Growth Minded
Meridian Bank is ushering in a new era of banking by fostering a new generation of talent
by Jocelyn Murray

If asked to imagine a banker, many people would conjure the mascot of the board game Monopoly. That’s understandable, considering the fact that banking has traditionally been seen as a stodgy profession, one done by white-haired men in suits.

That stereotype is now being challenged by a new generation bent on reinvigorating the banking business from the ground up.

Meridian Bank, one of the area’s leading personal commercial-lending groups, is utilizing a unique management strategy to help develop top talent. Many of its newest and fastest-advancing employees, in fact, are young adults, fresh out of school and excited to start their careers and make a difference.

“Upper management is key in helping the bank run and developing the younger employees,” says Jason Rose, a cash-management specialist at the bank. He left his job at a bigger, nationally known bank to take advantage of the potential offered by Meridian. “I got tired of the bigger-bank environment. It was hard to advance and it wasn’t as personal. At Meridian there is room for growth. … You don’t just get pigeonholed in one place for five or six years. There are a lot of opportunities.”

Rose describes Meridian as being “hands on right from the start,” where younger employees benefit from the experience of the company’s more senior members. “The management at the bank is very experienced,” he says. “They are also really good at teaching. I’ve learned a lot from different people at the bank in different areas.”

Jason Sheehan, a real estate loan officer at Meridian, likes the fact that Meridian encourages the enthusiasm and passion the younger generation has brought with it. “It might be a young person looking to prove [themselves] and make a name, and they allow you to do that,” he says.

Sheehan, a Penn State business finance major who grew up in Coatesville, is a driven young man who enjoys running 5ks and playing basketball. He began his career with Meridian as an intern during his sophomore year, when he assisted with office management.

“I was always great with numbers and math, but when I went to college I developed an interest in architecture,” Sheehan says. After graduation he applied with the bank and was drawn to the real estate division, where he earned a position as a loan officer and now enjoys helping customers secure financing for their properties. Recently married, he is now looking to buy a home of his own.

“[Meridian] gives you a lot of responsibility up front, and if you’re good at it you can move up the ladder relatively quickly,” he says. “The young talent is very well poised to succeed because of management with big-bank experience. They really help to shape where we’re going to end up.”

He also appreciates being able to work in an environment that is so interested in technology. Meridian, he believes, has “a vision of the future and the proactive steps we can take to stay ahead of the curve.”

Defying Tradition
In addition to the many learning opportunities Meridian affords to its employees, the bank’s unique business model provides tools and a customer interface that younger employees feel comfortable with as they look to provide service as thoroughly and effectively as they can.

“I have to say one of the first things [I appreciate] would be the business model,” says Rose. “It is completely different than traditional banking.” At Meridian, which deals primarily in commercial lending, there are no ATMs, no drive-up windows and no conventional teller windows. Instead Meridian combines face-to-face interaction with technology to provide its clients with personalized and convenient service.

“One of the fascinating things about Meridian is their ability to do things in the most efficient manner,” Rose continues. “We’re looking for the best way for our customers to do their banking with as little impact on their day-to-day basis as possible.” His position with Meridian involves working with technologies such as its remote deposit check scanning and credit-card-processing services, doing his part to offer customers what he calls “the power to do everything from their office.”

“They can do their banking from a remote location,” adds Marc McDonough, a corporate banking associate at Meridian. “When they leave [their business] it costs them money; dealing with the bank over the phone and electronically is much easier. It’s all about our responsiveness and our intimate relationship with the business owner. Their banker really understands the core of their business.”

Meridian’s original slogan, in fact, was “Entrepreneurial. Like you.” explains Jessica Annas, the marketing projects manager at Meridian. “We actively seek out business customers with great ideas,” she says. “We’re excited to help them out, and we’re excited for what they want to do. If we believe in their idea we can often help them with financing when they’ve been turned down by other banks.”

McDonough, who played football at Susquehanna University while studying finance, values the teamwork that undergirds everything that Meridian does. “I was quickly integrated into the team here, and within three or four months I was giving presentations to committees that included the board of directors,” he says. “Not many people gain that kind of experience in their early 20s.

“The knowledge I’ve gained at Meridian is compensation itself, and what better way to learn than from the top executives themselves?” he continues. “I’m not stuck in some sort of module or online training; I can walk into the CEO’s office and get knowledge and insight from him. The learning curve is unmatched.”

With this knowledge, not only do Meridian employees have a chance to follow their own career dreams, but they are also better equipped to deliver the means to clients who are looking to do the same. Enthusiastic employees/successful customers: It’s been a winning formula for Meridian, which has grown steadily since its inception in 2004, and has just completed its second straight year of record earnings.

Meridian Bank
Corporate Headquarters
92 East Lancaster Ave.
Devon, PA 19333

Banking Offices
1776 East Lancaster Ave.
Paoli, PA 19301

16 West Market Street
West Chester, PA 19382

60 East Uwchlan Ave.
Lionville, PA 19341