When Sun State Bank was acquired by Zions Bankcorporation and merged into Nevada State Bank in 1997, executive vice president Jackie DeLaney faced some major career choices. She had groomed herself for a CEO position throughout the course of her 27-year career. She could look for a rare executive-level banking position locally, or she could relocate. Or better yet, DeLaney could pool her years of hard work, perseverance and industry knowledge and open a new bank. That’s exactly what she did.
Today, DeLaney is founder, president and CEO of Sun West Bank, a community bank which opened in mid-1998 with $12 million in initial capital, a staggering amount for a community bank opening in Southern Nevada. Fourth quarter 2000 profits for the bank were $222,700, representing a 96 percent increase from the previous year. Total assets for the year were $113 million, an increase of 66 percent over year-end 1999. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far,” DeLaney noted. “We see ourselves as being the premier community bank. We’re here for the long haul.”
In addition to serving as president and CEO, DeLaney is also on the bank’s board of directors and she sits on several committees, including the bank management loan committee, the board of director’s loan committee and the bank’s managing committee. Sun West Bank’s primary customer base is small and medium-sized businesses, particularly in the construction, manufacturing, trade and professional sectors. The bank puts great emphasis on business lending.
In her capacity as president and CEO, DeLaney holds the honor of being the first female community bank president in the state. She was responsible for efforts to set up the corporation for Sun West Bank, which now has offices on West Flamingo Road and Sun City Summerlin, with plans to expand to the Green Valley/Henderson area and possibly Northern Nevada in the near future. DeLaney is also responsible for oversight of all areas of the bank, including: corporate and board matters; shareholder reporting; strategic planning; financial budget recommendations; reporting and growth management; investment opportunities and overall administrative operations.
“I really didn’t run into roadblocks,” said DeLaney of her efforts to get the bank operational. “It was a significant challenge to file the bank application, which is an extensive process, but it was a fairly fast organization. We filed the application in February of 1998, received approval in May and opened in July, which was the soonest we could get the physical aspects in place.”
DeLaney is proud of the fact that the bank was able to open with such a large amount of capital available. She attributes the success of the bank to her own level of experience, as well as that of her board and management team. “I wanted to be able to come out of the chute at a size to be able to make a difference for customers in the marketplace,” DeLaney said. “There is great value in having a large capital base.”
According to DeLaney, community banks, and Sun West in particular, are gaining popularity in the local community. “I get calls every day from large bank customers who are looking for customized services,” DeLaney said. “Larger banks may offer cutting-edge technology, which is fine, but it is costly to do that research and development of products. It is important to stay abreast of what’s going on technologically, though. As we evaluate products and systems that make economical sense, we’ll offer them. We won’t be far behind.”
DeLaney also points to the importance of having a local bank with a local board of directors. “They have a commitment to the community and they know and understand the marketplace,” DeLaney said. “Across the board we have local decision-makers responding quickly to customers. They fully understand the needs of our client base.”
As for her status as the only female community bank president in the state, DeLaney takes the title in stride. She has noted that while the banking industry used to be typically male-dominated, more than 65 percent of bank employees are female, though traditionally, they tend to be in lower and middle management positions. “It’s an evolving industry for women,” DeLaney said. “The opportunities are there for them now, and I think more women need to pursue those opportunities. It was a challenge for me earlier in my career, when there wasn’t as much available, but I have been able to move quickly and develop my career. I believe you need to see it, believe it, and then go after it. You have to know you can do it.”