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After a successful turnaround in Towson, AmericasBank is
targeting Marylands county seats for a family of community banking centers organized
to look, act, and feel like independent local banks
Regional Mid-Atlantic Banks
500 York Road
Towson, MD 21204
Mark H. Anders
President and CEO
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published August 31, 2007
MARK H. ANDERS, President/CEO
Mark Anders is the president and chief executive officer of AmericasBank Corp. and
AmericasBank. Mark was hired as president in July 2003. Since 1991, Mark has distinguished
himself in the turnaround of three community banks. Each of these banks had been started
de novo a decade before his hire and failed to achieve the financial goals required by its
investors and regulators.
AmericasBank Corp. is the parent company of
AmericasBank, a Maryland-chartered commercial bank headquartered in Towson, Maryland.
AmericasBank is dedicated to contributing to the growth and prosperity of the communities
it serves, with a special focus on serving the needs of the business community and
promoting home ownership.
CEOCFO: Mr. Anders, what was your vision when you became
CEO of AmericasBank and where are you today?
Mr. Anders: When I joined the company in July of
2003, my vision was to create a one-branch, high-performing community bank in Towson,
Maryland. Towson is the county seat of government of Baltimore County, which surrounds
Baltimore City. AmericasBank had two branches at that time and still does; the other one
is in the Highlandtown community in Baltimore City. We just announced our plans to expand
to Annapolis, Maryland. Our current strategy is very much focused on Towson and Annapolis;
we still have the Highlandtown office and we will be looking to expand it in the
CEOCFO: How have you created the community bank that
Mr. Anders: AmericasBank was a turn-around
prospect when I came in. The bank was chartered in 1996 and through mid-2003 had never
grown enough to be profitable. The Bank had serious management, capital, and regulatory
problems. I was brought in to turn it around in July of 2003, and initially we had a
simple goal -- to get the bank large enough to be profitable. The strategy was to build a
mortgage operation that would allow us to generate fee income from placing loans in the
secondary market and use the sales staff associated with that mortgage operation to help
build a loan portfolio. That strategy allowed us to expand our sales force on a variable
cost basis and to accelerate our asset growth without the overhead commitment involved in
hiring traditional lenders.
immediate turn-around strategy worked. We went public in March 2004, and since then
weve increased the assets of the bank from $25 million to $125 million. Now,
were into phase two of our strategy, which is to build our community-banking
platform and to make core deposit generation a primary focus. The vision in July 2003 was
to create a high-performing community bank in Towson, and given what we have accomplished
to date we are confident of our prospects -- so confident, in fact, that now
were taking that model to create banking centers in multiple locations.
Thats the strategy we announced publicly in May of this year to create a
family of community banks operated as divisions of AmericasBank. Our banking center in
Towson will become Towson Community Bank and our new banking center in Annapolis will be
Annapolis Community Bank. Each banking center will have a president and a business
development team that will focus on client and community development. Each will be coupled
with a mortgage-banking group that will help promote loan and fee income growth.
AmericasBank is becoming a family of community banking centers organized to look, act, and
feel like independent local banks. We believe that small, independently-operated community
banking centers can be highly profitable by providing the personal service and common
sense solutions not offered by big banks.
CEOCFO: Who is your typical customer?
Mr. Anders: The typical customer depends on
whether you are looking at our mortgage banking business or our community banking
business. On the community banking side, our target customer is the small professional
service firm that values personal service and dealing directly with decision-makers. These
customers will include attorneys, doctors, specialty healthcare providers, engineering and
accounting firms. Any professional service company would be a good target prospect.
the mortgage banking side, the typical loan customer could be an individual looking to buy
a new home (we sell these loans), or to a homeowner who wants to add on to their existing
home or to make other improvements, which accounts for the substantial growth in our home
equity loan portfolio. The typical loan customer could also be a real estate investor or
small builder looking to acquire property for development purposes, including the
acquisition and renovation of residential properties for sale or for investment. It could
also be to a business owner looking to buy or refinance a commercial property.
CEOCFO: How do you get your new customers and why are
they coming to you?
Mr. Anders: Small professional companies will
bank with a bank like AmericasBank because they can sit down with the actual decision
maker, someone with the experience and knowledge to understand the simplicity or
complexity of their particular situation, and together tailor a customized solution to
meet their specific needs. Both the bank and the client have an opportunity to build a
relationship; the people you saw yesterday are the people that you will see tomorrow, the
people you saw last year are the people you see can expect to see next year. Its
dependable, its comfortable, and its productive. And its the kind of
relationship that small professional services customers cant find at other
CEOCFO: How do you separate yourselves from other
local community banks that on the surface may appear to do what you are doing?
