Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read May 2021 — Mike Jones, Huntington National Bank’s chair for Minnesota and Colorado, spoke to Invest: about the recent merger with TCF Bank, a move that will allow for more investment in technology. He also discusses some of the forces shaping the current environment for banks.
How has demand for your services shifted over the past year?
I think that if you look at legacy TCF, which has been in the Twin Cities market since 1923, we’ve had a rich history of being a strong retail bank focused on the consumer and the consumer aspects of banking. Through the merger with Huntington Bank, we now have the capabilities to do more within the realm of SBA lending, business banking, middle-market lending and wealth management. Our focus has been on how to take that ecosystem of helping businesses be successful — an area in which Huntington Bank established themselves as experts over the last several years — and bring that westward, to the Chicago market, to the Minnesota market. So, that’s what our focus has been: how can we build out and deliver those capabilities and talent to the Twin Cities community. We want to expand the product base in wealth management and middle-market lending, SBA lending. The demand for our services is evolving.
How are low interest rates affecting your operations?
We’re impacted by the low-rate environment just as all banks are. Where we’ve been successful is around our mixed-lending products, an area where we are adding a significant amount of value for our customers and where we don’t have to compete on price. So, that helps. We provide a broader value proposition in some of those niche markets. We have business segments that support us despite whatever fluctuations in interest rates there may be, such as specialty finance, capital solutions, our leasing and equipment finance, and our inventory finance business, where we are helping manufacturers and their dealer networks. That enables us to be successful as we go through the different interest rate cycles.
How would you describe the reaction to the merger between TCF and Huntington Bank?
I think the market has reacted positively. The market realizes that scale really matters in banking. It enables us to invest more in technology as we roll forward. This coming together enables us to provide more capabilities to our customers. From a market perspective, it has been received well. I think you’re going to continue seeing this kind of consolidation as customers want to see more technology working in their banking experience. These types of innovations require scale and size.
What is your view of liquidity in the marketplace?
There’s been a significant amount of stimulus injected into the marketplace and quite a bit of that is sitting in banks. I think people have been cautious coming out of the pandemic. People are saving more and placing that in banks. I think you’re also seeing commercial clients saving more cash and seeing what the consumer does. Those three factors have provided quite a bit of liquidity that is sitting in the banking system.
Were regional banks prepared for the PPP loans program?
We approached it by trying to help as many people in the community as we could. At TCF, prior to the merger with Huntington, we successfully did that digitally. From start to finish, we set up a digital process to make it easier for customers to get through that. The regulations did change as we went through it, which meant that everybody was trying to figure it out as they were going through the process. Everybody — the government, the community and the financial institutions — all had an eye on the customer with an end to making the process easy for them.
What is your bank’s approach to digital transformation?
People first, digitally powered, is what we say at Huntington. I believe that, as we go forward, we need to make it so that our customers can bank when and where they please. We must enable them to self-serve digitally. Digital interactions for us have increased significantly on a year-over-year basis, not only through digital transactions but also with customers opening a relationship with us digitally. I think that is only going to be more prominent as we move forward. We need to make sure that we’re staying on top of that as we continue to service our customers’ needs.
For more information, visit: https://www.huntington.com/