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Cynthia Reeves | SBJ

A Conversation With ... Monte McNew

CEO, Guaranty Bank

Posted online

Springfield First Community Bank parent company QCR Holdings Inc. announced the $152 million acquisition of Guaranty Bank in November and the deal is slated to close April 1. In the new Guaranty Bank, you’ll be CEO, and Shaun Burke will be president. How was that decided and what will your working relationship look like?
Due to my history with QCR and being the president and CEO here, they want my leadership in guiding the direction of the bank. There’s no question Shaun has a fantastic banking background, and we want him to be a part of that and be the president and help, in particular, with the retail banking side. That is a strength of Guaranty Bank and is something that we need to continue to learn here at SFC. I’ve always been an admirer of Shaun. We’ve talked at times throughout our careers about working together. I’m excited to learn from him.

I imagine there will be overlap in personnel as the roughly 300 employees merge. How will that be managed? And what will be the headquarters location?
The headquarters is going to be located at Farmers Park. In fact, we are acquiring that building, and we’ll have an opportunity to add another floor and a half of office space that’s necessary. (SFC’s branch) is a very valuable banking center to our existing clients and additionally, this is going to become the home loan center. It worked out great that so many of the executives’ strong suits allowed us to keep intact and combine two great executive-level groups. We are keeping the vast majority of staff intact, whether they’re doing their exact same job function or whether they help our general operations.

Two of QCR’s charters are deposit leaders in their markets. With the $1.6 billion of deposits in the combined Guaranty, the bank is roughly $400 million away from leader Great Southern Bank. QCR has stated its intention to rise to No. 1. What are the strategies to get there?
QCR loves the market that we’re in. We love the market we’re in. The combination does put us in the top four. And our certain goal is to become the leader in the market. We are staying very focused in southwest Missouri while many other banks in this market are looking elsewhere for their growth. With Treasury services, we see a lot of opportunity. We have great technology behind us. From a retail standpoint, the (interactive teller machines) are becoming increasingly used. We’re looking forward to expanding that.

SFC was the last independent charter in the state back in 2008. What’s your take on that name going away?
We’re very proud of the name and the community it represents. But Guaranty has had a 109-year history in our market. The brand awareness is second to none and it also carries well as we expand into other portions of southwest Missouri.

Let’s talk lending. The backdrop includes the Federal Reserve approving this month its first rate hike in three years with six more anticipated this year. Consumer confidence is up slightly in March after declines this year, but expectations are dampened with rising gas prices, the Russia-Ukraine war and more. What’s on the horizon for lending in this environment?
We’re paying attention to inflation and the raising rate environment. Those combined can really have an effect on, at minimum, single-family home construction. With the cost of that going up, and then the cost of money going up for the borrower, it can be a challenge. We’ve had a very low-rate environment in recent years, and we have to make sure that our clients are paying attention to the potential of a higher rate environment and to make sure that they can still do their business in that situation.

Is there a goal within the new Guaranty as far as what percentage of the portfolio of QCR the bank will represent? SFC was about 15% of assets.
We’ll be the largest or right at the largest bank inside of the holding company. We’re excited about that and we always had that intention since we merged with QCR. QCR wants to continue to grow in other markets, like Des Moines, [Iowa,] and perhaps expansion in other similar markets. We understand these markets. We’re not going up against perhaps the bigger banks in these settings. Everything about Springfield is exactly what QCR wants to target going forward.

You've been president at SFC Bank since 2014 and added CEO to your title in 2021. The new Guaranty is a significantly larger undertaking. How are you preparing and what is your leadership style?
I couldn't be more excited. Our depth of knowledge is unparalleled in our market. That's what brings me comfort. I just love the people I work with. We try to be honest, open and clear with the direction we're going. That's probably one of the things that I stand on the most.

Monte McNew can be reached at mmcnew@gbankmo.com.

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