Richard Beard, who goes by Rick, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of People’s Utah Bancorp and Bank of American Fork. Rick joined Bank of American Fork in 2004. In addition, he is currently serving as a member of the Board for the State of Utah Department of Financial Institutions, Utah Community Reinvestment Corporation (UCRC) and Chairman of Western Independent Bankers ‘Association. Rick has also served as an Executive Committee Member and is on the Board of Directors of the Utah Bankers Association.
Rick was born in Bountiful, Utah and grew up in a family of five. He received a Bachelors in Political Science from the University of Utah. In 1978 Rick received a Juris Doctor from the S.J. Quinney College of Law where he served as an Executive Board Member and Developments Editor of the Utah Law Review. Rick is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the American Bar Association and the Utah State Bar Association.
Rick developed more than 25 years of experience in the legal industry. He began his legal career at Parson’s & Crowther and subsequently moved to Ballard Spahr Andrew and Ingersoll where he served as partner for 8 years. Rick completed his law firm experience with Callister & Nebeker. His practice involved corporate law, mergers, acquisitions, securities practices and public company representation. Rick is passionate for building something that will last.
Creating a Vision & the Banking Industry
Banks in Utah generally have been owned by certain families for many years. Banks success relies on the CEO creating a process to sustain a working team. Vision, purpose, and values are created and will flow throughout the bank. Increasing revenue is not a vision, a vision identifies what you are. In banking, a vision comes down to how it allocates capital. Should the bank allocate capital to this business or that business? Banks do not take the same risk as venture capitalists and therefore seldom lend to start ups. In banking, decisions are best made at the lowest level that can be successfully made and management must be done at the local level. At the corporate level it is difficult to make decisions that benefit the front line. Loan officers that are a part of the community, have a better understanding of the local issues than larger banks with a national centralized credit policy. When the decision making process becomes national rather than community based, the overall decision making process deteriorates.
Creating stronger ties to the community creates a stronger network to the community. Everything that deals with the customer must be customer friendly. Rick has no desire for Bank of American Fork to become a large bank, rather his vision is to gather 2-3 community banks to come together and fund the communities of Utah. People’s Utah Bancorp, owning Bank of American Fork and Lewiston State Bank, is currently the largest community bank holdings company in Utah. The Banks have successfully operated for over 100 years. We need banks that will balance friendly customer service with competent service. Always start with a vision for what you really want before looking at the financial numbers required for success.
Top Lessons Learned
First, never fall in love with the deal, stay objective. It is easy to promote yourself, this is true whether you’re an attorney or financial analyst, remain objective. Often you put so much time and energy into a project that it is difficult to remain objective. If you are not objective, you ignore risk and hurry the project to completion. Ultimately that kind of project ends up failing. When you fall in love with a deal, your emotions cloud your judgment, you see the issues but it becomes easy to minimize them. Although there is wisdom in being committed, you must force yourself to slow down and see the whole picture and objectively understand each counterpart of the deal.
Second, surround yourself with bright people and do not be ego driven, hire people that are the best in their profession and find experts in each industry you need. You can’t know all the in-and-outs of everything, so surround yourself with the best people. When you are first starting out as an entrepreneur it is often difficult to afford a good team. Many times you will not be able to afford partners from law firms or accountants, but you must recognize the importance of starting with a good team. Do not discount this.
Third, establish trust with those you interact with. As the CEO, your organization must have a culture of trust, otherwise there is real dysfunction. A great book for entrepreneurs is “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”. The book outlines five dysfunctions that organizations face on a daily basis and one of those is trust. Executives must believe what the CEO is telling them. Executives must feel the passion, otherwise, Executives will only say what they think the CEO wants to hear, rather than what they truly believe. The basis for all communication is trust. CEOs, as leaders of their organization, must have integrity consistently applied and trust established where people can learn and develop from each other. Without trust and integrity, staff meetings become a waste of time. Trust leads to open communication resolutions and accountability among each member of a team. Conflict must remain non-personal. Try to understand conflict while establishing accountability and commitment with your team. Learn to be taught and create an environment where other people can learn.
Learning from mistakes
Anyone who is not making mistakes is not moving forward. Everyday life requires you to make a mistake. The most important thing is that you make smart mistakes, learn from your mistakes and then move on. Avoid bad mistakes by not falling in love with the deal, remain objective. Identify what is most important to you and use your mistakes to grow. To me, my family is the most important thing. When I was working with different law firms I was involved in a lot of traveling. This put a strain on my family and if I could have done things differently I would not have traveled for work so much.
Decision Making Process as CEO
Minor decisions for a company generally don’t require senior executive time. Allow specific departments to make their own decisions. The best-managed companies are ones where management gives employees as much autonomy as they can handle. Departments must have decision-making capabilities. People should be empowered as much as possible given all other constraints and regulations.
Complex decisions like mergers and acquisitions are made at the executive level. Find the best people within your firm to join the decision making process. Follow a process for identifying what small issues are important to resolving the complex decision. First, identify the gating issues, does it make economic sense to resolve the complex issue? How does the issue relate to the firm’s overall strategic growth? Second, identify the regulatory issues that will destroy the project, what capital issues are relevant? Lastly, write out the plan on in a memorandum as to why the company will pursue the deal. The written word is the tangible evidence of your thought. Writing down a plan exposes the holes in the plan, it allows you and others to expose weaknesses.
Every good deal dies at least 5 times before it succeeds. If a plan falls a part because it’s a bad plan then you should leave the plan alone and pursue a different opportunity. If a plan fails because there is middle ground to find, then good management will find that middle ground. Good management will identify the problems evident to a project and will analyze the problems the best they can with the information they have. They deal with the issues and work toward moving the deal to the end of the process. They identify areas of risk and separate the real risk from the hypothetical risk.
Vision Going Forward
Perspective in life is everything and when you’re perspective changes then your vision follows. You must be passionate about what you do. Educate yourself and others as to “why you do what you do, have a cause for why you do what you do. In your organization create a culture where people feel valuable. If you satisfy the four C’s (Culture, Career, Curriculum, & Compensation) then your employees will remain committed to your organization. Surround yourself with people that are smarter and more intelligent than you. Shift your thinking when needed. Recognize that in life there are processes that you cannot control, you did not cause it, and you cannot change it. Anyone that is ignorant enough to think they do not need to learn, is not anyone that I want to be around.
4 C’s to Organizational Success
1.) Culture: Do you fit with the organization’s culture? With Bank of American Fork integrity is absolute. Any action outside of integrity violates its core culture. An action done out of ignorance can be changed, by teaching. An intentional act results in being fired if it is not in line with company values. The single biggest reason people leave an organization is because of issues with their supervisor. Do you fit with the organization?
2.) Career. What do you want to be in your career? How are you going to get to your dream position, whether it is with this company or another? Find out where you want to be and find the skills required that you can achieve the career you desire.
3.) Curriculum. What training is required for you to achieve your career objective?
4.) Compensation. What compensation structure do you need? This includes short term (salary and cash bonus), long term (retirement, equity) and benefits (insurance, vacation sick leave). When all 4 Cs are balanced then your employees will feel they are being compensated fairly. If they fit in with the culture, have growth opportunities and have educational support, you will have a functioning productive organization.