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Business Observer Wednesday, Jun. 17, 2020 2 weeks ago

Banking leader takes inspiration from the mantra 'Keep Calm and Carry On'

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Adria Starkey is the Collier County president of FineMark National Bank & Trust.
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Executive: Adria Starkey, president Collier County

Bank: FineMark National Bank & Trust

Working situation: I have been in the office every day during this unprecedented pandemic. As a company we had 70% of our workforce operating remotely. I think we were all pleasantly surprised as to how well we functioned with so many of our employees working remotely.

Biggest working situation challenge: I missed seeing members of our team. We had to reach out and proactively contact people regularly because spontaneous “watercooler” conversations did not happen as often. I also missed seeing our clients come into the office.

Most important business lesson you've learned in the shutdown: Communication is crucial, and you can’t do enough. Also because of the constantly changing environment, transparency became more important than ever.

How far out into the future are you looking for the bank? As a leadership team we meet weekly (daily in March and April) and look at today, our month, our year and review our long-term projects. It is ongoing and has not changed due to the pandemic.

Has your bank done PPP loans? Yes. We had never made an SBA loan but knew we needed to help our clients. We made 516 loans, about $100 million and put 8,300 people back to work. Those jobs mattered to us. We made these loans to help our clients get people back to work.

How will a prolonged economic downturn impact your bank? The banking community in general will suffer from a prolonged economic downturn. Right now, we are busier than ever. Our client base is working hard to find worthwhile opportunities during this time.

What steps can regulators take to free up banks to do more lending? We do not feel that regulators have impeded our lending policies at this time. We want to be sure to not stretch in our credit decisions right now because our crystal ball has not told us how deep and how long this pull back will be. Strong balance sheets are important right now.

How do you maintain your spirit/morale during these tumultuous times? I feel very fortunate to work with an amazing team of people. They keep me upbeat every day. During the worst of days, more prayers than usual seemed to help. I hung onto the mantra "Keep calm and carry on." It felt like a war in the beginning, so that felt right for me.

Books, articles, TV shows, podcasts and/or audiobooks you’ve focused on: I am an avid reader, so many books and articles gave me comfort. I also really enjoy podcasts.

Exercise or stress relief you’ve turned to during the crisis: I am a huge fan of exercise. It is my stress relief. Although my gym and yoga studio closed, they provided great online classes. I also got outside to walk and ride my bike more than ever.

Last trip out of the house: I was blessed with a grandchild on March 5, so my only real trip out of the house was to visit with him. It has been amazing.

What are you most looking forward to post-lockdown/pandemic? I look forward to seeing my fellow teammates in Naples and our other offices. I also can’t wait to see our clients and friends. It has been a very long time!

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