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Amid pandemic, banker reflects on experiences from years past, from hurricanes to real estate collapse

Kevin Hagan is the president of Englewood Bank & Trust and Crews Bank & Trust.

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  • | 4:30 p.m. June 17, 2020
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Executive: Kevin Hagan, president

Bank: Englewood Bank & Trust and Crews Bank & Trust

Working situation: We were and are seeing clients by appointment and, if availability allows, if someone should walk up to the door. Leaders within the bank felt it was important for us to be in our office/branch versus working entirely from a secure and remote location. However, there are some support positions that were able to move to a remote workspace. We accomplished this “new” direction within a day or two. There were various reasons to do so: underlying health issues or just reducing the number of people in a small area to accommodate social distancing. It has worked out tremendously. After a few weeks, many of us adapted to a split of my day: in the office first thing in the morning then remote in the afternoon. With all the new tools, like Microsoft Teams, it has not negatively impacted the personal communication we strove to maintain. … We made it work.

Biggest working situation challenge: Maintaining the camaraderie and communication needed to ensure every team member’s needs are being met in order to maintain the platform to serve our customers. 

Most important business lesson you've learned in the shutdown: How adaptable the customer/consumer is when encountering a new or unknown challenge for the first time. Within the banking industry, there are required plans in place for a pandemic, just no historic experience for something this broad. I saw and heard the best in people — kindness at every turn, understanding and a new level of patience.

How far out into the future are you looking for the bank? One minute from now and as far out into the future as we can. No crystal ball, monitoring various sources of data and reflecting on experiences that impacted our markets in years past: hurricanes, red tide, economic downturns and the real estate collapse. Now we all are watching (and learning from) various medical stats, updates on new technologies and phased actions plans from multiple industries.

How will a prolonged economic downturn impact your bank? Honestly, slightly apprehensive about answering this question specific to COVID-19 — it infers an economic downturn will occur. Everyone has a different time frame attached to a downturn, from weeks to many years. Englewood Bank & Trust and Crews Bank & Trust both survived the last economic downturn, which lasted years beyond expectations. We are part of a family of four banks with Florida roots back to 1929. There have been many challenges through the decades. Understand, they may not have the same name, but there are similar impacts. COVID-19 is the new challenge. No matter the “prolonged” impact, we have seasoned ourselves to minimize risks in the past. This is something we talk about regularly. Managing our risk, along with providing premier service to our customers, is the greatest attribute we are tasked to accomplish for the benefit of everyone and our communities.

What steps can regulators take to free up banks to do more lending? Continue to work with FBA and other trade associations, listen to their banks, remain flexible/adaptable and communicate regularly. The goal is always to serve the needs of our communities while maintaining the safety and soundness of the financial industry.

How do you maintain your spirit/morale during these tumultuous times? Avoid ever looking or sounding like Chicken Little. Talk to your folks, provide regular updates, and celebrate the small stuff. And yes, providing celebratory lunch to your team goes a long way.

Books, articles, TV shows, podcasts and/or audiobooks you’ve focused on: I have avoided filling my time with repetitive negativity. One story is enough — I try not to pile on myself with 10 more versions of the same. If you are a reader, there is no doubt you should have flashbacks to certain books/characters that have dealt with times like this — some may even be found in a high school textbook. We need to train our minds to be positive [and] don’t dwell. Realize that though the challenge may have a different name, it is not the first time humanity has had to overcome such hardships.

Exercise or stress relief you’ve turned to during the crisis: My wife has been asking me to take an evening walk for 15-plus years. I always provided the same response: “Too hot, too humid, why, please don’t make me.” At best, I only agreed on a handful of occasions. Here we are three-plus months later, and we average over 4 miles per evening. I think we missed maybe seven days since early March — love a good afternoon storm. I can’t wait to see the outcome of my blood tests from the next physical.

Last trip out of the house: Other than for basic needs, none. On the bright side, I have one planned: fishing in the Keys for three days next week with a few friends. And yes, I will wear a mask. I’ve been wearing buffs since they hit the market when out on the water.

What are you most looking forward to post-lockdown/pandemic? The lasting effects of the personal kindness that has been displayed. I find irony in the fact that what keeps us apart (social distancing) has brought us closer together.


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