Episode 2: Leanne Kassab and Mary Kate Loftus
Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: The Journey of Impressia Bank
In the captivating second episode of "Jack Rants With Modern Bankers," host Jack Hubbard sits down with his good friend and client Leanne Kassab and Mary Kate Loftus, President of Impressia Bank. The episode explores the concept behind Impressia Bank, a groundbreaking venture that enables women-owned businesses to thrive within the world of financial services. Leanne and Mary Kate reveal the innovative concept of starting a bank within a bank and shed light on the challenges and opportunities facing women entrepreneurs.
Leanne and Mary Kate share their perspectives on Impresa Bank's visionary approach, addressing access to capital, fostering a collaborative networking environment, and redefining the client experience through digital banking. Jack and his guests discuss strategies for success and reflect on the profound impact of their mission. With a focus on empowerment, networking, and driving positive change, this episode offers valuable insights for listeners interested in modern banking and the role it plays in supporting and elevating women-owned businesses.
Our intention is to create really good experiences that enable remote support. So we'll be looking into things like video connection from our relationship managers to a client if for whatever reason, because our clients are also on the road. That's another thing we're learning: too many of them are traveling to meet their clients, so what we're doing is we'll set up video connections and that way, to simplify appointment booking ability to do e-signature and digitization of any forms and any banking needs that the client needs.
Jack Hubbard 00:18
I've had the privilege of being in at around banking for more than 50 years. Lots of changes during that time. We've gone from Ledger's to laptops, typewriters to technology. One thing, however, remains the same. Banking is a people business. And I'll be talking with those people that make banking great here on Jack Rants with Modern Bankers. Welcome to Jack Rants with Modern Bankers brought to you by RelPro and VerticalIQ. Each week I feature top voices and financial services from bankers and consultants, to best selling authors and many more. The goal of this program is simple, to provide insights success practices, and to bring new ideas to the table that you can use to maximize your results.
My guests today are Leanne Kassab, Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer of CNB bank and Mary Kate Loftus, President of Impressia. We're going to talk about focusing on women in banking today with the new CMB division of Impressia Bank. Leanne earned a BS in Marketing in Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and she's an honors graduate of ABA’s School of Bank Marketing and Management and that's where I met Leanne. Leanne has been with CNB for 27 years and she is one of the best marketing professionals I know in this industry. Mary Kate Loftus holds a BS from Binghamton University and an MBA from Canisius. Mary Kate was named one of the women to watch by Deloitte and serves on many community boards in the greater Buffalo New York area. It's Leanne Kassab and Mary Kate Loftus, talking about Impressia Bank, in Jack Rants with Modern Bankers, here we go!
So I'm thrilled to have both Leanne and Mary Kate with us today. And as I mentioned in the introduction, I've known Leanne Kassab for many, many, many years through bank Marketing School, and the ABA, etc. And I've just met Mary Kate a little while ago, but she's on an amazing journey. So I'd love to start because I like to start every show with this, Mary Kay. personally, professionally, anything, tell me something good.
Mary Kate Loftus 02:45
I will tell you two things that are great. The first of course, I'll start personally, I have loved being on the road. I spent the last few days in Clearfield and last week I was in Erie, Pennsylvania, and I love meeting all these amazing people. But I also love waking up in my own home and kissing my children good morning, which was wonderful. So I was able to do that today. And then something else was I had a customer that's a potential customer. She doesn't have a relationship with this yet. And we met last week. And I was so excited about her business. I even mentioned it to Leanne yesterday and showed her a picture of her of our visit and an award she wanted from the business first. And today she reached out to me and she actually reached out to me with something not positive. She told me she said something to me. But it opened my eyes to saying wow, it's so amazing when you have people feel they can be honest with you and say this is where I what I need from you. So that is something that is actually a good, great thing that happened to me today. And I thanked her I thanked her for it and said to we're going to help you out.
Jack Hubbard 03:47
Yeah, that's great. And we're going to explore that a little bit because you have the opportunity to do something that very few people in the United States get to do. And that's to start a business within a business. And so we're going to explore that a little bit today. So those are two great things. Leanne tell me something good.
