Successful female banker takes pride in helping others succeed

Cris Collingwood//March 7, 2023

Successful female banker takes pride in helping others succeed

Cris Collingwood//March 7, 2023

Patricia Husic is about to start another chapter in her life.

The dynamic former president and CEO of Centric Financial Corporation and Centric Bank is up to the challenge, whatever that challenge may be.

Patricia Husic

“I’m not retiring,” she quipped. “I’m just going to take some time to figure out what is next.”

Named one of the Most Powerful Women in Banking for seven consecutive years, Husic, who is on the board of directors for First Commonwealth Bank, which acquired Centric Feb. 1, plans to stay on the board for six months to help with the transition before looking ahead.

Husic co-founded Centric in 2007 and along with her team, grew the Harrisburg-based community bank into a $1.1 billion financial institution before the merger with First Commonwealth.

She is among a small group of female bankers nationally to have founded a bank and then successfully negotiated its sale.

The road was not easy, but “failure is not an option,” Husic said.

Her journey started when she joined Vartan Bank as its CFO and COO to help the institution become financially stable. Six months after she started, the sole owner, John Vartan, passed away and Husic found herself leading the team.

In 2006, the Vartan family decided to sell the bank and Husic and three board members made an offer.

“We needed to raise $12 million in 120 days for regulatory approval,” she said. “We raised it in 58 days with 125 shareholders. We were hustling in those days.”

Husic, a past chair of the PA Bankers Association, only one of three women to hold the position in its 127-year history, said after securing the funding and regulatory approval, she and her team embarked on rebranding Centric as a community bank.

The bank was under an enforcement agreement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which Husic said was tough.

“I bought myself a fixer upper,” she said. “The OCC requires that deficiencies in the institution must be rectified before exiting the formal enforcement agreement.”

While working to stabilize the bank, the financial crisis of 2008 hit and Husic said the OCC stopped working with her because they were dealing with larger institutions. ‘

“I went to see the state Secretary of Banking and outlined everything we’d done and asked for a charter change as we were better aligned with the Department of Pennsylvania Banking.”

Calling it “a big ask,” Husic said it was a success.

By March of 2009, the bank was free to grow revenue, expand branches and people. Husic said the physical footprint included two branches in Dauphin County, two in Cumberland County and one each in Lancaster, Chester and Berks counties.

“We were worth $65 million when we started and we exceeded $1 billion with no acquisitions,” she said with pride.

The bank did so well, it became one of the winningest banks in the country. It received American Banker Best Banks to Work For, American Banker Top Teams recognition, Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies and Top 200 Community Banks in the U.S.

But what Husic is most proud of is the people that made it happen. Diversity is at the top of her priority list because she said, “if everyone looks the same and comes from the same background, they think the same.”

Centric Bank’s leadership team was 60% female with 70% of the staff being female.

“Less than five percent of women make the C-suite,” she said. “I want to see that change.”

The pride in helping others achieve what they want landed Husic as chair of the PA Bankers Association. During that time, she started a women in banking conference to offer mentoring, networking and education.

“It took three years to kick off and now it’s in its ninth year and the second largest conference the PA Bankers Association puts on,” she said. “This was my biggest success while being chair,” she said.

It has been so successful that the awards Husic helped create, Rising Star and Women of Influence, that the association gave the first Women of Influence Award to her. Saying she was humbled, Husic said the association went on to name the award the Patricia A. Husic Women of Influence award.

“It’s a great honor,” she said.

As Centric Bank continued to grow, Husic said her plan was to get on Nasdaq, but plans changed when the pandemic hit. The company didn’t stop growing during COVID, but bank stocks took a hit, she said.

Knowing Thomas Michael Price, president and CEO of First Commonwealth, Husic started discussing future possibilities.

“We negotiated a sale with an institution that has a culture that mirrors ours,” she said. “It is bittersweet. I truly love this company and its people and customers. We’ve grown together to 148 employees.”

Husic said she and the board did what they had to do. “At the end of the day it was the fiscally responsible thing to do. We felt it was the best path forward.”

The merger, she said, creates more opportunity for customers. First Commonwealth is a $9.6 billion institution that can offer customers more products, technology, online services as well as insurance products and wealth management, she said.

“We couldn’t have done that in the next three years.”

Husic said customers will see the bank signs change in the coming months, but the people they have come to know will still be there.

“People entrusted us with their finances; the trust is incredible. I don’t forget that so I will see this through.”