A Message From Our President & COO

by Robert Kunisch 17. December 2015

President Rob Kunisch We’re nearing the end of our first full year under new leadership, a pivotal transition for 1st Mariner Bank. As President and COO of the bank, I get to see the evolution up close every day. We’ve shown very strong growth throughout the year, and we are proud to have the opportunity to report back on this positive progress to our customers and employees.

Excellence Across the Board

We are showing robust growth in commercial and industrial loans, as well as with our commercial and consumer mortgage offerings. Almost across the board, our loan and deposit growth is up. Our numbers are projecting a very strong finish for 2015.

In every department, our employees are working incredibly hard to make 1st Mariner’s continued growth a reality. Everyone is getting more comfortable with their role, and finding out how they can contribute to make 1st Mariner Bank better every day. We’ve seen and felt the atmosphere evolve into a more sales-focused environment, with more proactive cross-sales and referral goals.

We’ve seen an outstanding number of new commercial relationships. Most importantly this year, we’re seeing traction from the products and innovation we’ve been working so hard to develop. We work to foster the best banking practices so all of our customers have a positive, personal experience with 1st Mariner Bank.

All About Customer Experience

As a community bank, everything that we do is geared towards enhancing the customer experience. Our philosophy is to prove ourselves to our customers through actions, not just words. We strive to provide the best customer service and the best products, because that’s what our customers deserve.

The Random Acts of Kindness we’ve been doing all year in celebration of the Bank’s 20th anniversary has been a great success, for both the people we have been helping and 1st Mariner Bank internally. One of our favorite Acts was when Joe Flacco visited with a group of kids from the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Playing and interacting with the children was just as rewarding for Joe and our team as it was for the kids!

Connecting with the people of Baltimore in this way reinforces the Bank’s identity as a community center. When the name ‘1st Mariner Bank’ is heard in neighborhoods around Baltimore, we want people to feel a sense of trust, one that we earn through actions – not just words.

Making Improvements for 2016

This past year, we’ve identified issues, improved operating efficiencies in a number of departments and came together as a strong unit to keep the Bank moving forward. When we decided to become a part of this Bank, we saw it as an opportunity to grow. We were able to seize the opportunity and make proactive decisions to continue to build a high value institution for Baltimore.

One big improvement we have made and will continue to make in 2016 is refining our corporate culture. We think our employees have come a long way and have shown true commitment to being brand ambassadors for the newly restored image of the Bank. We’re communicating better internally and determined to keep momentum building off momentum – never becoming stale with the Bank’s identity or innovation.

With the momentum we’ve all worked so hard to keep up, we’re confident that we are heading into 2016 with full speed ahead. Many thought that we couldn’t achieve what we have in 3 years, and we did it in 18 months. We’ve earned a spot on a competitive field and are in a solid position to grow organically. Our strong finish from 2015 will catapult us into next year and give us a solid foundation to continue what we have started. The stronger you finish, the better you can be prepared for what comes next.

Persistence vs. Insanity

by Robert Kunisch 13. March 2015

Team Synergy Presents Their Case Solution

The difference between winning and losing business is often boiled down to basis points. A basis point is one-hundredth of 1%. To quantify it further, for every $10,000 we lend, we generate $1.00 in revenue for each basis point in interest we charge for a loan. Why does this matter, you ask? Because that is exactly how close Towson University’s “The Associate” competition is between teams Eminence and Synergy. In terms of basis points, the difference between the two teams is inconsequential and almost unmeasurable.

The score board tells a different story with team Synergy leading by a score of 3-0, but anyone who has observed the last three weeks of the competition could easily make the case that Team Eminence should be leading 3-0. This week’s challenge to produce a television ad for Merritt Athletic Clubs promoting zero enrollment fees and a family community lifestyle at their gyms left everyone in awe at the final product developed by the competing teams. In the end, the client, Merritt Athletic Clubs, picked the case presented by Synergy. It was a razor thin loss for team Eminence by mere basis points.

So what’s the takeaway? Sometimes in business you have a better proposal, a lower bid, a superior product, better customer service… and you still end up losing the business. When this happens – and it will – pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward. I was rejected by over 150 potential investors before I was able to raise $110 million to recapitalize 1st Mariner Bank. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. "Insane" was one of the kinder words people used to describe the likelihood of recapitalizing the bank.

Every time I was told that I was insane, I responded that I was persistent. Persistence is defined as firm continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. I guess Albert Einstein would say that there is a mere basis point difference between insanity and persistence.

Team Eminence will have to pick themselves up after last night and remain persistent in their pursuit of convincing Cintas (next week’s presenting company) that they have the best proposal to resolve Cintas’s case. Synergy can continue to bask in the glory of their 3-0 record, but a word of advice: it’s fun when you’re on top, but remember, there is always someone below you who wants to knock you down (a blog for another day).

Congratulations to both teams on another outstanding week.

See Also:

I Fired a Woman Yesterday

The Lesson I Learned from "The Associate" Week 2

The Lesson I Learned from "The Associate" Week 2

by Robert Kunisch 26. February 2015

The Associate Presentations

Do you want to win in business? Then listen to what the client wants and deliver a clear and concise proposal to meet their needs. It’s a simple concept, but it’s often forgotten. Too frequently we want to tell the client what their needs are and how we are going to resolve them our way. This week, the Towson University Associate program reminded me to look at how 1st Mariner is responding to our customer and prospect needs.

In week two of the competition, team Synergy and team Eminence locked horns in an epic battle to increase the brand awareness of Baltimore-based B’more Organic. B’more Organic has a great product with enormous benefits for the consumer. Their challenges are typical of a young growing company.

The rules of the game state that the presenting company, B’more Organic, reveals the issue that the teams must resolve. B’more Organic selects the winner. We (1st Mariner) have to fire a person on the losing team.

Here comes the lesson learned. The 1st Mariner judges believed that team Eminence had the better presentation. B’more Organic, the client, thought otherwise and selected team Synergy as the winner. B’more Organic explained that team Synergy met their needs better than the other team. We fell into the trap of liking a presentation despite what the client wanted.

The winners from the night were B’more Organic and team Synergy, but also 1st Mariner Bank for being reminded of a valuable lesson: ideas may be great, but if they fall short of client expectations then you won’t walk away as the winner.

Next up is Merritt Athletic Clubs, a well-known and respected Maryland company. Their case is materially different than that of B’more Organic. I hope team Synergy and team Eminence take note.

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