Leanne Kassab 04:07
Well, every day, and this might lead into the our discussion point for today, but every day I'm surrounded by the most amazing women in our organization. We started down this venture of Impressia Bank, which we'll be talking about about 18 months ago. And I really got to know and appreciate some of the female leaders in our organization and some outside of the organization. I'm super excited that Mary Kate has joined us I wasn't involved in her interview process at all. That was another two great women leaders in our organization that that brought her to our attention and we've been so happy and fortunate every day to have her lead the charge for Impressia and every time I get to speak with Mary Kay, which is nearly every day, she has another great story for me about how we're being received in our communities, interactions she's having with new employees and new clients. That's, that's great. It just makes everyday good.
Jack Hubbard 05:20
Absolutely. And you've had such an amazing run and a great history with CNB and Clearfield and, and all of your affiliates over in Columbus and Erie and Cleveland. And certainly now buffalo with my friend Marty up there in Buffalo. And Angela, Angie Wilcoxon. Was is your boss, Mary Kate, I know. And she's one of very few women in banking. And she can be very proud of this. And you can as well to be at the head of commercial as a female. So I think that says quite a lot for the organization and where it's where it's headed. Well, let's talk about where it's headed. So you released this this item in the press on December 12, kind of announcing this but as you mentioned, Leanne, this has been a long journey. Talk about the journey. What got us here to impress your bank? Yeah.
Leanne Kassab 06:15
Well, about 18 months ago, Mike Purdue's he joined our organization, as our incoming president and CEO, Joe Bauer had been our president CEO for 15 years, he was instrumental in growing and opening all of these new divisions, part of Mike's orientation involved a listening tour, what he called it going around, and meeting employees of the bank all over our footprint, which as you know, spans across four states. When he came back, he talked about how impressed he was with the quality of female leadership in our organization. And to your point, the anti Wilcoxon being our chief commercial lender, and other strong women leaders in the organization that really step up and run the show. And so he was inspired by that. And he said, we have a opportunity to build a bank centered around female leaders focused on female business owners and female leader business leaders. So he pulled myself and one of my co workers in to propose to us that we consider opening a bank for women in business. So in pretty short order, we pulled together a group of those strong female leaders, and we, you know, just sat down in a room and we started vetting. And going through it, we pulled in a women business owner, who is a client of ours, who was very passionate, and she herself works with women, business owners to help them grow their business and succeed. And from there, you know, 18 months later, come December, I guess that was probably only about 12 months later, come December, we were ready to announce impress the bank to the public. And that was important to us at that time, because we were ready to start recruiting our president. And in doing so, we wanted to make sure that, you know, whomever kind of looked up this initiative found something. So we want to make sure they knew it was a real initiative that we were not afraid to tell the public that we were taking on. That's wonderful. So the name and Prestea. So when we started thinking about what we want to name the bank, we were coming up with all these names, and we'd go to our trademark attorney and they'd say, Nope, take a note taken well, vaguely close, it's tricky to come up with a new bank name now. That isn't already trademark, or, you know, has some kind of conflict of interest with another company. So we knew we needed to come up with a name that was unique and almost made up. So impressed the bank. And Prestea is not really a word, but impresa is Italian for enterprise undertaking endeavor. It's a company at firmer a business. So we liked that adding sia and Prestea made it sound more feminine, more female oriented, not overtly, but we felt that it was important that it be a little bit more focused on the female population.
Jack Hubbard 09:44
That's great. That's wonderful. So Mary Kate, you're fine. You're happy in your career and you've you've had a great banking career. And here comes impresa bank what what was it that you saw in this opportunity? That said, this is the this is for me, I need to take this leap.
Mary Kate Loftus 10:03
Well, it was three things. The first was that I mean, the opportunity, it's like this amazing intersection of women and banking and community that you don't you just, it doesn't really exist often, it's incredibly, you know, very rare in the in the banking world, the fact that it wasn't like a side initiative, like so many banks have great programs that say we're going to focus in will offer special training programs or special networking event. But it's not like an exclusive focus. And the fact that this was this is completely dedicated to supporting women, that to me was phenomenal. And then when I met the, when I met the leaders, and you know, Leanne, you know, mentioned that a bit, there was a steering committee of women that have off but have just worked and worked and worked on this. And then I met the rest of the leadership of CNB bank and buffalo, Erie bank, and, and all of the other family of banks, CNB. And I just thought they were phenomenal people. And I said, I'm in this is this is a great opportunity.
