we now have one of the very best mortgage banks in the Tennessee Valley. In short, we are a community bank and part of our charter is to be a source of capital for businesses, homeowners and consumer borrowers in our markets - we have plenty of money to lend, we want to lend and we want it to be an enjoyable experience for our customers.
Q: Is there one thing that makes FSGBank different from other banks?
A: Life moves at varying speeds throughout its seasons: buying a fi rst house, starting a mall business, starting a college fund, growing a business, building a home, sending kids to college, downsizing a home, establishing a will, managing parents' health issues, etc. For all things there are seasons and for each time there is a different pace. We're trying to be the bank that understands and really cares about how these seasons impact our clients and move at a speed that is appropriate to our customer's needs.
Q: What does that look like?
A: We'll take the time to get to know a small business owner or manager and her business, to understand what her entire financial situation looks like before we start recommending products or solutions for her. What rings someone into the bank today may ultimately not be the real issue driving her business or personal financial situation as she understands it. For example, a loan request to help with cash flow may bring someone into the bank but as we get to know her and her business, we may discover her real issue may be that there is an opportunity to improve the speed and accuracy of her accounts receivable collection process resulting in her being able to use her cash more efficiently and ultimately borrow less than anticipated.
Q: You mentioned "personal financial situations." Do you bank individuals as well?
A: Absolutely, our focus is small and medium sized businesses, their owners and their employees. According to the Small Business Administration 99 percent of all businesses in the U.S. employ less than 500 people and well over half of all U.S. workers work for these companies. Our financial solutions for individual customers are designed to allow the customer to define how they'll interact with the bank. For the client who prefers face-to-face communication with our team members in a branch we have 30 convenient offices along the I-75 corridor from Dalton, Ga., to Knoxville, Tenn., and along the I-40 corridor from Cookeville to Dandridge, Tenn. Last year we upgraded our Internet banking product offering and we created a dedicated Customer Care Center designed to better serve customers' telephone banking needs. We are rolling out mobile and tablet banking applications this year and will continue to upgrade these products as hardware and software changes. For customers who travel outside of our core markets they can access their accounts through our National ATM network (MoneyPass) which provides access to more than 20,000 surcharge-free ATM's all across the country.