November 5, 2018

Santander eyes larger CT commercial loan footprint

Q&A talks with Robert Cerminaro, Santander Bank's regional executive of commercial banking for Connecticut.

Q. You were recently named Santander Bank's regional executive of commercial banking for Connecticut. Previously, you held a similar role for KeyBank covering the Tri-State area. What will you be doing in your new job?

A. I am excited to be part of Santander Bank and lead our efforts to grow commercial banking in Connecticut. Santander is one of the largest banks in the world with a strong presence in Europe, Latin America and an actively growing presence in the U.S. My role is to grow Santander Bank's commercial banking business and continue to build its overall brand awareness in the Connecticut market.

Q. What is demand like right now for commercial loans in Connecticut?

A. In my opinion, there's a demand on new issuance of commercial loans in Connecticut and companies are continuing to take advantage of the historic low interest rate environment. It's still an issuer's market, albeit at a slower pace given where we are in the economic cycle.

Q. What's the competitive landscape out there for commercial lenders in the state? Connecticut's economy hasn't been growing like gangbusters for the last decade. Has that made it more challenging to find new borrowers?

A. There are great companies in Connecticut and we think we're the right fit for many of them. You really need to understand each business's hopes, dreams and desires, and then align the value you can bring to them with where they are in their lifecycle today — and where they want to be in the future. We believe that when you follow this principle you are able to build lasting partnerships that lead to more opportunities to grow the relationship regardless of the state of the economy.

Q. What are the chief ways commercial lenders are competing right now? Is it simply about interest rates?

A. Commercial banking is fundamentally a relationship business. It requires experienced bankers who have a burning desire to fully understand the needs of the client and a commitment to delivering valuable solutions to them on a proactive basis. Being proactive and solution-oriented needs to be part of your DNA.

Q. What's the biggest opportunity Santander Bank has in Connecticut? What's the biggest challenge?

A. Santander commercial banking is looking to grow in every market where we operate and we're very excited about the continued opportunities we have in the Connecticut market. Our biggest challenge is not being able to get our message out to the market fast enough.

Q. What are your main goals in your new job?

A. My goal is to help Santander Bank become a leading commercial bank in Connecticut. This means we have to relentlessly focus on demonstrating our value to clients, and proving our value to prospects.

About a year ago, we announced Santander Bank's "Inclusive Communities" plan, an $11 billion, five-year commitment to lending, community development and charitable giving. The plan outlined Santander's commitment to communities across its eight-state northeastern U.S. footprint for 2017 through 2021. Connecticut is my home and I'm really excited to be part of an institution that's so committed to serving its clients and supporting the communities where it does business.

Q. What's your best advice for Connecticut companies seeking a commercial loan right now?

A. It's imperative that you choose a banking partner that can execute on your current needs, but also be positioned to consistently bring ideas and solutions that will support and drive your business's future needs. Companies should look beyond the transactional relationship and focus on the financial institution's overall capabilities. Choosing a bank and relationship manager that is proactive and brings solid, value-added solutions and ideas to the relationship is paramount.

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