Peter Judkins was named president and chief executive officer of Franklin Savings Bank upon the retirement of Gary Downs. He had been executive vice president of the bank for the last six years, returning to Maine in 1999 after serving in vice president positions regionally with both American Express and Citicorp.
Q: What is the greatest challenge facing a new CEO?
A: The greatest challenge for a new CEO, especially a new CEO in an organization like Franklin Savings Bank, that has been led by a CEO who is liked and respected by employees, is to gain the confidence and the respect of the employees. Gary Downs is a tough act to follow. It is very important to have everyone moving in the same direction toward a common goal, and I have tried to keep our focus on that goal.
Q: What has been easier than you expected?
A: The transition to the CEO position has been less dramatic than expected. Other than not having Gary Downs available for daily conversation, I have seen very little change. Gary did a great job of stepping aside over the past year, allowing me and my management team to step up and handle most of the day-to-day management responsibilities of the bank.
Q: Has anything been more difficult?
A: The added responsibility of being the final stop in the decision process has probably been the most difficult aspect of the position.
Q: What are the idiosyncrasies of doing business in your market area?
A: We are in a market that is realizing very little growth, with relatively high unemployment. As a result, most of our opportunity for new loan or deposit business is at the expense of one of our competitors.
Q: What past experience best prepared you for this job?
A: Leading a sales team has probably had the greatest impact on who I am and how I manage the bank and the people who work for us.
Q: What past jobs or experiences not related to banking have helped shape your views?
A: Most of my career has been spent outside of the bank in sales and sales management positions. These sales roles have strengthened my interpersonal skills, while giving me a true appreciation for differences in people. I generally see the good in everyone and approach each day with a positive attitude. I truly believe that the success of our business is driven by the relationships that our employees have with our customers. If our employees are treated with respect and with a positive attitude, they will treat other employees and our customers the same way.
Q: What advice would you give those aspiring to senior management?
A: Make the most of every day. Don’t wait to be asked to do something, rather take the initiative to see and do what needs to be done. Treat others the way you would like to be treated and always approach the day and the people that you encounter with a positive attitude. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.
Q: What are banking’s greatest challenges today?
A: There are several challenges that occupy my thoughts. Currently, I am concerned about future funding for loan growth. For several years, loan growth has exceeded our ability to attract new deposits. Over this period, we have been able to fund loan growth by liquidating our bond portfolio; however, as this option becomes unavailable, we are in a position where we will have to borrow at rates that will have a negative impact on our net interest margin, and thus our profitability. We are competing in a changing environment, where consumers have choices beyond the other banks down the street. Other challenges are to stay ahead of regulatory and technology requirements.
Q: What publications do you read regularly?
A: The American Banker and the Wall Street Journal.
Q: What Web sites do you visit regularly?
Q: What books have you read recently?
A: “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy, “Skinny Dip” by Carl Hiaasen, “Tuesdays With Morrie” and “Five People You Will Meet in Heaven “ by Mitch Albom.
Q: What else might be of interest?
A: I am concerned about economic development in Western Maine and the state as a whole. We need to do a better job creating opportunities for the next generation. I’m very interested in my kids and what they are up to, whether it is Heidi and field hockey or Tyler and skiing.