Mark Anders President & CEO BankAnnapolis

If BankAnnapolis is living up to its slogan, "not your normal bank," it could be because its president and chief executive officer, Mark Anders, is not your normal banker. When Anders first came to Annapolis National Bank in 1999, he sat down with the board of directors to discuss opportunities that he felt existed in the market for a community bank. He presented the board with a list of six items that he thought the bank needed to do. Number six was, "Have fun." Anders often wonders, of all the things that were on that list, which one of them was really defining in terms of the reason that they chose him over the other candidates. He's pretty sure it was number six.

"I think fun has to be an important component of what we do," Anders says. "This has to be a place that people enjoy coming to---not only customers but employees. And the more fun that you can create, the better your chances are of creating loyalty in terms of your employees and loyalty in terms of your customers. And that is what, ultimately, is going to define our success."

Anders hails from Washington, D.C., where his father worked as a special agent for the FBI. He attended Towson University and was very involved in college life all four years, from running the orientation programs to serving as resident assistant in his dorm. "I had planned on going into student personnel and working in a college or university environment," Anders says. "The second semester of my junior year, I woke up and realized that I didn't want to babysit college students for the rest of my life and I needed to be thinking somewhat differently about my career." Anders graduated cum laude in 1976 with a double major in business and economics. He got a job in the audit department of American Security Bank in Washington, D.C., and later moved to the commercial lending area where he spent most of his career. He left American Security Bank in 1985 and worked for Maryland National for the next six years. His introduction to community banking came in 1991 when he decided to join a friend who was asked to come in and run the Bank of Maryland. Eventually, that institution was sold and Anders went to work for another community bank, Sterling Bank and Trust in Baltimore. The bank had been through a failed merger and their CEO had left. Anders was asked to come in and reposition it. He put together a new management team and corrected a lot of problems the bank was having. However, it, too, ended up in a sale in 1999. "The one paradox that I think you deal with in this business is that if you create something that is of really high quality, people are going to want to buy it," Anders says.

After two of those experiences in community banking, Anders began wondering whether banking was still a good career option at all. "I took some time off, spent some time with the family and weighed my options as to the kinds of things I was really interested in," he recalls, "and what I came back to is that I love banking. I love helping really small businesses achieve some of their goals and ambitions, and the only place that you can really do that, in my opinion, is in a small community bank."

When the opportunity arose to join Annapolis National Bank, Anders felt that its goals were similar to his goals of wanting to create a high quality, "high touch" kind of community bank. He signed on in October of 1999.

In late 2000, Annapolis National converted its charter from a national bank charter to a state bank charter and became BankAnnapolis. "It gave us a wonderful opportunity to re-brand ourselves, create a new image for ourselves in the community," Anders says.

The business community of Annapolis, Anders feels, has not been well-served by the mergers and consolidations that have taken place in the banking industry. "I think there's a wonderful opportunity for a community bank to work with those small businesses," Anders says, "to provide them the kinds of personal service that they have grown to expect from their bank."

Anders is quick to share the credit. "There are a lot of people who make what you do every day important," he says. "The tellers downstairs on the teller line have as much influence on what happens in this bank as I do. The attitude that they project to the customer in that transaction that they are processing is what makes or breaks us."

The challenge for Anders has been not only in finding the right people to be able to deliver that kind of "high touch" personal service, but to train everyone in the organization, from top to bottom, that the customer really is who must be considered first.

A large part of being a community bank, Anders believes, is a commitment to giving back to that community through involvement with local charitable causes. "If we're not participating in those aspects of the community beyond what's in it for us, we are not fulfilling our mission," Anders says. "We don't want to become so diluted that we don't have any direct influence on what is happening. So, we have tried to narrow our focus down to a couple of areas." The YMCA of Anne Arundel County, CASA and Hospice of the Chesapeake have been beneficiaries of BankAnnapolis' generosity.

Board of directors chair Richard Lerner points out that a lot of managers get caught up in putting out daily fires that arise and don't take the time to step back and see the big picture. "Mark is someone with broad vision," he says. "He understands banking, has long experience in the business, knows it inside and out and has a clear vision as to where he wants to take this bank going forward."

While Anders' philosophy is to have fun, his goal is more specific: to make every single customer an advocate for the bank. "And when I do that," he says, "I have just leveraged my sales force by 10,000 people. Are we there yet? Not by a far shot. But that's why it's a journey and not a destination."


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

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