Jack Hubbard 11:03
So on your website, you do show a photo of your steering committee, Mary Kate, you talk about this, what is their role in this whole show?
Mary Kate Loftus 11:16
So the steering committee over the past, I think, really about 18 months or so has really shaped and worked through what is the commercial opportunity? What is the need, that our customers are expressing, and then really looked at the numbers as well, what's your percentage of clients of women who are women owned businesses in our commercial portfolio, for example, in our private bank portfolio, and then they looked at the opportunity, and they said, We this is this is something that we believe is going to help grow the bank, it'll solve a big problem within all of our communities, and that by accelerating the funding, we then will be able to help every single community that we're serving. The steering committee continues to advise, and here's what we're hearing from our customers, here's the the actions to be able to deliver on that. And then how we together collectively decide how to prioritize the work. What I love is that they're from all parts of the bank, and there's everything from their head of treasury management, head of banking, operations, marketing, and other groups really then are fully representing like multiple points of view, which is fantastic as well.
Jack Hubbard 12:21
It is good. And the steering committee is wonderful. But you have to you've opened a bank, now you have to execute. And there has got to be multiple priorities, one of which is certainly hiring great people. Talk about some of the priorities and talk about hiring people who are you looking for as a candidate for a banker?
Mary Kate Loftus 12:43
Well, we need of course, people that have deep expertise and experience and you know, lending, retail bank business banking, you know, broadly able to the type of people that really say they understand the discipline of banking, I'll say, the, but then we also need people who have shown a commitment, and that recently, but really over a period of time, to uplifting women becoming involved understanding the the nuanced needs, and how to be able to build trust and be able to support them. So when we look at those two together, that that to me is how we identify who would be a good fit. Now, who would be a great fit for these roles are the people who are just passionate, and they say, This matters so much to me deeply on a personal level, right? We also are hiring people that are really important is that they are passive, and that they have a great alignment with what our you know, cultural values are. And when we put that all together, that is the amazing type of person that we want to hire. And we just sound we have hired relationship managers now in Erie and in Cleveland. And then we have roles open and other markets that we're serving, but we're really prioritizing roles that are going to be able to meet directly with clients and work to support them to triple these relationships.
Jack Hubbard 14:08
That's terrific. Leanne, Mary Kate brought up something kind of interesting. That didn't say it exactly this way. But we kind of looked at in our portfolios, who were some women business owners that currently were clients, perhaps in Erie bank, likely because that's where you started. Are you going to migrate those over to impress the bank? And if so, how's that going to work?
Leanne Kassab 14:34
Yeah, not necessarily jackets, it's completely up to the client. We will be offering some, you know, special services to these clients for that are focused on their needs, that they relate to us. But many of our women business clients already have great relationships with their lender, their lender or maybe male or female. But, you know, they obviously came to Erie bank or bank on Buffalo because of the relationship they have with their officer, their banking manager. So, no, they're, they're gonna stay put unless they express a desire to be part of the Impressia movement, as we call it. So, you know, when they and they may decide that they want to have a relationship with both Impressia Bank and Bank of Buffalo, for example. And so yeah, we're not moving customers that's completely up to them.
Jack Hubbard 15:35
Well, it's such a smart idea to start in one piece of the footprint, and you have that unique advantage because it's kind of more vertical. It's all part of CMB. But you have that verticality that says, Okay, well, this is sort of Erie bank, and et cetera. You talked about bank on buffalo Lian, and I know that I believe it was last year, maybe we're more recent than that, you actually opened a brand new branch that's phenomenal and very, very modern, as it relates to Erie Bank. What about the physicality of this? What if I'm a woman, entrepreneur? Where am I gonna go to bank? And if it's current branch, do what do I go in and see my bank? Are there? How's this all gonna work?
