Former Albany Banker Mike Marz Finds New Opportunity as Columbus City President for Regions Bank
Friday, May 9th, 2014
Banks have changed the way they do business and many of their best clients aren't happy about it, according to Regions Bank City President Mike Marz. That creates opportunity for Regions, a relatively small player in the Columbus market.
"Back in the day, a business owner could sit down with his banker in a local office and get a decision on a loan on the spot," Marz said.
"Now because of the economy and new regulations that call for banks to be more consistent in executing their policies across markets, most underwriting decisions are centralized. Clients have to provide more information – tax returns, financial statements – than they ever have, even if they've been a bank client for 30 years."
Every bank is going through this change and their best clients are understandably irritated by the inconvenience. According to Marz, that creates an opportunity for Regions to take share from larger banks that have the most existing clients.
"We can start a relationship fresh, with a complete list of information we need, and most clients find that more acceptable. We've been able to win some business this way," Marz said.
"So far in 2014, we've seen slow, steady improvement. Using a baseball analogy, we've had a lot of good base hits, good Bobby Cox baseball."
Regions Bank is a full-service institution with a full range of financial products and services in the areas of wealth management, mortgage banking and insurance, in addition to traditional banking products and services. The bank operates in approximately 1,700 offices across a 16-state geographic footprint and ranks #1 or #2 in nearly half the markets it serves. In Columbus, Regions has less than 5 percent market share, well behind Synovus Bank, the local market leader.
A 360° approach
When approaching any bank client, Marz takes a 360° approach that looks beyond loans and deposits to offer advice and counsel. He believes this approach can differentiate Regions from its competitors.
"I try to see where we can bring value to every client. I've been in the business 35 years and have banked many other companies. I use that expertise to talk with clients about cash management, investment management, fraud and other areas of concern," Marz said.
"When I talk with a business owner, we may talk about estate planning or a car loan for a child in addition to talking about business needs. We want to understand all their banking needs."
Fraud is one area that is of increasing concern to business owners and banks due to the relatively large losses involved. According to Marz, banks have huge departments dedicated to finding ways to help clients detect and prevent fraud.
"At the end of the day the best way to prevent fraud is to know who you are doing business with," Marz said.
"I also tell clients to minimize check writing and do more transactions electronically. The quality of photocopying is so good that copied checks can pass as an original."
Positive Pay, a tool to reduce check fraud, has been around awhile, according to Marz, but is getting more popular given the increased risk of fraud. Clients submit an electronic file of checks they have written to their bank. The bank then compares the checks coming in for payment against the list and calls the customer with any discrepancies. Positive Pay has deterred millions of dollars in fraudulent transactions, according to Marz.
What a difference a day makes
While most banks support their communities, Regions takes a unique approach. Called "What a Difference a Day Makes," the program enables employees to take a day off with pay to volunteer for an approved community-related activity of their choice.
"So if I want to spend a day volunteering with my church and helping my daughter's Girl Scout troop, the bank encourages you do that," Marz said.
"I'm on the United Way allocation committee and I think I spent 20 to 25 hours recently reading proposals, making agency visits and in meetings. Regions is sending a strong message to its 23,000 employees that it wants us to give back to the community and it is paying us to do it."