Last spring Ronnie Smith, head of Corporate Banking at Regions, sat down with CEO John Turner to share how his team is putting strategy into action. From adding new talent to technology innovations and new initiatives, the Corporate Banking team has been laser-focused on improving the client experience while expanding capabilities to reach new clients — from large corporate and mid-sized commercial to small entrepreneurial and family-owned businesses.
This month’s Strategy in Action aptly pairs Brian Willman, head of Commercial Banking, and Joel Stephens, head of Capital Markets, for a look at the ways Corporate Banking has expanded over the past year to reach more clients and offer more financial solutions than ever before.
Small Businesses are the Heartbeat of the Local Economy
An especially challenging time for small businesses, the global pandemic highlighted the growing gap in financial services for potentially vulnerable business segments. In 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program allowed financial institutions to provide a temporary lifeline to many of these businesses. But despite that many still struggled once the funding program closed out.
“What we’re hearing from these prospects is that they haven’t heard from their current bank in more than two years,” said Willman.
Enter the Commercial Banking Solutions Business Development team.
Launched earlier this year, this dedicated group of bankers is working to connect those often-overlooked businesses to local bankers as they look ahead to a brighter future.
On average these bankers make 50 calls per day, reaching the decision makers and introducing them to all of the products and services Regions can offer to help them reach their financial goals.
In addition, Coulter Warlick was brought on to lead the new Corporate Commercial Finance team, partnering the products and expertise of the Capital Markets team to form a more strategic advisory platform for Regions’ core commercial clients.
“It starts with the needs of the client and understanding what those are,” Willman said. “Whether it is to connect with a local RM (relationship manager) or a specialized product, we want to give them solutions to help eliminate some of the financial stressors they may be facing in their business.”
Combining that with the power of the SBA Lending and Franchise Lending teams, Regions is now better able to serve the myriad financial needs of small businesses across industries and sectors as a larger part of the economic recovery.
“Within the first year of Coulter and his team being in place, we increased capital markets revenue from the commercial bank 21 percent in 2021,” Stephens said.
Welcome to the Family
In 2020, Regions welcomed Ascentium Capital, a leading business equipment financing and leasing company to the family. As of today, Ascentium products are now available throughout the Regions branch network, serving the equipment financing needs of small businesses across the footprint – and beyond.
Last year saw the acquisitions of two capital markets businesses, Sabal Capital Partners and Clearsight Advisors, expanding these capabilities to reach more clients in the real estate financing and technology sectors. Regions now holds the full suite of agency lending services with the 2021 addition of Freddie Mac licensing as part of the real estate lending platform in Capital Markets.
“We have had early success there. We closed 84 loans for $284 million in volume in Sabal Capital Partners in the first quarter,” Stephens said. “All of those acquisitions we made over the course of the last year represent an opportunity for us to broaden our product offerings to meet client needs for our Corporate and Commercial clients, as well as those in Real Estate Banking to create shared value. In many of these offerings, we are able to help the community as well.”
Why Join Regions?
Expanding the capabilities in Corporate Banking with new teams, new initiatives and new products and solutions means Regions is hiring.
“Our culture is the No. 1 reason folks are coming to Regions,” said Willman. “Our culture here is very unique. We believe in work-life balance. We believe in working hard. We believe in financial results. We believe in doing the right thing. And we believe in having fun while doing all those things.”
Our culture is the No. 1 reason folks are coming to Regions.
Brian Willman, head of Commercial Banking at Regions
“Agreed – our culture is our value proposition for potential candidates to join Regions,” said Stephens. “I hear from bankers in the recruiting process, and they want to feel confident that they can take care of their clients. And they want to see a pathway for growth – our platform provides that.”
The momentum in Corporate Banking is palpable. Results from recent earnings reflect how this growth strategy is already paying dividends. Expect to see more successes as capabilities continue to expand.