Mary Kate Loftus 16:25
Well, yeah, I'm certainly because you know, in every bank, customer can bank at Bank and buffalo CIMB. Bank and Bank at Ridge view bank, we are operationally all one bank. So that's the glory of it. And starting in our existing geographic footprint, we don't have to build brick and mortar facilities to support these new customers, they can certainly go in and do transactions within the branch. However, we're really focused on a digital relationship, meeting customer where they are going out and, and you know, going to a coffee shop or going to their business and spending time with them. Outside of a brick and mortar office, we don't believe based on the feedback and research that we've done, that this specific segment of customer really cares to spend time in a brick and mortar branch.
Jack Hubbard 17:18
Interesting. And I want to explore digital because Mary Kate is an expert in that. And we can prove it because she has documentation to prove that. But Mary Kate, I want to ask you about Impressia Bank dot bank. It's a wonderful website, brand new website. And on the website, it talks about redefining the client experience. Talk about what that means?
Mary Kate Loftus 17:46
Yes, absolutely. The when you think about today's banker experience, likely and mentioned, there are clients that have wonderful, deep, trusting relationships with their banker, and that's absolutely wonderful. But there's also some business owners that may not feel comfortable walking into a bank and saying this is you know, this is the situation I'm in or these are my dreams, and this is what I want to get to. So redefining the relationship means that you have a relationship manager that isn't just your banker, but it's a friend and looking broadly across all of your needs. The in this way, then we're able to really understand if we understand where the client wants to go, we can bring every resource available to be able to meet them. And sometimes it is the ability to to, to build up a relationship that's really based on trust, to be able to achieve that. Now I'll tell you a little bit about some of the capabilities that we're that we're looking to bring forward. It's about we've heard from women that they say I need more access to information that's relevant to my type of business. So I might be great at making something or selling something, but I don't understand all the business elements behind it. And what we'll be doing is giving women the opportunity to select where they need the help. And then we're going to use digital means to be able to engage in message with them. So we can send a link over tax to a to a secure site where they can Network Connect and get the information they need. We also are looking into coaching which is which is really different. So financial coaching is not something that's really done today, and a lot of times in banks. Really the bankers are very busy, right? There's people are working very lean. And the opportunity to say we want to invest where your relationship manager can spend a lot of time with you to be able to really look at your financial results and help guide you to work closer to your goals is another way that we're looking to change that.
Jack Hubbard 19:44
That's really interesting. You know, I was telling Leanne, as we were setting this up years ago, I was at a bank in Texas that I don't believe exists anymore, but I walked into their Women's Hall of Fame They actually had a room where it was dedicated to women and they were plaques on the wall. And they wouldn't give awards and, and different things like that. And one of the things that the director of this program suggested was that the reason they they started this women banking program was access to capital women struggle with that. And I've, I've noticed on your website and some of the commentary that you've made in your, in your brochures, that that's still true. First of all, talk about why access to capital is so challenging for women owned business. And what are we doing here? We're in 2023, haven't been rolled up?
Mary Kate Loftus 20:46
Yeah, I mean, I'll give you two examples. So what we see in the data, and this is everything from score to SBA insights, what we see is that often women are asking for less money. So although right now the percentages of loans that get approved have significantly leveled out, which is wonderful. What we do find is that for a business, women are more likely to ask for less money in the long term impact of that is that then they end up self funding through credit cards or personal assets, instead of being able to leverage other means of capital to be able to reinvest in their business, therefore, to grow, hire employees, you know, be able to, to build the capabilities of their business out. So we see that as a challenge. The other part is that you still have the I'll call it the other challenges. So women, business owners have to face all the same challenges that other businesses, but then they also have to deal with less of an access to a network, less people, perhaps that have walked that same path. And they can ask in a trusted way to say, how do I handle this and really getting that mentorship and advice. And then also, they're balancing their families, they're often moms and they might be the sandwich generation where they're taking care of an aging parent and children at the same time, while they're navigating leading a business. So these are the unique challenges and all of that together means they may make decisions that in the long run impact the performance of their business, and that's where we want to have conversations to change that.
Jack Hubbard 22:16
And it's my understanding that, and I've seen some research on this, that women are much better networkers than men. Mary Kate has Have you already had a year at a young organization. But knowing Leanne, as I do, and your bank, you're very proactive as well, what kind of networking events have you had already? And what kind of response have you got?
