January 8, 2018
Shop Talk

Webster Five wants $1B the right way

Donald Doyle, President and CEO of Webster Five.

Donald Doyle

Age: 57

Born: Springfield

Residence: Shrewsbury

Education: Bachelor of business administration in finance, UMass Amherst; master of business administration, Suffolk University

Donald Doyle took over leadership of Webster Five in May 2016, looking to transition the community mutual bank into the future. This March, the company is set to celebrate its 150th anniversary while it prepares for a time when most of its assets will be from Millennials.

How's it been taking over as CEO?

It has been great. I was fortunate in that I started with the organization 14 years ago, and I was actually voted into succeed former CEO Richard Leahy in April 2015, so I had a one-year transition period where I worked very closely with Rich.

By the time I took over, I was already managing the entire organization, so the transition was very clean.

What was the biggest change?

One of the biggest adjustment in the first year was not being responsible for managing my own business line, which I had been doing for 10+ years. I had to let my senior managers do it.

One of the things I learned as part of that adjustment is don't be afraid to surround yourself with really smart people, even those who are smarter than you. Bottom line, let them do their jobs. They have been hired and trained to be experts in their area.

That gives me the opportunity to go over the macro issues impacting the bank. I am working with the board to develop strategy, and then working with the senior management team to implement that strategy and communicate it to the entire employee base.

What is your macro strategy?

If you look at where mutual banks fall in our market and compare them to some of the bigger banks in our market, those big banks have bigger pockets and resources to be very aggressive with products and technology. Our objective is to compete with those banks, but we will never have as many resources as they do.

So, our goal is to be the leading community bank in Worcester County, in terms of products and technology, as well as from the community perspective.

How do you reach that goal?

We really are making an effort to go after the younger customer base. The way they do their banking is very different from Baby Boomers. Although Boomers are taking advantage of the technology and doing mobile banking, they still want to come into the branch to talk to someone if they have an issue. That is the way they grew up with their banking relationships.

With the younger generation, sometimes you never see them. They do all their banking online and through mobile apps. We want to be aggressive in offering those products, but we have to be mindful two-thirds of our deposits come from the Baby Boomer generation. We have to be the best of both worlds, and we still need to offer a hands-on experience.

How do you find common ground for those competing philosophies?

We are in the process of transforming our branches. We just renovated our Oxford branch, and we just completed our Worcester branch on 100 Front St. The customer experience is a little different. In a traditional branch, it is more transactional with a teller line with people coming to deposit a check. Now, people are coming in because they may have a question about the mobile app. Because of that, we got rid of the teller line. We have a tech bar where people can ask a question or we can show them how to use the mobile app.

The number of transactions are way down from where they were even five years ago, so the conversations you are having with customers are different.

It is an industry in transformation.

What will the bank look like in the future?

If you look out 10, 15, 20 years, as the Baby Boomers who have two-thirds of our deposits pass on and those assets transfer to their children, our hope is we can continue to service their children. We have to provide the technology to make them comfortable banking with Webster Five.

How do you judge whether you are hitting your goal?

It could be total asset size. It could be deposit size. It could be just customer satisfaction. There are a lot of measures.

We have $800 million in assets now. We would like to be at that $1 billion level in the next three years.

In my mind, if you do things right and take care of your customers, employees and community, the growth will take care of itself. You don't want to grow just to grow.

How does community service factor in?

We made 65 donations totalling $175,000 in 2016. We just made a $150,000 donation here in Webster to the new library, so that was important to us.

Helping the community means a lot of different things. It means donations. Many of our employees sit on local boards and volunteer at many nonprofit events. Being involved in the community is a big part of who we are.

What are you doing for the 150th anniversary?

In April or May, we are going to have an anniversary event here in Webster, but we will celebrate throughout the year at the branch level. Part of that celebration will be our Share the Care promotion, where – through social media – people can vote for their favorite Worcester County not-for-profits, and the top three are given a donation through the bank. We are going to give an award to an individual, someone who is voted as a difference maker. We will honor a key employee as well.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by Brad Kane, WBJ editor.

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