© CEOCFO Magazine -
CEOCFO Magazine, PO Box 340
Palm Harbor, FL 34682-
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Steve Alexander, Associate Editor
Bud Wayne, Marketing
& Production Manager
Christy Rivers -
President & CEO
Coastal Financial Corporation
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – October 26, 2020
CEOCFO: Mr. Sprink, every bank has their own philosophy and approach. What is the vision behind Coastal Financial Community Bank?
Mr. Sprink: Coastal Community Bank is geared to serve our customers. There are certain things that we excel in that we are leveraging. Meeting the customers’ known and unknown needs, whether that is in-
Our core vision revolves around our employees. We lead with our employees first and we support them, and if we take care of them, they will take care of our customers. We are very focused on customers and very focused on our employees taking care of those customers. I do not think that is going to change for the foreseeable future regardless of how we deliver it, electronically or geographically, but that is the core nucleus of who Coastal is and how we are going to operate going forward.
CEOCFO: How have you made that into a reality during the Covid era?
Mr. Sprink: I think all financial institutions and mainly all companies in the country have adapted appropriately for COVID, and with social distancing, remote workforce, maintaining the safety for our employees and our customers. I do not think it affected our delivery in any way. I think it was a three-
Our area was one of the first hard hit areas in the country. We reacted, we have fantastic employees, we made the change, and we just kept our eye on the ball of making sure our employees are safe, happy, and that they can do their job wherever they are located. We continue to talk to our customers and make sure we support them through all times, good times, bad times, and COVID is an uncharted time so we even talk to them more. We are involved with them more. We found ways to meet their needs that we have not thought of before.
CEOCFO: How do you keep in contact with your employees and keep them up-
Mr. Sprink: That is where this COVID has allowed us to develop. We have two distinct constituencies, our customers but also our employees. You need to communicate differently; you need to communicate more often through all of the unique challenges that this time has presented. As an example, our lobbies are still appointment only but we broadcast that and we have been emailing customers to that and any changes to that we get, we do broadband broadcasts of those changes; update our webpages as well as signs on the door.
On the employee side, I think we are all learning new skills and humbly trying to still maintain our effectiveness, but at the end of the day it comes back to the employees. We have fantastic teammates that go above and beyond for our customers, who are working as hard or harder from home. We have not seen any noticeable drop in engagement with our customers via our employees. I am going to give that love and that credit to the employees because they are just fantastic and they keep continually doing what they do best which is take care of the customers.
CEOCFO: How do you instill that into the employees? What is in your company culture that brings out the best in your employees?
Mr. Sprink: One thing is to compliment the employees and the leadership at that bank for challenging the employees and maintaining that true belief in why we exist as a company. If you were to look at our core values and what we have hired for, and what we train to, and what we believe in, our core values are stay flexible, take care of each other, embrace gray thinking, be relentless, be the best, and be un-
The PPP program that the SBA offered in April, we were one of the top producing PPP lenders in the country based on our asset size. I think we might have actually funded the first PPP loan in the country even though we are on the west coast but that was all credit to the team because they asked how they could help this community and get these dollars funded, and how they could find a way around this. We were approving loans two weeks before SBA knew which docs to use, what the authorization agreement needs to look like, what the final program rules are. That was an example of working around the system to meet the needs of the community. Long story short, we were in the top two or three percentile in the country for production as a percent of our assets so we definitely outperformed our weight class per se. That is all because I believe our employees are fantastic and they focus on solving problems and finding solutions. It is COVID this year but it has been something every single year.
Why do we exist as a company? I think you have to focus on why people pay us money. We are not in business to make money; we are in business to help people. You have to keep reminding yourself of why we do this job and why we exist. I believe our employees are the champions of that why. We want our customers to succeed and we love our small businesses and we love our entrepreneurs and finding a way to help them is really energizing. I humbly say that, it is just who we are.
CEOCFO: How do you breakdown between business and commercial?
Mr. Sprink: Our generic balance sheet is composed of 75% small business customers and 25% consumer. The vast majority of our banking customers that we work with are small businesses themselves, so are our Fintech partners that we work with. In society we have great consumer platform, but compared to the mega banks and credit unions we tend to find that our value add and our why is to help the small business owners and entrepreneurs of society succeed and fight against the big guys.