Mary Kate Loftus 22:37
Yeah, so far, we had a launch events in Erie, we were at the Intermodal Center in Erie, Pennsylvania, and then also at our seven hills ranch in Cleveland. And we opened it up to the community and invited people, we put it out on social media and said, anyone's welcome, please come join us, you know, to be able to participate. And we had women, we had several that came and said, I'm just curious about what this is really about. And I want to talk to somebody. So the feedback has been very positive. It's not just startup businesses that are looking for capital and looking for guidance. It's actually what we're also seeing is well established businesses where women are saying I had a hard time with it 20 years ago, I want to, I want to support this because I want to invest in the next generation coming up locally. So I think that's the other thing that we found through our conversations and networking so far.
Jack Hubbard 23:28
Outstanding! Leanne you've done a couple of unique things that's surprising, knowing you and how creative you are you talk about the chic economy, which is outstanding. And you've put a couple of tools in place to really help women proactively one is Impressia University Academy. And the other is Impressia Connect, talking about those two, they seem very unique to me.
Leanne Kassab 23:55
Yeah, so driven straight from our target segments, feedback. Women who own businesses, a lot of times, the majority of the time, they get into business because they have a talent or a passion or a craft that they're really good at and they feel good doing. And that's how they want to spend their days. And the business operations and finance is really secondary for them. And it's not the fun part for most of them. So we want to be able to provide support and education on those less fun aspects because it is critical, and it is important and it's important for their growth. And what we really want to do is aim for loftier goals, grow success and generational wealth. Because it's all within their limits. It's all within their scope and their ability. So the Impressia Academy is being built for that purpose. And it goes beyond the financial aspect really into all areas of business planning and all vibrations, not that we're the experts on those subjects, but we're gonna find them. Like Mary Kate talked about she had, she had women business owners who are very successful come up to her and say they want to be part of this for the younger generation for the next generation of women, business leaders. And so we'll, we'll reach out to those women, business leaders who have been successful, and have an expertise and can speak on behalf of their business growth and planning challenges and how they overcame them. So that we don't have to learn the hard way, right, we can, we can share those stories with all of our clients, particularly those that are in the earlier stages of their business development. So we also want to build these networks of women with common goals, challenges and passions and get them connected, so they can share stories with each other.
Jack Hubbard 26:01
You know, you mentioned something kind of interesting. And I've had two calls recently from Baker's footprints, like yours fairly large organizations who say, my advisory board is just nothing, don't do anything. They come quarterly and have a meal. And, they don't provide us referrals, which is what they should do. Challenge, of course, is that they're good customers, so you don't want to fire him from the advisory board. It's a real challenge. What kind of thoughts have you given to because you've mentioned how women want to help each other? What kind of thoughts have you given to perhaps advisory boards in your footprint?
Leanne Kassab 26:39
Well, we've really been waiting for Mary Kate to join. So I know we've had thoughts, you know, ourselves from a steering committee, but I do want to punt that question to Mary Kate.
Mary Kate Loftus 26:48
Thanks, Leanne. And it's a great question, Jack, I think that you're right, and that having a very engaged advisory board is going to be critical. As we begin the bank, we know that we will have a net because of the extension of the footprint. So we're all the way down from Virginia, you know, down south coming all the way up through Buffalo and Rochester, what we're going to do is build a board that spans our entire geography, we are looking for making sure that like the people that we're hiring, these are leaders, and it doesn't necessarily have to be all women, again, just like our team, where we say who are the people that are best positioned that have a passion for this have expertise in it, and really can advise us so. So I think that that is partly on us to make sure that we create an environment where the people that want to participate have that ability, and we create an environment where they say I think Impressia is so amazing that I want to, I’m invested in the success of the organization. We'll also have them locally in each area that we're operating as well. So what we want to do is maintain the connection, because these are often leaders who can say this is really what we're hearing. This is where we feel the community needs the bank support. And this is these are opportunities we should be exploring. So I'm really excited. We're looking we'll be setting up and having conversations regarding our advisory boards during third quarter.
