”Do what you do better. “
When describing his new community bank slated to open March 1, president and CEO Jim Bradham likes to use the phrase high-touch rather than high-tech. That’s because once First American Bank opens on South Valley View in Las Vegas, the staff will live by a trite but true philosophy: account holders want superior customer service. But with every bank in the state claiming it offers superior customer service, will this strategy really work? Bradham believes it will.
“It is difficult to distinguish yourself from other community banks,” Bradham admitted. “Just by saying you offer better service you certainly don’t distinguish yourself at all, because everybody says that. The whole issue becomes one of delivering. All bankers talk the good talk, but from lots of years of experience I’m convinced if you actually deliver superior service, you distinguish your bank rather markedly. There is a lot of difference between talk and delivering.”
Even the big banks with huge budgets for cutting-edge, new product technology have not maximized their potential to differentiate themselves, Bradham said. The secret to succeeding? According to Bradham, it’s “do what you do better” than the rest.
Despite the number of community banks opening in the state, Bradham thinks there’s plenty of room in the market for another new face. He compares the situation to a pipeline. New banks enter the opening of the pipeline while others near the end of the line are expelled as they go out of existence. The net effect? Bradham’s guess is that the number of community banks will level out to its original number.
The challenge, said Bradham, is competing against all banks in the marketplace. Historically, for the last several decades, an oversupply of banks in general has existed in Nevada- not just community banks. “There’s more bank supply than there is demand,” Bradham said. ”But I certainly have the confidence that a well-managed, well-directed; well-conceived community bank will be able to compete successfully in the marketplace.”
First American’s 32 investors agree- to the tune of $7 million. After all, Bradham has the knowledge, experience and background to pull it off. He started his banking career at First National of San Diego in 1967.
In 1980, he moved from La Jolla Bank & Trust Company in California to take the position of CEO of American Bank of Commerce in Las Vegas. He spent the next 18 years in that position until First Security purchased the bank two years ago. As soon as Bradham’s non-compete clause expired on July 1 of this year, he jumped at the chance to begin his new venture. Bradham hopes to receive approval of his state-chartered bank from FDIC regulators by early December with the offering circular going out to investors the first week of January and funds escrowed by February 1.
Bradham is more than ready. “There’s some room for a touch competitor to come in and make a mark.”