May 4, 2017

By Kenneth R. Gosselin

KeyCorp CEO Focusing On Growth In Connecticut 

KeyCorp’s chief executive Beth Mooney Thursday fired up Connecticut employees with enthusiasm to build the bank in a state that is slow-growing, and she pledged to business owners and civic leaders to establish a strong presence in the community.

But in a swing through Connecticut, Mooney also came with another ambitious goal in mind in the next three to five years. She won’t settle for remaining the eighth-largest bank in the state.

“We need to move a few spots up,” Mooney said. “It’s important for us to be in the top five.”

KeyCorp, the Ohio-based parent of Key Bank, entered Connecticut for the first time last year, after acquiring First Niagara Financial Corp. in a deal valued at $3.7 billion.
The deal gave Mooney a Connecticut franchise of $4.1 billion in deposits, 76 branches and about 600 employees — and the challenge to establish itself in a market dominated by well-established names such as Bank of America, People’s United and Webster.

Mooney said Key has been able to improve upon First Niagara’s digital technology and products, demanded by both consumers and business customers. The cost of upgrading its technology was one of the reasons why First Niagara sought out a merger partner.

There are plenty of challenges in a state like Connecticut where the economy has struggled to add jobs and the fiscal health of state government in precarious. And for a bank to expand the size of a bank’s loan and deposit portfolio, it has meant wooing business away from competitors.

Mooney believes Key is up to the task. She is excited about a financial planning product “HelloWallet” for consumers that helps track household budgets and savings to determine if they can afford large purchases. The product also examines insurance needs and retirement savings.
In commercial lending, Mooney also sees opportunity in Connecticut with a stable of strong, old-line companies and newer, small businesses.

Mooney was accompanied on her visit by Jeff L. Hubbard, president of Key’s Connecticut and western Massachusetts operations and commercial banking sales leader.

Hubbard said Connecticut is seeing some commercial growth. For instance, Key is trying to win a financing deal for a company that has won a new contract and needs to finance equipment. Key is going up against a half-dozen other lenders seeking the same deal.

“We are seeing some pockets of growth, and that is exciting to see,” Hubbard said.

In Connecticut, Key would have to add $2.7 billion in deposits to break into the top five largest banks, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. A tall order maybe, but a goal and a point of accomplishment.

“We always point to our markets where we are in the top five,” Mooney said.