A Conversation With John J. Patrick Jr.
John J. Patrick Jr. is president and CEO of Banknorth Connecticut, New Britain. He has been in the banking industry for more than 25 years. He joined Glastonbury Bank & Trust Co. in 1994, where he served as senior loan officer and then as president, and was instrumental in the January 2002 bank’s name change to Banknorth Connecticut. Under Patrick’s leadership, Banknorth Connecticut has grown from the 17th-largest bank in the state to the sixth-largest.
He has contributed to his community in a wide range of activities including: director of the Greater Hartford Visitors and Convention Bureau, director of The Corporation for Independent Living, director for Science Center of Connecticut, director of New Britain General Hospital, president of the Boy Scouts of America – Connecticut Rivers Council, director of the United Way of the Capital Region, director of Community Mental Health Affiliates, director CCSU Foundation Inc., overseer of The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, corporator for New Britain YMCA, trustee for the New Britain YWCA, trustee for the Sea Research Foundation Inc., member of the Commissioners Citizens Advisory Board for the Connecticut Department of Public Safety, honorary chairman of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Auxiliary’s Storybook Auction, and honorary chairman for Klingberg Family Centers Capital Campaign. Patrick is a 2002 recipient of a Corporate Achievement Award from the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
His professional activities include serving as trustee for the New England College of Finance and director of Vantis Life Insurance Co., and he was recently elected to the Executive Committee of the Connecticut Bankers Association.
Q: Tell us about your banking career.
A: My banking career began in 1979 at Connecticut Bank & Trust as a part-time lock box clerk (2nd shift) while I was attending college. From there I held various positions in the consumer collections area at the bank. I have worked in all areas of banking; however, I have spent most of my career working in commercial lending and commercial loan work-out in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I joined the predecessor to Banknorth, Glastonbury Bank & Trust, in 1994 and became president in 1999 after completion of the Banknorth acquisition.
Q: You serve on numerous civic boards; how do you find the time?
A: If you trace the origins of obtaining a bank charter, one of the primary reasons is to serve the community. It is incumbent upon me to be active in a community that has given so much to me both personally and professionally. We ask our employees to work in the community and it is important for me to lead by example. As it relates to finding the time, the days of “bankers’ hours” have been over for years, and I am sure if you speak with the other CEOs, this job is close to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Q: Banknorth Connecticut was built via the acquisition of four Connecticut banks. How have the customers of those institutions reacted to changes made over the past four years?
A: Our customers and employees have been very supportive throughout the acquisitions. Most of the customers have been happy with the changes, as the primary changes have been to add products and services that were not provided by the financial institution we acquired. 2004 was our first full year after the American Savings Bank acquisition and we had significant organic loan and deposit growth, and customer retention was significantly above industry and peer group standards.
Q: Banknorth Connecticut’s footprint is mostly in “central Connecticut.” Are there any expansion plans?
A: As you are aware, we have grown our company through acquisition over the last several years; Bill Ryan, our chairman, has said that we will continue to grow our company, and with a focus on continued growth in Connecticut and Massachusetts. We are currently under construction with the first of three de novo offices in the New Haven area. The first office that will open in the first quarter will be our fourth regional headquarters in Connecticut and will be the Connecticut headquarters for our Wealth Management Group.
Q: TD Bank Financial Group acquired 51 percent of your parent Banknorth Group Inc. in August 2004. What changes lay ahead?
A: The transaction with Toronto Dominion is scheduled to close on March 1, 2005, pending shareholder approval. When TD chose a banking partner in the United States, they were looking for an institution with a strong management team that has a track record of strong performance and growth. The key to the transaction from TD’s point of view is that they provide Banknorth with the support and capital to grow the company in the United States. We will continue to run the company as we have in the past, with the state presidents responsible for all major decisions affecting their customers and community, local decision-making and superior local service. The only change the customer will see is the local name change to TD Banknorth Connecticut. Over time, we will hope to possibly offer some of the products that TD has and we do not currently offer, such as credit cards and online brokerage, through TD Waterhouse.
Q: Large commercial banks like Banknorth rely heavily on maximizing fee income and maintaining operating efficiencies. Care to comment on how Banknorth Connecticut meets these objectives?
A: Banknorth has one of the best efficiency ratios of any bank within our peer group, and demonstrated the consistent ability to hold expenses at five percent or less on an annual basis. Therefore, our emphasis is to grow our fee-based business to a higher percentage of overall income. With our growth in new markets like Connecticut, we have been consistently growing the fee business, such as insurance, merchant processing, wealth management and investment planning through cross-sales to existing and new customers.
Q: What will be the most pressing challenges for Banknorth Connecticut over the next three years?
A: The most pressing challenge for Banknorth over the next several years will be to continue to maintain our local community bank focus especially in the new markets where we are not currently operating. While I believe this may be somewhat of a challenge, management and employees are focused on the fundamentals of our core business and delivering above-and-beyond service to all our customers. Local decision-making is a key focus of our overall strategic plan and one of the key factors that will differentiate us from the competition.
Questions posed by Lindsey R. Pinkham, senior vice president and secretary of the Connecticut Bankers Association.