Back in the 1920s, my grandfather was a head cashier of a bank in Illinois. When I first heard this, I thought, "Oh, head cashier - no big deal." But then I learned that back then, this position was the same as the President of a bank today. My father worked for him as a cashier. So as I grew up, I was very aware of banking as my father, as a bank customer, would take me to the bank (the depression took him out of banking). He focused on one thing in every visit - the people. He would always say, "A bank will not survive without great people working in the bank." So when I saw an article titled, In a Shrinking Market, GrandSouth Bank Sticks to its Strengths, my interest was roused - "What are its strengths?".
The article is about J.B. Schwiers, the President and CEO of the Greenville-based GrandSouth Bank. Mr. Schwiers speaks about the consolidation going on in the banking business today. He states, "I think I have my statistics correct here," Schwiers says, "but in 1990 there were 118 banks headquartered in South Carolina. If you fast-forward to 2020, there are 46, and two of the 46, CresCom out of Charleston and South State out of Columbia, has recently announced that there are merging with other banks. So that list of 46 is going to shrink to 44."
When I saw this information about consolidation, all I could think about is all of the people whom I hear complain about poor banking services due to consolidation and the age of "big banking." However, then the article goes on to say, "But in a climate of consolidation, GrandSouth has bucked the trend, ending the fourth quarter of 2019 with a 28.06% increase in net income over 2018, according to Yahoo! Finance."
So now, my big question was, "How did GrandSouth buck this trend?" To this, Mr. Schwiers answers, "…the bank's success comes from a combination of factors, most notably a well-considered expansion strategy that focuses on people, not places." He goes on, "Obviously, there are a lot of great markets in our state that you would want to be in, but what drives our decisions is where we can find the right banking talent. This business is all about relationships, and the banks who are the most successful at recruiting, hiring, retaining, training, and motivating top talent are the ones that are going be the most successful. Those are the ones that will have high growth rates."
It is wonderful to see business leaders who understand that great people make business great, which increases business value.