With Trustar Bank's launch in July, Shaza Andersen took the helm of the Washington area's first de novo in more than a decade, according to the Washington Business Journal.
The Great Falls, Virginia-based community bank's opening comes about a year and a half after Andersen sold WashingtonFirst Bank, which she founded in 2004, to Sandy Spring Bank for $489 million.
"Many of our former customers and employees started to reach out to me and were asking when we would do it again," Andersen said on the impetus for the new venture. "There became such a demand. It was very exciting and gave me confidence that we could not only do it again, but do it faster and even better than before."
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
BANKING DIVE: What are the biggest challenges for de novo banks?
SHAZA ANDERSEN: The biggest challenges that I've seen de novo banks struggle with are the ability to raise capital and also getting the right team in place to operate and grow the bank. The ability to raise capital says a lot about the market's confidence in you, your team and the actual need for another bank. I think that has proven to be a challenge for many who are trying to bring de novo banks to market. In addition, getting the right team together is critical. It's one thing to have a plan and entirely another to successfully execute that plan. Experience matters.
What kind of relationship does your bank have with regulators?
ANDERSEN: We work closely with our regulators, both at the state and national levels. The support of our regulators was an important part of our ability to move quickly and have the success that we have had. We invest in our relationship and they are an important part of our team. In addition to maintaining close working relationships with our regulators, we also monitor and participate in industry events and roundtables.
The House Financial Services Committee recently released data that shows top banks in the U.S. lack diversity in leadership. What needs to be done to change that?
ANDERSEN: We are making progress on the path to diversity but certainly have more work to do. I think, by focusing on developing talent and building diverse and inclusive teams, we can help prepare people to take on leadership roles as they progress in their careers. Over time, that investment will pay off as more and more diverse candidates are prepared for leadership roles.
What kind of growth do you hope to achieve with Trustar Bank?
ANDERSEN: We are aggressive and want to achieve aggressive growth goals. We've gotten off to a fast start, which further reflects the excitement of the market in the opening of our bank and the support of our customers. I'm excited and expecting big things. We will continue to drive organic growth and, over time, begin to look at opportunities that make sense to consider from an acquisitional perspective.
How do you plan to invest in technology in the next year?
ANDERSEN: As a de novo, we have the luxury of putting in place best-in-class systems and technology to best serve our customers. As an operating principle, we are always evaluating technology to make certain we have the right mix to deliver the best service to our customers. I also think that it's important to understand that banking is very much a relationship business. Technology plays a critical role, and is a key enabler in driving customer service. But technology does not take the place of developing, maintaining and growing relationships.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
ANDERSEN: Have a plan. I'm a planner, and the best advice I've ever received and given is to have a plan and work your plan. Following this advice has proven invaluable and helps to keep our team together and enables us to move quickly and grow aggressively.