Phil Mantua

Mantua has worked at Sandy Spring Bancorp through turbulent times. Here he reflects on the wisdom he has gained along the way

Phil Mantua | Executive Vice President & CFO | Sandy Spring Bancorp
Phil Mantua | Executive Vice President & CFO | Sandy Spring Bancorp

You can’t be afraid to try things. You want to be true to who you are, but you learn by trying things you might not have done otherwise.

The industry is evolving. In banking, the level of regulation and compliance is high and increasing. The role of the branch is evolving, and while I don’t think branches will go away, I think they’ll need to be different, because younger generations prefer to do their banking in other ways.

I think I learned to step up in a crisis as a result of losing my mother when I was in high school. It probably made me grow up a lot faster. I was the oldest of four siblings and had to take on a different level of responsibility. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but it defined how I conducted myself going forward.

I want to leave this company in a better place than I found it. It drives what I do here every day. Now that we’ve come through the crisis, I want to grow the company even further.

We learned a lot from the crisis. We learned to be more careful about where we take risks, and are more diversified in our approach to lending in certain business lines and business segments.

Coming to work for Sandy Spring was a major turning point. I was initially responsible for managerial accounting, but I was ready to step into the CFO role when the position opened.

We took a $12 million loss right after I became CFO. We decided in the fourth quarter of 2004 that a leverage program designed to enhance our return on equity was too risky, and unwound it. That was hard, because we had to convince our board that it was the right thing to do, even though we’d never posted a quarterly loss before. But restructuring our balance sheet made the next three to four years some of the most profitable in our history.

If you can’t communicate with the people who work with you, from employees to board members, you can’t convince them to follow you. Hone those skills when possible.

If you fail, you fail. You learn more from mistakes than from your successes.

Because we’re very transparent in regard to financial governance and reporting, we successfully raised $100 million in capital in the spring of 2010 and were four times oversubscribed in terms of demand for our shares. Our transparency is a big part of what got us named a Forbes most-trustworthy company award winner three years in a row.

I think there will be fewer banks overall because of the need for efficiency gains with size. The payments area is also changing rapidly as companies outside the banking industry position themselves for a greater role in how money flows through our economy.