CLEAR STRATEGY PAYS OFF IN TOUGH TIMES
Robert A. DeAlmeida
President and CEO
Hamilton Bank provides loans and cash management services to the business community. While the last few years have been topsy-turvy for the banking industry, Hamilton has managed to achieve impressive growth.
The bank’s president and CEO, Robert DeAlmeida, joined the company as CFO in 1990 and has since transformed the organization. At the time, the bank had two locations and less than 25 employees. Today, Hamilton Bank operates five Maryland locations from its headquarters in Towson, and its staff has more than doubled.
DeAlmeida’s efforts fueled growth for Hamilton Bank at a time when other banks were struggling. He quickly became vice president and treasurer in 1990, and he earned the position of bank president in July 2005. DeAlmeida and his team have expanded the bank’s services to meet the complete banking needs of small businesses, retailers, consumers and homeowners across Greater Baltimore.
Q: How has Hamilton managed to achieve growth during a difficult period for the banking industry?
A: In reality, the economy did impact Hamilton Bank as we did shrink in assets and reduced a number of unprofitable services we offered. Last fiscal year, loan demand weakened and competition increased for the few opportunities available for lending. In the previous fiscal year, we put our focus on hiring talent and on growing the types of products and services that would help us increase market share. During this time, our management team focused on strategic planning and identified opportunities where we would place our resources. The focus on business lending is where Hamilton Bank felt the greatest success could be achieved.
Q: As you increased the number of employees, what have you learned as a leader?
A: Hamilton Bank took a strategic approach to figure out what steps were needed to grow the bank. We felt that if we were to be relevant, have growth and be profitable, we needed the talent to help us realize that goal. I was able to bring in a strong proven lending team to help us accomplish that task. I felt it was worth the risk to invest in the right individuals to help Hamilton Bank continue its journey as we head for the next 100 years.
What I learned was to engage my senior management, all the employees, along with the Board of Directors, and make our strategic plan everyone’s plan. The result is a driven team, enthusiastically working hard to make the bank a success.
Q: What services do you provide for small to mid-size businesses?
A: A number of small businesses are looking for a bank that works with them for their cash management needs. Cash management is more than just a checking account; it is wire services, merchant services, electronic payments (ACH) and earning interest on excess cash. In addition, we provide the right financing; whether it is for the purchase of a building, inventory management, operations expenses or accounts receivable.
Q: What are some of the biggest issues business owners face with cash flow management?
A: A positive cash flow is essential to keeping your business afloat. One of the problems banks see is failure to monitor financial statements until it is too late. By keeping your bank informed and treating the bank as a partner, we can help with solutions such as seeking a CPA firm for more up-to-date financial statements, collection firms to handle slow paying customers and offering you a temporary restructure of your loan payments until you are back to a positive cash flow. I cannot stress this enough as it is important to keep your bank advised of your financial situation so your bank can offer solutions and not seek to call your loan. Banks want to see each business be successful and considering us a partner is one way to ensure that trust.
Q: How can business owners leverage their relationships with their bankers?
We look to be a partner with each customer. When an owner is looking to expand their business, buy a building or merge with another company, we can offer the financial advice needed to help with the decision-making. Plus, we can offer suggestions as to the financing of the deal.
Our goal is to provide you with the right advice to make your business successful. We value our relationships with our customers and always make ourselves available to communicate. Each loan officer and I provide our personal cell phone numbers to the owner.
Hamilton Bank is based on relationship services; our decisions are made locally, and our officers make themselves available to meet the customer at convenient times. When choosing a bank, a customer needs to ask: “Is the bank there when times are difficult; will they offer me the best advice; are they giving me the best value with services and products; do they return my phone calls?” Hamilton offers competitive rates and seeks to understand your business to only offer you the products and services that fit your business needs.