Stephen Flynn: Growing Valley Bank

Stephen Flynn: Growing Valley Bank
Stephen Flynn, Valley Bank's senior vice president and West Division head.

Valley Bank — named after New Jersey’s Passaic River valley near where the bank was founded, not Silicon Valley — has made serious strides to expand its West Coast presence in recent years, most notably through the acquisition of Stephen Flynn. Flynn, formerly the executive vice president in charge of the Los Angeles market for PNC/BBVA, now serves as Valley Bank’s first senior vice president and West Division head. Since joining the bank, Flynn has worked to significantly grow the bank’s presence by adding a team of experienced bankers and growing the portfolio of commercial banking clients. 

What initiatives or strategies have you helped direct since becoming Valley Bank’s West Region Division Head for Commercial Lending?

We are focused on expanding our portfolio with new clients in a wide range of industries, from agriculture to printing to services. Our goal is to become the primary bank for our clients, providing a full range of banking services including deposits, treasury management and wealth management. Our relationship management team works with all of our product partners to deliver all banking services and coordinate the solutions for clients that are customized to their needs.

What trends in the finance industry should more people be paying attention to? Why is it important?

Relationship banking is key. While the industry has talked about the need to have a true relationship with clients, it is now imperative that the bank and client work as partners and that the client understands the bank’s need to have a profitable, multi-product relationship. The days of one-off loans clients are coming to a rapid close.

What are some greater economic developments that are impacting or could impact your industry in the near future? How is the bank preparing for or handling these challenges?

The increase in interest rates has a real impact on the bottom line of companies, particularly if they have a high level of leverage. Despite what many may hope, the higher rates are not going to decline in the near term, so companies need to be prepared to adjust. This may mean higher prices for the goods and services they provide, if they are able to raise prices, or becoming more efficient by lowering costs. In the case of privately held companies, it may mean lower distributions to the owners.

What is one of the most important professional lessons you’ve learned from your time in the industry? How has it guided how you handle your work?

Anticipate and expect change, both internal or external.  Expecting the status quo to remain is not a strategy for success. We all know management hates surprises, so anticipate potential changes and communicate the impact on the client and portfolio in advance.

Who or what helped you climb the ladder in the early years of your career?

There are many people who helped guide me in my career. The most important lesson I learned though, early in my banking career, was don’t fret the small stuff and treat all people with dignity and inclusion. There are times you have to be the boss, but avoid creating an atmosphere where your team is afraid to be open and forthcoming.

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