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January eNewsletter from Howard Bank CEO, Mary Ann Scully…

January 29th, 2013 | Posted by Mary Ann Scully in Uncategorized

January is named for the Roman god Janus – the two headed (as opposed to two faced) god of beginnings and endings.  Supposedly, he is the original reason why we all make New Year’s resolutions – to shape and guide the beginning.  However, we all know how New Year’s resolutions go – health club memberships soar with no worries on the part of their owners that they may have a capacity problem in March; diet companies sell lots of pre-packaged plans but obesity still moves up to become a top killer; and businesses put forward plans that are full of good intentions to do better this year – but often by doing the same things that did not work last year.  It might be convenient to make these types of resolutions as the ball drops but it means that what Janus sees ahead is likely to be the same as what he sees behind.  The ultimate trip on a treadmill. Why is that?

Maybe these disconnects recur because we forget that Janus also represents endings or closure and that to understand the future, we must spend some time reflecting on the past.  Reflect first, then resolve.

As Howard Bank reflects on 2012, we see a year of successes as shown in our yearend earnings release – loans up 17%, deposits up 20%, transaction deposits up 55%, and income up 17%.  We crossed the $400 million in assets threshold – all driven organically through some very tough years for banking.  We successfully raised $10 million in the equity markets to fund future growth – organic and acquired – and we listed our stock on NASDAQ after becoming an SEC registered company.  We also began work on our first branch in Baltimore County to complement our two locations in Annapolis and our four locations in Columbia and Ellicott City.  Click here to view our Earnings Report 2012.

But reflection is not just about the what, but about the why.  So when we look back and reflect, we are thankful to our stakeholders – shareholders who supported the capital raise, board and management leadership who had the courage to move forward rather than just “hunker down” as some others in the industry did, employees who delivered the Howard Bank value proposition every day, and clients who honored us by seeking our advice and support to help them achieve their dreams.  We have been successful because we chose good partners.  These stakeholders are our strategic partners – and our long-term goals are aligned with their long-term goals.

With this strong foundation in place, and the reflection that our foundation has been built by a community of strategic partners, we now resolve to continue along a path of greater and greater impact.

When we started the bank almost nine years ago, we did so to have an impact: on our shareholders through capital growth and eventually market recognition of that growth, on our colleagues through a sense of meaning, accomplishment and legacy as the best award for hard work and shared expertise, on our customers as they grow and achieve their dreams and on the communities in which they – and we – live and thrive. We will continue to do that.  But it is not just more of the same.  If reflecting must be about what and why then the resolutions need to be about what and how.  So we also resolve to increase our impact by refining the how – by keeping the good that is critically important and subtracting the good that distracts from our mission.  That may sound funny – keep the good and subtract the good.  But if we are to increase our impact we must continually focus on what most helps our strategic partners – customers, employees, shareholders – and subtract out the activities that may be “good” but do not support these goals. Good strategy and better execution are as much about what we do not do as they are about what we do.  It is all about alignment.  So we keep “sharpening the saw” as the late Stephen Covey counseled, so that our advice is good, our expertise continues to grow and our impact is stronger.

Those are our reflections (thank you to our stakeholders) and those are our resolutions (choose wisely as we grow).

I leave you with a few questions to accompany these thoughts.

Have you reflected on your own strategic partnerships over these past difficult financial and economic years?  Have you resolved to do business with partners with whom you have an alignment – both an affinity and a commitment to you?  If not, why?  Is it inconvenient?   It’s ultimately your choice.  Do you want your own Janus to see a brighter 2013 or the same clouded 2012?

If, upon reflection, you resolve to only work with partners whose interests are aligned with yours, we are a great alternative.  And if you need help to reduce any inconvenience, just call and we will come to you.

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