Behind the List with Larry J. Miller
president and CEO of PeoplesBank
Q: Has the national trend of bank consolidation steered your company's future plans?
A: Bank consolidation, particularly during the Great Recession, presented PeoplesBank with tremendous opportunities for growth. Many of the national and regional financial institutions that we compete against changed their business models and, as a result, we were able to acquire many new client relationships throughout the region.
At the time, our long-range plan also included expanding our franchise into Maryland, and PNC's acquisition of a long-standing, well-respected bank in the Maryland market (Mercantile Bank and Trust Co.) prompted us to expedite those plans by opening three new offices in the Bel Air, Hunt Valley and Westminster markets in the past few years. The response to our approach to relationship banking has been overwhelming and beyond our expectations.
New and existing home sales fell in February and have been described as “rocky” over the last 12 months. Have you found ways of making up revenue from the loss of mortgage fees?
These are certainly challenging times in the housing market, and like all financial institutions across the region, PeoplesBank hasn't been immune to the effects of the recent slowdown. The uptick in rates has slowed refinancing activity, and new purchases continue to be impacted by consumer concerns and unemployment. Hopefully, as more people re-enter the workforce and consumer confidence rises, we'll see a boost in the housing and mortgage markets and enhanced revenue in this segment of our business.
What is your company doing with mobile banking, and what direction do you see that option taking?
It is abundantly clear that alternative methods to traditional brick-and-mortar banking will continue to rise, as mobile banking gains in popularity with young consumers and a certain segment of all financial services clients. PeoplesBank offers a mobile application for Android and Apple devices that allows our clients to view their accounts, transfer funds and pay bills, from both their smartphone or their tablet. In the future, we expect to continue to invest in this technology and add new features and functionality to make the experience for our clients even more robust.
With so much available online, do you believe brick-and-mortar bank branches will continue to be relevant?
We firmly believe that brick-and-mortar financial services offices will remain relevant and necessary to meet the needs of our clients in the future. The interior design and the services offered through those locations will evolve in the future, as we expect service offerings to expand from traditional banking services to include wealth management, real estate advisory, non-deposit investment advisory services, et cetera.
PeoplesBank dates back to 1864 and has a strong history in the area and industry. Looking to the future, where do you see the Central Pennsylvania bank market 10 years from now?
We feel there is a place in every community for a locally owned financial institution that understands the community's needs, truly believes in relationship banking and is able to make decisions quickly. The difficulty for the banking industry is being able to remain relevant as society seeks financial services via the alternative, or shadow, marketplace. Relevance is more than a matter of a desire to be effective in the marketplace, it is also a matter of image, adaptability and innovation.
Every company has to adapt, grow and innovate — particularly in technology — or they will no longer meet the needs of their clients. We plan to remain relevant 10 years from now.
About Larry Miller
Larry Miller, 62, lives in East York, Springettsbury Township. He and his wife, Sally, have a daughter and son, a granddaughter and one grandchild on the way. He enjoys spending time with them and his dog, Tucker, on the family farm.
He attended York College of Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the Pennsylvania School of Banking, held at Bucknell University.
Miller’s other hobbies include bird hunting and sporting clay shooting.