CFO Corner: Gerard Perri, Profitable Despite Bank’s Environment
What was the biggest challenge your organization faced over the last 12 months, and how were you able to overcome it with financial leadership? As a newly established bank (November 2008), our challenge has been to become profitable in as short a period of time as possible. A typical de novo bank can take up to 36 months to get to this point. Herald National Bank became profitable by the quarter ended September 30, 2010 despite the trying economic and regulatory environment during that period. We’ve maintained that profitability by working with each department within the bank to improve cost efficiency without impeding the sales of our banking products by our banking teams.
What is the most important thing you have learned in your position? The most important thing that I have learned in my position as CFO is to build a quality organization of people around me who I trust to handle the day to day issues that affect the financial analysis, treasury, and accounting functions. We are in constant communication with each other to ensure that our colleagues’ needs are fully supported and that problems are handled quickly and efficiently. My staff knows what their authorities are and when to get me involved in issues. And people in the organization know that my staff speaks for me when interactions occur.
How do you prepare for board meetings and what information is most important for you to present? We have monthly board meetings, so we prepare a full financial package for each of those meetings. We make sure we “close the books” quickly, prepare our financials, and identify variances to actual and budgeted numbers for inclusion with the narrative that accompanies our financials. We go through each of the reports prior to the board meeting to make sure I am prepared with answers for any questions that may be raised by the bank’s Directors. In addition to reviewing the actual results, I believe it is important to discuss trends and notify the Directors of any pitfalls as soon as they have been identified.
What advice do you have for other CFOs? Stay on top of your game and aware of the hottest topics either through periodicals or speaking to peers and belonging to relevant professional organizations.
What has made your organization stand out and be successful financially? In a highly competitive banking environment, Herald National Bank provides state of the art banking products supported by bankers who provide exemplary customer service. Our clientele, who are primarily businesses and the people who work at those businesses, can reach out to their bankers 24 / 7. And our bankers can reach out for support, including from executive management, on the same time frame.
Gerard Perri has over 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry dating back to 1975. His experience covers public and private banks and S&L’s in the metropolitan area as well as stints in related industries.
Gerard has been Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Corporate Secretary of Herald National Bank since inception in 2008. He was also part of the founding group which provided the initial capital. Prior to joining Herald National Bank, he had spent the better part of the previous two years involved in de novo banking activity and has previously received approval from the OCC, OTS, FDIC, NYS Banking Department and Connecticut Banking Department to hold senior management positions in de novo and established banks.