William Harvey Jr. was named interim president and CEO of Northwest Bank after Ronald Seiffert died unexpectedly in late May.
Harvey, who is Northwest’s chief financial officer, has been with the bank for 26 years.
Pennsylvania-based Northwest has 22 branches in the Buffalo Niagara region, and a regional office in Amherst with 200 employees.
Harvey talked about how he is guiding the bank as interim CEO, and Buffalo’s significance to Northwest:
Q: How are you leading Northwest as interim CEO?
A: Fortunately, Ron had his vision and had developed and laid out a strategic plan. And we have been in execution phase for probably 18 months or two years. Everybody has our marching orders. It’s just a matter of making sure keep in the same direction and keep with the vision that’s been laid out ahead of us.
Q: What impact did Ron Seiffert make on Northwest?
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A: With Ron’s background in commercial lending – he came from Huntington [Bank], and JPMorgan – he had some bigger bank experience. What he really brought the organization was a focus on lending.
I always said, it was a great balancing act with he and I. He brought that experience and that vision; I’ve been here 26 years, so I was like a sounding board for him: what may work, what may not work. … I was able to give him some insight there and tell him those things.
Q: How is the Buffalo market working out for Northwest?
A: Buffalo is one of our key markets, if not the key market. … It really is one of our largest commercial lending hubs. … We continue to see that as a major focus of ours.
Q: Looking back, what was the effect of acquiring the First Niagara branches in 2016?
A: It was really transformational, because we got almost $2 billion in deposits, but the relationships we got with it were immeasurable. Having that bigger presence, I think people started taking us more seriously that, “Hey, Northwest is here to stay.” It just opened the doors.
We think our size and our expertise is perfect. We’re large enough to be able to provide any product and service that anybody needs or wants, but also feel like we’re small enough to be able to continue to maintain that small community bank feel from a service perspective.
Q: How have rising interest rates affected customer borrowing?
A: We haven’t seen the impact yet, haven’t seen it slow down yet. … At some point, it’s going to affect what consumers can afford. But we haven’t seen that yet.