Mr. Anders: People make the difference in the
quality of the banking relationship that you have. We have invested in good people and we
have challenged them to develop their own markets. Most community banks have a capable
management group that gets further and further from the customer as the bank grows. Each
of our banking centers operate as independent banks. The goal is never to have our senior
staff too far away from the customer. So AmericasBank will grow by gradually adding new
banking centers but the centers themselves are stand-alone community banks, never
branches, and the president of the bank runs the unit, not a branch manager.
committed to finding the best bankers in each market for our banking center presidents,
people with long-standing ties to the area and a stake in the community, and giving them
decision-making power so our customers can get custom-fit solutions and dont have to
struggle through all the layers of management that they face at a typical branch of a
recent hires we have made in our Towson and Annapolis banking centers are very senior
bankers who have an established clientele of people that they have developed over a number
of years. Every banks money is the same color -- people make the difference
in the relationship you have with your bank, and that is where we are putting our
CEOCFO: Your website indicates a new way to bank
creative, flexible, responsive, please give us an illustration.
Mr. Anders: We were introduced by one of our
mortgage lending officers to a vice president at a large regional securities brokerage
firm, who heard about a house that was going on the market in an exclusive neighborhood in
the Baltimore area. He was interested in acquiring the house and felt that he needed to
submit a non-contingent contract with a quick close. He had not listed his house for sale,
nor did he want to divest himself of his investment portfolio in order to come up with
cash he would need. Within twenty-four hours, we approved a bridge loan for him to buy the
house. We then gave him a construction loan to allow him to build a major addition onto
the house. When the addition was completed, we arranged long term financing in the
secondary market. As a result, the client ended up with a new home in a neighborhood that
he desired, he created some nice equity in the property by improving it, and he reduced
his carrying costs on the property by refinancing his loan with longer-term permanent
financing. He remains a client of the bank today and, as you can imagine, is a very good
source of referrals for us. This is an example of how creative, flexible and
responsive works to produce loyal relationships that extend well beyond the
transactional nature of lending. The same is true of customers that need our depository or
funds transfer services.
CEOCFO: Please tell us about the family of banking centers
that you would like to develop.
Mr. Anders: When I came to AmericasBank in July
of 2003, the idea was to create a high-performing community bank in a sub-market like
Towson. The bank at the time was operating under a regulatory agreement and was
under-capitalized. We took the bank public in March of 2004 and in October of 2005, the
regulatory agreement we had been operating under since 2001was terminated. We completed a
secondary offering in March of 2006. When we were evaluating how much capital we should
raise in the secondary offering, we began to appreciate the fact that if we are able to
create a model for a high-performing bank in Towson, we could replicate this model in
other communities that had similar demographics to Towson.
What are the typical demographics were seeking? Well, Towson is a county seat
of government. The county seat typically is the area in the county with the highest
concentration of professional service businesses. The county seat is also the location of
one or more regional healthcare centers, and often the county seat is home to a college or
university as well. For all of these reasons, the county seat and its immediate environs
are centers of influence and affluence.
idea of creating a family of community banking centers was our answer to how we could
continue to grow at a steady pace without losing touch with what makes us different. Our
goal is to hire experienced bankers who want to make a difference in their local community
by creating a banking center that is creative, flexible and responsive to the needs of the
community and the people that live and work there. We want these banking centers to look,
act, and feel like independently operated community banks. That is why each will have a
local community identity. Small community banks, banks under $150 million in assets, can
be very profitable but they are not good growth stocks. We believe that a family of
community banks is the answer to how we can grow without compromising our basic service
model. We hope to have three to five banking centers in central Maryland by 2011.
CEOCFO: Sum it up for potential investors, why should
they show interest in AmericasBank now?
Mr. Anders: I still think community banks are a
good play. Multiples have fallen with the flattening of the yield curve and more recently
with concerns about the economy in general; however, mergers and consolidations in the
industry will continue and this will spawn new community banks and contribute to the
growth of existing community banks. We believe that we have a scalable model that will
allow us to enter new markets opportunistically and efficiently by leveraging our existing
capital and operations. Time to market is essential and we believe our model will allow us
to fill voids quickly before new banks form. We may not be able to keep other banks from
opening in response to a market opportunity, but we like the competitive position of being
one of the first.
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