Hal Brown is a banking professional with more than three decades of industry experience, who began his career with Pacific Continental Bank in 1985. During his tenure with PCB, Hal has served in several executive leadership positions including president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
In 2012, the Portland Business Journal named Hal as the ‘2012 CEO of the Year’ in the financial services category. In 2013, Hal was inducted into the Oregon Banker’s Association Hall of Fame.
Pacific Continental Bank, the operating subsidiary of Pacific Continental Corporation, delivers highly personalized services through 14 banking offices in Oregon and Washington.
Pacific Continental targets the banking needs of community-based businesses, professional service providers, including health care and veterinary professionals, and nonprofit organizations.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some of the unique services you offer that help your clients build a stronger and more profitable business?
Hal: I think every bank should be doing this, but since they don’t, what we do is unique. Pacific Continental Bank employees develop deep relationships with our clients. We invest the time and resources to really know our clients and offer solutions that fit their particular needs. Often this goes well beyond the financing of their business. We strongly believe our role as relationship bankers is not just to educate our clients on banking, but to make resources available to help them be as successful as possible.
Indeed, we hold a lot of seminars and education forums introducing our business owners and nonprofit managers to a wide range of best practices. Understanding the new healthcare law, marketing principles, cash flow analysis, and fraud detection are examples of recent education forums.
Finally, we hire people at the bank who aren’t just banking experts. They are experts in the industries that make up our market niches. Many of our relationship banking officers come from the ranks of our niche industries and intimately know the business workings of the people who are seated across the desk from them – because that is where they once sat. To my way of thinking, a bank is nothing more than a building until you put people in it, and we have the best people in the industry.
BusinessInterviews.com: What marketing strategies do you find most effective for attracting community-based business?
Hal: Simply stated, we market to the fish and not the lake. We are very strategic about how and where we tell our story. We look to tell our story through channels where we know our current and future clients will see and hear. We don’t do a lot of consumer banking, so we don’t generally use mass communications venues.
What this means is that we are very smart about the kind of niche marketing venues we do use and how we communicate our value proposition. In many instances, a guest article in a dental association magazine or a targeted banner ad in a nonprofit-focused blog is the best bang for our marketing buck.
Further, we develop a good amount of originally generated content that we actively push out to clients and prospective clients. Our clients get a healthy diet of business-focused white papers and content about ways they can stay competitive in their industries – written by experts in their fields.
BusinessInterviews.com: Are there any specific issues that non-profits need to consider or keep in mind when it comes to business banking?
Hal: If you are a nonprofit, does your bank treat you like a business? That is critical, for that is what they are: a business. Unfortunately, many people – and many banks – believe nonprofits are solely mission focused and not concerned about their bottom line. As a bank who does business with more than a thousand nonprofits, we know that perception is simply not the case. After all, without resources there is no mission.
Of course nonprofits should always keep in mind the relationship you have with your banker. Do you know your banker? Do you regularly discuss how you are performing? Do you share your thoughts about new programs and funding sources? Can you clearly articulate not only your mission, but your business model? If not, ask your banker to help for this is where a knowledgeable banker familiar with nonprofits can be very beneficial.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired the launch of your, “Giving with Heart” program and can you expand on how it impacts the culture of the company and the surrounding community?
Hal: The inspiration for our “Giving with Heart” program came from the same place as all of our really good ideas: our employees. A few employees a long time ago wanted to formalize what they and their peers were already doing and so an idea and a program were born. Our “Giving with Heart” program provides our employees with 40 hours per year of paid volunteer time. While this helps community organizations, it also encourages our employees to be engaged and to become better citizens. After all, at the end of the day, it’s our people that make us “The Right Bank.” If we are succeeding at creating an inclusive and positive workplace with passionate and professional employees, then business success will surely continue to follow.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you tell us a bit about your new employee orientation and the decision behind using “It’s a Wonderful Life” as part of the induction process?
Hal: That is the brainchild of one of our longest tenured bankers, Dean Hansen. He incorporated the film into our new employee orientation years ago as a way to illustrate the positive ways the right bank and the right banker can have on a community. Dean and I agree that “It’s a Wonderful Life” just happens to be set during the holidays, but it is not necessarily a holiday movie. It’s a movie about ethics. It’s a movie about the right – and wrong – ways to operate a bank. It’s about how a bank, run on the principles of integrity, relationships and trust, can positively transform a community. We show it to all of our new employees because the Jimmy Stewart character, George Bailey, is an ideal all bankers should strive to become.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share a recent example of how you’re leveraging technology to encourage growth of the business?
Hal: Technology is not the be-all end-all. It is only one important tool in a chest of tools. Technology should never be a substitute for personal relationships. However, to the extent it helps our clients be more efficient we offer technology solutions. Over the last decade we’ve introduced many helpful technology innovations including remote deposit, secure funds transfers, online bill payment and mobile banking.
Technology also helps us efficiently manage all the daily data and can further deepen our client relationships. An example is a very in-depth and functional customer relationship management (CRM) tool that is really helping us better utilize data to build even better relationships. With our CRM system, every banker has instant access to a vast amount of usable information, such as client feedback data and how or when others within the bank are working with a client, that can help them do an ever better job of providing outstanding service. This shared resource not only allows a client’s personal banker access to critical data, it allows our banking teams to instantly share ideas and best practices for the betterment of all client relationships.
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