After a recent merger expanded the products, services and footprint of the bank, it has stayed true to the culture that has driven its growth so far.
When Cadence Bancorporation (NYSE: CADE) Chairman and CEO Paul Murphy is out meeting with customers — something he does regularly — he does something ordinary in a surprising way.
He hands out his business card. But the phone number on Murphy's card doesn't go to one of the bank's customer service reps, or even an assistant. "As an owner and operator of the bank, my cell phone is on my business card. Everyone knows that if they need me, they can call me," Murphy says. "That is standard procedure for our bankers — they wake up thinking about ways to grow the bank and do a good job for customers. And it's often the last thing we think about at night. That intensity is noticeable."
That kind of personal commitment is one thing that Murphy believes gives his regional bank a leg up over larger national banks. "If we have a business customer call and say, ‘I've just made the first international sale of my life and I'm told I need a letter of credit, but I don't know what that is,'" Murphy says, "we would go there in person to begin the process of providing them with a letter of credit."
Murphy credits Cadence's growth over the past decade (including its April 2017 IPO) to that approach. The bank's latest growth milestone came in early 2019, with its acquisition of Atlanta-based State Bank Financial Corp. For that deal, Murphy and his colleagues at Cadence took years getting to know State Bank, particularly its culture.
"If you're going to have a successful merger, it has to be a culture fit," he says. "What we think is critically important are customer service and doing a great job for clients, being a terrific place to work and having the same fundamentals around credit."
There is the perception that there’s an inverse relationship between the size of the bank and the quality of the customer relationship,” says. We are going to stay focused on doing a good job for customers. That is always our mantra.Cadence Chairman and CEO Paul Murphy
In addition to culture, Murphy says Cadence pursued the merger to give its customers more choices. State Bank added to Cadence's products and services by bringing along Small Business Administration lending, a homebuilder finance operation, and other new features and capabilities. "The bottom line is we are able to offer a lot more to clients than we did before," Murphy says.
The acquisition also expanded Cadence's customer base to more than 103,000 consumer households and nearly 27,000 business clients as of March 31, 2019, according to Murphy. Today, Cadence has roughly 100 branches stretching from Texas to Florida. But the story of Cadence in the past year isn't all about the numbers, Murphy insists. Rather, it's a story of what he calls "meaningful growth."
"There are a lot of things you can do to get big faster. But what we want to do is build a quality business and have quality, experienced bankers join us and attract good quality companies with solid track records and people," he says. "We want companies that are looking for a long-term relationship with a bank, not just those looking for a loan and you never see them again."
Though the combined operations make Cadence a leading regional bank, Murphy says it will remain focused on doing the little things that go into serving customers and driving meaningful growth.
"There is the perception that there's an inverse relationship between the size of the bank and the quality of the customer relationship," he says. "We are going to stay focused on doing a good job for customers. That is always our mantra. If you do a good job for customers, they'll tell their friends and you'll do more business. And if you manage your expenses prudently, you can continue to grow your company. That has been our track record."