The organizer’s responsibilities are varied and time-intensive (usually 10-20 hours per month). A de novo or purchased bank project doesn’t get off the ground well unless the team of organizers is focused and unified. This means the organizers must be ready to contribute productively to committee discussions and assist in making informed planning decisions. Those decisions cover a variety of topics, from branding to operations:
• Branding: The organizers build the new bank’s brand from the ground up, deciding what the bank’s mission will be, how it will differentiate itself, what the logo will look like, etc.
• Human resources: The organizers must recruit and hire a qualified management team.
• Project management: A branch location must be selected and modified or built to suit the bank’s purposes. IT systems and other support vendors must be priced and selected, etc.
• Operations: The team must select the products and services the bank will offer and strategize on how those products and services will be distributed and fulfilled.
• Bank Policies: The organizers/new board of directors assist management in drafting and approving the bank’s policies and procedures, a very critical part of banking.
Contributing insights and shaping decisions are just the beginning of the organizer’s responsibilities. However, a pivotal part of what the organizer does is raise capital—both by investing his or her own money and by recruiting more investors to the project. The recruitment process begins with the organizer contributing a sizeable list of names of potential investors. Once the capital campaign gets started, the organizers must be willing participate in their share of the weekly meetings to pitch the investment opportunity.
The ideal organizers and where to find them
Obviously, not everyone is well suited to be a bank organizer. Decisions need to be made, networking needs to be done, and money needs to be raised. These tasks are not easily accomplished by someone who doesn’t have the right characteristics and skill sets. Ideally, your organizers will be:
• Visible in the community
• Motivated by challenge
• Outgoing, enthusiastic
• Able to juggle several projects at once successfully
Knowing what to look for is half the battle; the other half is knowing where to look to find it. The simplest means of locating potentially suitable organizers is to recruit within professions that typically attract the above qualities; below is a short list of professions:
• B2C service providers: Contractors, plumbers, dry cleaners, car dealers, insurance agents, general contractors, financial planners, doctors, dentists, real estate agents
• B2B service providers: CPAs, marketing consultants, real estate brokers, pharmaceutical account representatives, office supply representatives
• Niche business owners: franchise owners, hotel operators, ethnic market owners, retail store owners, technology providers
Here’s the big picture to remember when seeking out organizers. The organizers you select should operate successful businesses and have access to and represent the segments of the community your bank will serve. In addition, they must be motivated enough to stick with the project for the long-haul. And finally, it takes the right person to understand that starting a bank, or re-branding a purchased bank, is an enormously challenging, but ultimately rewarding endeavor.