Jack Hubbard 28:12
Oh, that's outstanding. And you and Leanne mentioned a little while ago, Mary Kate about the digital process. You were or our vice chair of the consumer bankers Association's digital digital channels committee. You've recently got an early certification on blockchain and digital asset assets from Wharton. So you've got and I, as I noted in your when I looked at your LinkedIn profile, you've got great expertise in digital banking, what are you seeing around women using digital, and how much of an advantage will it be for you, given the fact that you have a limited footprint that you're doing this in right now, but you could gain women, customers from all over the country digitally?
Mary Kate Loftus 28:59
Now, it's I believe that digital is going to be the way that we unlock a lot of value for our clients from what we know if you go back to what our customers really need. They need fast and easy, reliable experiences because they're busy people, right, we need to simplify their lives. What's nice about CNB is that it is like sort of it's able to have the capabilities that help customers, but it's because of its size. It's also very easy to be able to modify and listen to customers and be able to create the experiences that they're looking for. Our intention is to create really good experiences that enable remote support. So we'll be looking into things like video connection from our relationship managers to a client if for whatever reason, because our clients are also on the road that's another thing we're learning too many of them are traveling to meet their clients. So what we're doing is we'll set up video connections and that way, you know simplified appointment booking ability to do a signature and digitization of any forms and any banking needs that the client needs. But I think it's really exciting. And what I do know is that when you think about a learning journey, and this is something that I know you are exceptionally passionate about, but the world is changing so fast, we have all an opportunity to just pause and look and say, what, what, what do these new emerging technologies offer for us? And it's, and it's really thinking about if a customer has a need, and then this is a new capability? Well, how can we use that to be able to better their lives. And I think that all of us, part of what we're building within impresa is a culture of learning. And I promise that to all of our new team members will be just as we want to help our clients on their educational journey, we're going to do the same, and our personal experience, so we can better help them.
Jack Hubbard 30:53
And you talked about bettering their lives. And it gets me to thinking about, because we've been talking primarily about women business owners, certainly, but that all flows, as you well know, from both of your experience over into wealth management, Mary Kate, I'm a female, I'm a widow. And I have some I've come into some money, I'd love to do business with with Impressia bank, Is that doable? Absolutely.
Mary Kate Loftus 31:20
Absolutely. And, and, you know, our, because what we're looking to do is to be able to meet customers' needs all the way from no matter where they are in every stage of their life. You know, Wealth Management, and planning is a critical part of that. So within CNB, every division has private client services, which do both the investment side, the private banking side, you know, and we bring it all together full picture. So. So I mean, the doors are open. And I think it's more about if people as we continue to grow, will continue to expand how we're able to, to help customers in that respect.
Jack Hubbard 32:18
That's great. Leanne, I know that I know your people pretty well. And I know they're pretty assertive and very proactive. So if I'm in Columbus, and I'm the president in the Columbus bank, and I say, you know, I really liked this idea. But you can't do it all at once. Lian, what's going to determine where you go next, and when you go next?
Leanne Kassab 32:45
Well, as you know, we started in Erie in Cleveland, we actually thought that we were going to end up with our headquarters in Cleveland, we thought the greatest potential was in that market of all of the markets that were that we're in. But Mary Kate came to us from Buffalo. We were so far along in that process. And there's a lot of opportunity in both of those markets, Erie, Pa and Cleveland, Ohio. We moved forward with that. However, when we announced that Mary Kate was our president and that the headquarters we were early enough in the process, we said we there's no reason why our headquarters can't be in Buffalo, where Mary Kate says it just made more sense. Buffalo is also a very rich opportunity for us when it comes to women owned business and within business leaders. So when we made that shift, and we wanted to announce Mary Kate being the president of Impressia Bank, and we knew that Buffalo was going to be all over us, so they have been reaching out a lot of people in Buffalo want to be part of this movement as as we call it. And Mary, Kate's been fielding calls and leads from all three of those markets. And so where we go next from there, so we ended up expediting our plans for Buffalo is a Buffalo's next, for sure. So she's been looking to hire a relationship manager in that market and some other positions. Where we go next, we think will be our CIMB bank market. Because we are poised here as well. We've already made that announcement. And then we're left then with our FC bank market, our Columbus market and rich feedback grid view Bank is a newer brand for us. So we're kind of making that our last initiative within our geographic footprint because Carrie McConnell who is the president of Richview bank, in in Roanoke, Virginia area, she's just getting her feet under her. We've just built our first branch. We want to give that brand time to settle in in her market before we would introduce another brand of Impressia Bank but certainly when they built their headquarters they'll be building space is for Impressia Bank presence. And I think what we're learning to like to add on to what Leanne said is that every community that we're in is so like rich and vibrant in terms of the, you know, the entrepreneurial support. I mean, this is this is a movement that's happening across the country. I believe that the cities that are like the Erie pas, and the Cleveland and the buffaloes, and you know, are that these are cities that I mean, you can call them Rust Belt, but they're really like, they have the grit and they have a hard work. And that's why when we've announced a press, you have people say, This is awesome. This is really much in alignment with who we are as a community. But our approach will be different, because the resources that are in Erie may be different than what's in Cleveland already. And what we want to do is not duplicate what's happening locally, we want to enhance it. So we'll be working hand in hand with you know, the Athena, there's many organizations like Athena, and that, that really invest in the entrepreneurial support for women locally. And we'll work hand in hand and say, what are the gaps there that you see? And then we'll try to complement that and work together.
