Retaining customers, priority talents for Huntington executives after TCF merger

Tthe $ 22 billion merger with TCF Financial Corp. brought new leadership to Huntington Bancshares Inc. in West Michigan, which focuses on retaining talent and customers while executing a massive corporate commitment to small businesses and underserved markets.

Krista Flynn will work alongside John Irwin as Huntington’s regional chairman until the end of 2021, when Irwin will retire after more than four decades in banking, nine of which as a banking leader in western Michigan.

Krista Flynn and John Irwin

As they prepare for the leadership transition and TCF’s conversion to Huntington this fall, both Flynn and Irwin say retaining clients and talent is their top priority. The loss of both is a natural consequence of any merger, and the two veteran banking executives hope to downplay the potential fallout from the TCF-Huntington union in the months to come.

Flynn and Irwin specifically contacted TCF staff who joined Huntington.

“We don’t want to lose good colleagues, we don’t want to lose good customers,” Irwin said.

Since the announcement of the TCF-Huntington merger last December, competitors have raised the potential to attract customers and talent. Some market movements have already happened with commercial and mortgage lenders turning to other banks.

The attention of the bank’s executives is focused on connecting with TCF clients and “making sure they understand that we will take care of them and that their services will only improve, and we will continue to provide them with better care. provide the best possible service throughout the transition, ”said Flynn.

“Employer of choice”

Employee retention is “just behind” customer retention, said Flynn, who was regional chairman of TCF Bank and joined Huntington in the acquisition which closed on June 9.

“Any sort of combination has a bit of that. You just have to put your arms around the people and make sure that they feel valued and that they add value to the new organization, and that they fit in culturally, ”said Flynn, citing Cultures. corporate at TCF and Huntington which are “very similar.” “

A seasoned commercial banker, Flynn previously served as regional chairman of TCF and the former Chemical Bank.

Its goal is for “Huntington to be the employer of choice”. Part of retaining key staff is pointing out that they now have “significantly better products and services” to offer customers than a small bank can provide, she said.

Huntington also created a “buddy system” that connects TCF staff with a Huntington counterpart to mentor them through the transition and “help new hires understand internal systems and processes.”

“We are making great strides in really making an effort to make people feel comfortable and welcome and culture to be understood by everyone in a creative way,” said Flynn.

Competitors are recruiting

The movement of talent within a market and the need to actively work to retain staff are natural phenomena following bank mergers.

The TCF-Huntington merger was no different, especially given the number of office closures and branch consolidations planned, said Hunter Judson Sr., president and CEO of the research and consulting firm. in Human Resources based in Grand Rapids. Judson LLC Group.

Since “the team with the best talent wins the most every time”, the acquiring banks “always strive to keep the best, but it is very difficult and almost always there is a considerable loss of talent. “said Judson.

“Most of the competing banks have recruited and hired a number of TCF lenders and support staff – commercial and mortgage. When the merger was announced, they developed top talent rosters and started recruiting efforts and conversations, ”said Judson. “Because the bank is a relatively small network, the bank executives knew who they wanted to hire. Most of Huntington’s competitors have benefited from the opportunity to hire additional skilled talent.

A “major force” in the banking sector

Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington’s acquisition of Detroit-based TCF created Michigan’s largest operating bank with $ 170.8 billion in assets and deposits of $ 138 billion. dollars on its imprint. Huntington (Nasdaq: HBAN) bases its commercial banking operations at headquarters in Detroit, while personal banking is headquartered in Columbus.

Overall, Huntington Bank now has $ 175 billion in assets with more than 1,100 offices in 12 states.

The integration of the two banks and the renaming of the TCF offices in Huntington will take place the second weekend of October.

In western Michigan, Huntington became the second largest bank in the Grand Rapids area with $ 6.7 billion in deposits and a 20.7% market share. Fifth Third Bank is the largest bank in the market in the Grand Rapids area. Huntington became the third-largest bank in the Kalamazoo region with 12% of the deposit market, or $ 646 million, according to a Federal Reserve analysis of the merger.

“We’re going to be a major force in western Michigan with our combined entity,” Irwin said. “We have a great branch distribution system and great colleagues who have joined Huntington. “

Huntington will still have one of the largest branch networks in the state, even with the planned closure of 198 branches primarily in Michigan, including all of Huntington’s 97 branches in Meijer Inc. stores. As part of obtaining regulatory approval for the acquisition, Huntington plans to sell 14 branches in the center of the Lower Peninsula to Horizon Bank.

Local support for small businesses

Executives from both banks said the merger would allow more investment in technology and products and services for clients large and small, although local execution and delivery remains vital, Flynn said.

“Size and investment is a big plus so that we can get better products and services, but that doesn’t matter to our customers from a ‘big’ point of view. They will ignore it. They’re going to say, ‘What does this mean to me?’ “, did she say. “I’ll tell you it’s local delivery and (have) your team intact, and your team is going to serve (the customers) appropriately.”

While TCF and Huntington spent the first half of 2021 working on the merger, Irwin decided to retire at the end of the year. He has served as Huntington’s regional president since January 2013 and previously worked for almost 11 years as a corporate bank manager for West Michigan.

“The timing was just perfect,” Irwin said. “The merger with TCF was the perfect opportunity for me to be able to step down and allow Krista to take over. “

A week after the acquisition closed on June 9, Huntington announced a $ 40 billion corporate commitment to support small businesses as well as minority and underserved markets.

The bank’s community plan focuses on four pillars: small business loans; racial and social equity; home and consumer loans; and community development loans. The bank is looking to deploy capital through partnerships with community organizations, Irwin said.

“We are doubling down on our interest in making a difference in all the communities in which we operate,” said Irwin. “I hope we are a catalyst for positive change here in Western Michigan and that other organizations will join us. It will take all of us to make a huge difference in these communities.

Of the $ 40 billion five-year commitment in the 12 Huntington states, $ 11 billion was dedicated specifically to Michigan, said Flynn, whose region is one of the state’s five markets. Its market stretches west of Ionia and south of Big Rapids on the Michigan-Indiana border.

To deploy the capital, Huntington intends to partner directly with local organizations that are already working on the same issues at the local level. The bank will “listen first” and “see what it needs,” Flynn said. Building partnerships can help overcome “trust issues” in minority and underserved communities and neighborhoods and “reach the people we really want to reach,” said Flynn.

“I don’t want to have flair and just say a big number and then not really be able to show what we did specifically. I want an inventory, ‘This is where we made an impact,’ ”said Flynn. “It really has to be an ongoing relationship that they feel comfortable trusting and having the conversation with us.

“It’s a long game. None of the problems will be solved in two years.

About Virginia Ahn

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