RISING STARS: ICBA's Annual Salute to Community Banking's Best and Brightest

By Melby, Todd; Sturgeon, Julie | Independent Banker, February 2009 | Go to article overview

RISING STARS: ICBA's Annual Salute to Community Banking's Best and Brightest


Melby, Todd, Sturgeon, Julie, Independent Banker


Every year ICBA Independent Banker profiles several Rising Stars-people who represent the best of community banking. Like their predecessors, the seven community bankers recognized this year are talented, innovative and hardworking. Most of all, they thrive on helping others, whether customers or colleagues.

So congratulations to ICBA's seven 2009 Rising Stars of community banking:

* Brian Schaeffer, senior vice president, chief technology and information services for Liberty Bell Bank in Marlton, N.J.

* Jacqueline Stanley, president of the retirement plans division for Community National Bank in Seneca, Kan.

* Alton McRee, executive vice president for First United Security Bank in Thomasville, Ala.

* Brian Hoffman, business development officer for Security Bank in Springfield, Ill.

* Nick Anderson, vice president of retail banking for Shoreline Bank in Shoreline, Wash.

* Michael Tullis, vice president and senior lending officer for Garrett State Bank in Garrett, Ind.

* Kenneth W. Swain III, vice president, area manager for 1st National Bank of Scotia, N.Y.

Every ICBA Rising Star was nominated by either his or her boss or a coworker. Each has risen through the ranks by demonstrating ingenuity, a commitment to quality and a sense of responsibility to customers and the community.

Most important, these seven community bankers serve in abundant good company. They join thousands of others throughout the country who serve their institutions and communities with passion, integrity and excellence every day.

BRIAN SCHAEFFER

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT

CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND INFORMATION SERVICES

LIBERTY BELL BANK

MARLTON, N.J.

Talk about a cutthroat marketplace. From his window at New Jersey's Liberty Bell Bank, CEO Kevin Kutcher can see two banks. Just down the street are four more. "You can go for a lunchtime walk around here, visit seven banks and still have time for a slice of pizza," he says.

That's why Kutcher was looking for every possible competitive advantage before opening the bank in 2003. One of his strategies was to hire a chief technology officer who could roll out products quickly.

In hiring Brian Schaeffer, Kutcher wooed a former Dow Jones employee who was a talented programmer and hungry to learn about banking. Part of Schaeffer's on-the-job training was helping to pitch the start-up to dozens of potential investors.

"He took an active interest in and became an integral part of the capital-raising efforts of the bank," Kutcher explains.

Once the financing had been put in place, Schaeffer designed the bank's digital infrastructure, which included its core information processing, item processing, Internet banking and telephone banking systems. "We built everything from nothing," says Schaeffer, 38.

State and federal regulators have given Liberty Bell Bank high marks during compliance examinations. In his letter nominating Brian Schaeffer as an ICBA Rising Star, Kutcher wrote, "Brian has been a standout in a de novo environment, achieving outstanding regulatory results in the highly technical and sensitive IT areas."

Soon after opening, Liberty Bell Bank was adding locations beyond its headquarters in Marlton, N.J., an east Philadelphia suburb. Today, the $150 million-asset bank has four branches. All have the necessary IT infrastructure designed and installed in-house by Schaeffer.

One of the advantages to relying on in-house talent such as Schaeffer is flexibility. When Liberty Bell Bank created its Business Owners Advantage Relationship, an interest-earning personal checking account, it needed to tweak its IT systems.

"If we had outsourced this, we would have been job number 6,000 or something," Kevin Kutcher says.

Instead, "we've got somebody on-site every day who can figure out how to make it come together."

That on-site expertise has helped Liberty Bell Bank keep pace with big-bank competitors. …

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