Banking / Financial

Valley Bank Rebrands and Reworks

Wayne-based Valley Bank has been undergoing substantial organizational changes, with its long-time iconic president and CEO Gerald H. Lipkin having retired toward the end of 2017 following a 42-year career at the financial institution. He was then immediately succeeded by the new president and CEO, Ira Robbins. Also, last fall, the bank re-branded from “Valley National Bank” to “Valley Bank.”  Additionally, about a week ago, the bank announced it had appointed a new senior vice president and chief financial officer, Michael D. Hagedorn.

Michael D. Hagedorn

Hagedorn most recently served as president and CEO of Kansas City-based UMB Bank and vice chairman of UMB Financial Corporation, and prior to that he served as chief financial officer for UMB Financial Corporation.

Robbins tells NEW JERSEY BUSINESS, “[Mike] understands how to be a mid-sized regional bank executive, which is an important trait. He also understands that the role of the CFO is not just to prepare financial statements, but to actually be a partner in driving the future of business decisions within the organization, and [its] strategic direction. We were fortunate enough to be able to get Mike to actually relocate from Kansas City, Missouri, all the way here to New Jersey.”

It can be argued that historically, CFO positions in the business world were more accounting focused, whereas today, CFOs’ responsibilities across organizations are increasingly focused on corporate and other strategies, for example.

Valley’s Rebranding

Valley Bank’s aforementioned “rebranding” was especially in the headlines last fall, with its new logo, changes to its website and mobile platforms, as well new signage and associated elements at its branches. Robbins reiterates, “[The rebrand] is supposed to mean a uniform way forward, for us. From a values perspective, [Valley’s] relevancy today may be similar [to what it was in the past], but how we connect with our customers needs to be much more technology focused. How we think about engaging our employees to make sure we are providing tremendous service today may be a little bit different than what it was three, four, or five years ago.”

Oritani Acquisition

Valley Bank has also been in the acquisition mode, announcing at the end of June that it is slated to merge with the 26-branch Oritani Financial Corp, which has a presence in Bergen and Hudson counties, approximately $4.1 billion in assets, $3.5 billion in loans and $2.9 billion in deposits. Robbins says, “We are taking over 80,000 customers within the New Jersey footprint as a result of this transaction. We think it is a good opportunity to leverage the franchise we have, and, once again, provide a differentiated, compelling experience for customers in the New Jersey marketplace.”

The banking sphere is constantly centered on economies of scale/size, in part due to increased banking compliance costs and other concerns. With Valley Bank focused on its communities, Robbins notes that, additionally, “One of the challenges, as consolidation increases, and – honestly – as many customers migrate to the larger mega center banks, is you are left without a local, community bank that can provide services and lending to small business customers … It is a real challenge, today, to be able to find an organization that is committed to and understands the community … and then is able to lend [money] into that.”

A Changing Banking World

All the changes at Valley Bank are against the backdrop of evolutions not only in the financial world, but in the extended world of business. Robbins concludes, “I think [Mike Hagedorn] and I both believe that the status quo is not necessarily what the future quo is going to end up looking like, which is an important distinction. Once again, I think customers today don’t define a bank experience based on how their previous bank experience was; they define a bank experience [the same way] their experience is with Amazon, [for example]. And we need to be forward thinking about how we connect with our customers, in an Amazon type of experience, as opposed to a traditional bank experience.”

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