Banking Q&A: How Can a Robust Banking Relationship Propel Your Business?

Jeff Watts, Head of Corporate Banking for Florida & Alabama at Valley Bank, shares his expertise

Q&A: How a strong banking relationship can help drive your business

Selecting a banking partner for your business can open up a wide range of opportunities for your future. We spoke with Miami-based Jeff Watts, Head of Corporate Banking for Florida & Alabama at Valley Bank, who has worked to build and lead teams of quality bankers for Bank Leumi, Valley Bank and prior institutions.

We asked him about how business owners can identify these top banking professionals and why it pays to put relationships first.

Q: In a fast-paced market like South Florida, what should businesses look for in a banking partner?

In my experience, the most talented and trusted bankers in the marketplace have a similar goal.

Their approach is grounded in investing the time to deeply understand a company’s business model (i.e., how the business works, its competitive advantages, risks, etc.), and from there to offer advice and recommend solutions to support the specific needs and objectives of the company. At Valley, our go-to market strategy calls for this type of approach.

Q: What key skillsets do you look for in your teams and how does that help business customers?

I look for bankers who align with what business owners are looking for in a long-term banking partner. First and foremost, that means we want bankers who have experience and expertise in the dominant industries across the markets we serve (from Miami-Dade up to Palm Beach County and across the state of Florida). Valley has bankers with decades of experience in wholesale trade, commodity trade finance and technology, among other industries. For the broader businesses community representing a wide array of industries in our markets, I look for bankers who are curious, ask thoughtful questions and listen with great intention. Bankers like our new Miami Corporate Banking Leader, Carlos Ramos, who can offer needs-based solutions that add value.

Q: How has the recent completion of the acquisition of Bank Leumi US by Valley Bank impacted your teams?

The acquisition has had an exceptionally positive impact on our teams. Our Corporate Banking team is now comprised of both Valley and legacy Leumi bankers. We’ve also added excellent new talent from outside of the organization. Our teams are excited by how Valley can now better serve the entire business community across our footprint. The combined team’s capabilities and lines of business are extremely complementary, which allows our bankers to create more value for the businesses we serve.

Q: Any business wants to ensure that its banking partner will stay around, but there seems to be a lot of folks moving around in the banking industry these days. What does Valley do to attract and retain its top talent?

It is critically important to focus on a couple of key elements. A healthy and vibrant corporate culture is crucial. This means fostering an inclusive environment of meaningful employee engagement, wide team involvement in forming strategy, recognition programs and attractive rewards for performance. Another key element is for an institution to consistently make investments in order to remain competitive in the future. Our industry continues to experience massive change and we must stay ahead of the curve.

With respect to Valley, I feel grateful and privileged to say we check all these boxes. This has paid off in dividends as it relates to attracting and retaining quality talent. Not only have we built an excellent team over the past four years, but since the acquisition closed nearly two months ago, we have added even more top talent to serve our customers.

– Valley National Bank is a Member of the FDIC and Equal Opportunity Lender.

SFBW Staff
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