We talked to Market President Jeff Hubbard at KeyBank to get a handle on how Connecticut’s economy is doing and how the bank competes in a competitive market.
Hubbard is President and Commercial Sales Leader for KeyBank’s Connecticut and Western Massachusetts market. He leads the bank’s regional economic and community development efforts, and oversees the sales effort for delivering the lending and financial services offered to commercial clients.
Hubbard has been a long- term Connecticut banker. Prior to the acquisition of First Niagara Bank by KeyBank in 2016, Hubbard served as New England Regional President for First Niagara. He has had executive positions at TD Bank, Bank of America, Webster, Fleet and Merrill Lynch in Connecticut.
What are the areas of strength for KeyBank in Connecticut?
It’s a combination of bringing financial wellness to everybody, in addition to being very strong in business banking and middle market banking. We’re a very big capital markets player. Those few things differentiate us. The ability to do a syndicated deal is strong here. Financial wellness is a big one for us.
Much of the banking in Connecticut is dominated by local – or large regional banks headquartered here, how does KeyBank fit in?
It’s an interesting [competitive] field. You have what we call the Trillion Aires, Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo. TD [Bank] and Key are relatively the same size. But Connecticut is a local banking environment, with Peoples and Webster. There is lots of competition out there.
How do you position in the middle of that?
We’re very much right in the middle. How do you separate yourself? You do it with technology convenience, service and products. I think everybody provides really good service. We have something called “Hello Wallet.” It’s a venture where we focus on individual financial wellness. Nobody else does this in Connecticut, and its important to us that we can go to our customers and large employers and engage their employees in something called Hello Wallet, it's a lot of tools that are going to help individuals manage their money better. You want to get a car loan some day, it's going to help you get that loan approved. We think that happy employees that are not worried about their financial futures, people that have an organized financial future are happier and more productive at work.
How do you see the Connecticut economy, through the eyes of your customers?
It is good, it is tricky, we’re seeing some industries doing extroadinarily well. Connecticut has always been strong in aerospace, precision tool manufacturing. One of the biggest challenges we have in the business landscape is confidence. Our ability and willingness to invest for things that might grow next year and the year after. Connecticut is a great place to live and work, and not unlike a lot of New England states its has challenges, but it is certainly a strong market for us.
How does Connecticut compare to other KeyBank markets?
I look around our foot print, there are a lot of similar markets. You think of Albany, a very good market for us. First Niagara was big in Albany, KeyBank was big, so we have a very dominant share. Those customers have the same needs and challenges that Connecticut has.
How has KeyBank’s larger size benefited Connecticut customers versus First Niagara?
A lot is new products and services that weren’t available. First Niagara was a wonderful organization, but the technology spend at a place like KeyBank is substantially different.
Do you see changes over the past few years as to how companies are doing?
When I look at deposits, I can see the growth in our numbers. The FDIC numbers only come out once a year, in June. We’re up to just about 3.25% of market share.
You mentioned technology, and online resources like Hello Wallet, what about branches where do they fit in today?
They are still a very important role that the local branch plays, information. You want to close a mortgage, there is a number of reasons that you are still going to want that bricks and mortar. The reality is the next generation of banking customers is more adept to digital. With two thirds of the transactions now done digitally, that is a little less traffic in the branches.
I remember many years ago New Haven Savings Bank, one of the predecessors to KeyBank in the market was first or second in mortgages in the New Haven market. Now that there are so many new mortgage players online etc. where do they fit in for a Keybank?
You certainly see a lot of advertising, nobody needs to go into the branch to get a mortgage, they can just do it online, the reality is somewhat different. People heavily rely on the branch, they have a relationship with the branch manager who knows them. We are very committed to the mortgage business, we have added a number of new folks over the past year to beef up the business. We think the mortgage business continues to be strong. In most cases it’s the most important financial transaction you’re going to do in your life, people like the high touch, it continues to be a hot spot for us.
How does the market divide up between business facing and consumer facing.
Our branches are commercial providers as well and small business loans an be done through the branch. You can bump up beyond that, loans that are for companies with less thean ten million in revenue. That group would handle the majority of our SBA transactions, above that is our middle market, we have middle market officers throughout the state. Beyond that we get into our corporate bank, investment bank, capital markets transaction. One of the strengths is the ability to handle all those customers, in Connecticut there is a good mix. We have some very small retail oriented customers, we do have a handful of several hundred million dollar customers. Keybank is $132 billion in assets do we can play in the big time group, and the small businessperson and the individual consumer is very important to us.
How does the consumer and business customer interface with KeyBank?
If you have a company in New Haven, and you have 20 to fifty employees, and we come in to deliver financial wellness to that group, I think that really separates us. How do you acess your credit report, what are the factors that fo into it. Education is what you need when you are looking at buying a house, buying car setting up a 529 [A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged investment vehicle encourage saving for higher education expenses]. We look at the [employees] as an attractive market and one we can make a great difference in.
Every state in New England is an expensive state to live and you have to have your best financial hat on at all times.
How many employees does KeyBank have in Connecticut?
About 650, most are in our branch network. In New Haven we have about 100 at 195 Church. It’s been recently renovated, we have our mortgage processing and private banking, middle market and commercial banking. A significant number right downtown.
As a big bank, many of your competitors are pitching local decision making, how does the loan process work at KeyBank?
Credit decisions are centrally located in Cleveland. The advantage we have is you get very quick turnaround because we have an experience person here in New Haven, Hartford, Manchester, the relationship officer your talking to is extremely well trained. They have a very good sense of the likelihood of approval for the loan. Turnaround around time that has been an issue for many big banks, history would tell us that has not been an issue for KeyBank. I think it speaks to the quality of the person in the field, they know what thery’re talking about they can guide that customer pretty quickly.