Business Guidance / Univest News

Why I Joined Univest After 18 Years with Another Bank

In April, I made the move to Univest as Market President for Maryland after spending 18 years at a well-known, mid-Atlantic bank with $150-plus billion in assets. I started with that bank right out of college, went through a management development program, climbed the corporate ladder and eventually oversaw business banking in the Baltimore region.

Since deciding to leave, I often hear the question: “Why? You had a great career and you’re still young with so much opportunity.”

The answer is pretty simple: Univest offers something very different to the Baltimore market. The consolidation of community banks over the years created a void of midsized, community focused banks that offer digital capabilities to serve the business community.

When Univest approached me about leading its expansion into Maryland, I was intrigued and inspired because there’s great potential for an integrated bank to make a real impact. When I looked at Univest as an organization, it has an employee-centric culture with a family feel, a foundation of serving and truly caring about giving back to the community as well as a strong commitment to digital technology – I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

Family Focus

That sense of family came up during the interview process while having lunch with Univest CEO, Jeff Schweitzer. I mentioned to him that one of the lessons I’ve learned from the pandemic was priorities and how to make more quality time with my family.

I have two kids who are five and seven years old. Before the pandemic, I left for work early in the morning, and missed many, if not most, of the early hours and breakfast times. After being home for two years, there have been some important changes including more quality time with my family. Most mornings, I enjoy breakfast with my kids and then we take the short two-minute walk to school for drop-off. This year it was my son and me and next year my daughter will join as she enters kindergarten at the same neighborhood school. I have come to treasure that time and wasn’t willing to give it up on a daily basis.

This came up at lunch with Jeff as we discussed kids, family, banking and lessons learned from the pandemic. I explained to Jeff that my biggest take away is that balance will be a key to my success in the future and time with my family is irreplaceable. I said to him, “We all make sacrifices for our careers, but there has to be balance. The days of me being gone before my kids get up are behind me. COVID made me realize that I didn’t have enough balance through the first couple decades of my career.”

Jeff looked at me and told me the story of his family, and how his approach in the mornings resembles my ideal environment. That’s the organization I choose to join, one that is human, one where the CEO may take a call from his car because he prioritized taking his kids to school.

Old School but New Age

Banking is simple, it’s a commodity. The way you deliver the commodity is what really matters. Univest stresses the importance of relationships and serving as a trusted advisor to our customers rather than simply selling a financial product. Univest’s model allows it to deliver a very cohesive experience that is forward-thinking with digital support, but still old-school in the way we personally relate to customers.

Banking is a very sensitive business because you’re dealing with people’s finances and the hopes and dreams for their business, family and future. Like any industry, banking has needed to evolve due to the technological expectations of customers, but what makes Univest unique is how its investment into technology is intended to augment our personal approach, not replace it.

Today’s banking technology can make the experience seem impersonal. Univest’s continued focus on people first and foremost will allow us to offer a new-age model in an environment that values the old school importance of relationships.

Caring for the Community

My goals with Univest are ambitious. I want to be the leading commercial bank in Baltimore and then Maryland within the next 10 years. Our success in the market will reflect our investment into relationships and how we show up for and in our communities.

If you’re a banker in Baltimore who is willing to work hard and be entrepreneurial, I want you to see Univest as the place you need to join — because this is where you can build a long, strong career while being part of a culture that focuses on showing up in the community and being a good corporate citizen.

My goal is to help businesses succeed. To leverage our collective networks to help them reach their goals. By joining Univest, I am certain that I have a greater ability to do that than ever before.

I’m curious to hear how the pandemic shifted your priorities and work life balance. Send me an email at cohenm@univest.net with your perspective.

Univest Bank and Trust Co. is Member FDIC, Equal Opportunity and SBA Preferred Lender.