Spotlight On: Tom O’Connor, Market President & Senior Director – Middle Market Banking, Synovus Bank

Spotlight On: Tom O’Connor, Market President & Senior Director – Middle Market Banking, Synovus Bank

2022-12-02T14:38:06-05:00December 2nd, 2022|Banking & Finance, Nashville, Spotlight On|

2 min read December 2022 — Synovus Bank provides an array of financial services, ranging from commercial and retail banking to mortgage services through over 200 branches. Invest: spoke with Tom O’Connor, senior director for Middle Market Banking, about the bank’s recent transition, the impact from the changes in market conditions, cybersecurity and initiatives with the community.

You started your current position with Synovus Bank in mid-2022. How has it been thus far?

Every day I become more bullish about who we are at Synovus as our organization aligns well culturally and with my purpose. Our organization has been entrepreneurial, especially in commercial and middle-market banking, which is my focus. We are integrating all lines of business in Nashville to make sure we’re in constant communication both internally and with our clients. Our team has numerous smart, hardworking individuals, from management staff down the ladder where everybody’s opinions matter, which is imperative for our long-term success. 

Synovus has made important investments in technologies to build our platform in such a manner that when we and our clients grow, our platform will allow for continual service in a capacity that meets their needs while anticipating what’s to come. On the treasury side of the business, we continue to build out a world class platform to support the growing needs of our clients.  We are also involved with new platforms like Maast, which allows for “embedded finance” for clients. Nashville is an important market for Synovus and we want to ensure steady growth in that regard.

Where are you noticing a high demand for services?

We are focused on building and seeing growth in multiple key areas: middle market and commercial banking, private and wealth, healthcare investment banking, CRE, mortgage, and our retail platform. Nashville continues to maintain a strong diverse economy, which leads to a lot of great opportunities to help provide financial advice and services to our clients and prospects.

How have the changes in the economy and market conditions impacted your team’s operations?

Thus far, loan demand remains steady. We’ve been fortunate to have a healthy pipeline of business, with most of our clients performing very well. From a bank standpoint, in our third quarter, we had notable credit quality metrics that will propel us through a recessionary period. 

When short-term interest rates rise, there’s typically a lag in curbing inflation due to previously financed fixed rate debt at lower rates holding many large fixed costs steady. We are starting to see some of the supply-chain challenges begin to improve, but in the area of the workforce supply there are still some labor issues, but that may ease up if we see an economic slowdown. In Nashville and Middle Tennessee, we’ve been quite fortunate because the loan demand has maintained its momentum due to our diverse economy and region; however, how long it will last is the million-dollar question.

What stands out regarding cybersecurity?

It’s an ever-changing landscape, but we must continue to educate our clients about cybersecurity because being aware is the best option to reduce your risk. We provide insights regarding emails and texts, how to spot discrepancies and what actions to follow when this occurs. Other measures are cybersecurity training, pretend phishing emails, and utilizing fraud tools in the cash management process. We have product offerings such as Positive Pay, ACH Block/Filter, Dual Control, etc. to help reduce the chance of fraud. Virtually every bank’s using these product offerings but it is paramount to create continuous awareness and conversations around fraud and cybersecurity. 

What partnerships or initiatives between Synovus and the community would you highlight?

Speaking globally, we recently donated $250,000 to Junior Achievement USA and together we’ll find ways to spread those dollars throughout our five-state footprint. In Nashville, we’ve been conversing with the team at Junior Achievement to assist and put together a local Synovus team to teach classes centered around life skills, financial literacy and aspects around those topics.

In addition to that, we have Raise the Banner, our financial education program focused on empowering individuals to make confident financial decisions to reach their economic goals. We do this in collaboration with our teammates using a program by the FDIC called Money Smart, nonprofit organizations, schools, and universities. It’s about ensuring people get the necessary education regarding financial literacy. 

We are also focused on things that will help provide economic stability and prosperity for our community by engaging in social and human advocacy. We want to remain good stewards of our community by creating positive community awareness, actively serving on boards, and helping our clients achieve their financial goals. 

What is your outlook for Nashville in terms of growth and banking over the next five years?

Nashville and Synovus are well-positioned in this market for continued growth, and it all falls back to Nashville’s diverse and resilient economy. We’ll continue to see large, medium, and small organizations move to Nashville, which continues to fuel our economy and talent in the region. From a banking standpoint, it’ll remain hypercompetitive. Hiring and retaining top talent will be critical in terms of how we succeed, which is the main challenge in this market for financial institutions. Our focus over the next couple of years will center around talent, ensuring there’s the right talent pool internally at Synovus by concentrating on recruiting and retaining our current talent. 

Specific to Nashville, Synovus has a great opportunity and we’re looking to grow our market share exponentially. We’re one of the best-kept secrets here and it’s our job to educate our community about who we are and what we do. We will have strong community involvement, actively engaging our clients and prospects while helping our community be the best possible place it can be.  We continue to focus on being consultative with our clients and prospects vs. just selling services.  We couldn’t be more excited about Nashville and Middle TN.

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