Jack Hubbard 36:01
That's just wonderful. Well, you've both been so kind with your time, I'll ask each of you one more question, Leanne. I'm a commercial bank, somewhere in the United States. And I hear this and I say, you know, this sounds like a really good idea. We got a lot of women on businesses in our marketplace. I'm gonna call you, Leanne. I'm gonna say, Leanne, what are some mistakes you made? What are some things you would have done differently? To get you to the journey, maybe faster and better? What do you think?
Leanne Kassab 36:36
Well, I think we're moving pretty fast. So I, you know, I don't think that we would want to move any faster. I think one of the things that we probably should have done, though, is recruited our president earlier we spent a lot of time building out and proving to ourselves that this is a need that we can handle it. And you know, all the specialty areas that we wanted to cover, I think that it would have been really advantageous to pull our Mary Kate Loftus in sooner than later, so that she could be part of that building process. And so that we could weave all of her passions and experience into the planning.
Jack Hubbard 37:24
Well, and I know, Mike and Marty really well, they're both very entrepreneurial. They're both innovative. And they're both great people to work for. So you have all of that going, which is really wonderful. Mary, Kate, last question. So it's May, it's June 1, of 2024. And you and Leanne and the team are celebrating your pop and some champagne. And you're saying we had a great year. What's a great year? What success looks like for you in a year. A great year is when in Erie, Pennsylvania. A when when the leaders of that community are together or together they're saying wow, like if there's there's a new business being formed, you gotta go to impress the bank, they are going to help you they are the ones that you can trust, a great years when we have a team of leaders that are so loving their job out being with women and helping them advance and listening to them and helping them advance their businesses that they say I couldn't imagine working anywhere else, because this is such a place that fills me with joy. And then lastly, that we within our within our bank, I think the other big benefit that isn't to be underestimated is that so many women within the organization have even already privately reached out to me and said, I'm so proud that we did this like I love working with CNB and Erie bank or FC bank and in whatever division we're in, because the bank really said we're going to do something different. And I think that is not to be underestimated. And I would love for just even you know more and more team members and for that to be the part of the thread that the story.
Jack Hubbard 39:28
Leanne thanks for your friendship for all these years. I really appreciate it. Mary Kate, congratulations and all the best and hope that in one year we could have a class reunion and do a video and talk about your great successes. Congratulations ladies!
Mary Kate Loftus and Leanne Kassab 39:44
Thanks. It’s an honor to be here.
Jack Hubbard 39:48
Thanks for listening to this episode of Jack Rants with Modern Bankers with my great guests, Leanne Kassab and Mary Kate Loftus, this, and every program is brought to you by our friends at VerticalIQ and RelPro. Join us next time for more special guests bringing you marketing, sales, and leadership insights along with ideas that will provide your bank or credit union with that competitive edge you need to succeed. This LinkedIn live show is also a podcast. Subscribe to the latest episodes of Jack Rants with Modern Bankers and leave us a review. Where on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and others. Visit our website, themodernbanker.com for more specific information and don't forget, sign up for our free public library at themodernbaker.com/public library. And don't forget to make today, and every day, a great client day!