CEOCFO: Would you give us an example of how you went above and beyond?
Mr. Sprink: I referenced the PPP program as an example. That was a community-
Specifics will be along the lines of working with customers through this pandemic and working with customers that are addressing their cash flow issues. With how we administered our referral programs, we came out broadly in March and just said everybody that is even remotely raising their hand gets a deferral, no questions asked, no moral judgement. That is very similar to what the SBA program did nationwide where they gave blanket payments to SBA loans for six months. We did have a higher percentage of deferrals than most banks because we just wanted to get that assistance out to our community and say ok by the end of the year we will regroup; we will know where we are.
We are pleased today that we only had one customer out of our entire portfolio that requested a second deferral. We would give them if they asked and we have offered them but that shows that we were able to address the needs early, fast, and understand the situation, work with the regulatory bodies, work with the accounting bodies, and come up with specific solutions for our borrowers.
CEOCFO: What is Coastal Financial doing in additional to your community bank?
Mr. Sprink: We have three distinctive divisions at the bank. We have our community bank, CCB, that works with our fifteen branches in the Puget Sound market and that is the majority of what we have been talking about. We have another division which is CCBX, the X is indicative of our Fintech partners that we work with. We have nine Fintech partners that we have agreements with today and a robust pipeline beyond that. We provide the operations, compliance, money movement, and supervisory assistance to Fintech companies all throughout the country. We help them meet different communities’ needs digitally while performing the banking functions behind the scenes.
Our third division at Coastal Community Bank is our digital bank. We announced in August a collaboration with Google and Google humbly chose Coastal to be one of the banks to launch the Google Cache platform next year, so we are super excited with all three of our divisions. They are each different but distinctly the same. Behind all of those divisions we are just trying to meet our customers’ needs, focusing on operations and compliance, and the integrity of the system, two disparate digital communities, disparate geographic communities, but our delivery is the same. The front end is a little bit different on how we talk to customers.
CEOCFO: Do you find challenges working with Google, such a large and forceful organization?
Mr. Sprink: Google is Google so you have to acknowledge that. My personal experience and Coastal experience has been fantastic. We have been in talks with them for fourteen months before we signed the agreement and it is a collaborative effort, they are very conscience of the bank and our safety and soundness, they are conscience of the laws of the country, and they are conscience of delivering a front-
We feel comfortable because there is constant communication going back and forth. Communication with our co-
CEOCFO: Is the investment community paying attention to Coastal Financial?
Mr. Sprink: You would have to ask the investment community. We have a basic mentality here, what Coastal controls is the customer experience, and that is both our local customers in our geography, our Fintech partners, and our relationship with Google. We control that experience and we control the employee experience. As long as we focus on those two things, at the end of the day we believe we are on the right path creating value for our shareholders. I think in due time the investment community will recognize based upon experience that the system will work and is working. We feel comfortable with the communications we have with everybody and our long-
CEOCFO: Why should Coastal Financial be the bank of choice and the partner of choice?
Mr. Sprink: How we do business and when we do business and when we work with a partner or customer, we really are trying to solve the customer’s needs for the next three to ten years. Our experience level and the way we are approaching both our own investments in Fintech and Regtech, we are building some of our own machine learning AI-
We are always trying to solve for the customer’s needs, whatever that may be. It could be a local restaurant that is obviously under distress today or that could be an unknown business customer or an unknown Fintech partner that we have not even talked to yet, the same mentality is going to be expressed to them. We generally care about their well-
At the end of the day, I am going to do that via our employees so when they deal with any employee in this company, they should have a great experience because that employee is being taken care of, because as management, we are un-
Coastal Financial Corporation, Eric Sprink, Banks in Western Washington, Puget Sound Banks, Coastal Community Bank, Nasdaq: CCB, Core Values Lead Company into the Future, CEO Interviews 2020, Financial Companies, Public Company, North Puget Sound Banks, Greater Seattle Banks, Western Washington Banks, Small Business Lenders, Small Business Lending, Treasury Management, funds management, fraud protection, credit card processing, business checking, business loans, business savings accounts, business money market, business Certificates of Deposit (CDs), commercial checking, non-
“Our core vision revolves around our employees. We lead with our employees first and we support them, and if we take care of them, they will take care of our customers.” Eric Sprinks