Joseph Thomas is chairman, president, and CEO of Bay Bank, as well as a founding shareholder of Bay Bancorp, its parent company. Since its establishment in 2010, Bay Bank has grown into one of the largest and most successful community-centric financial institutions in the Baltimore region, providing both personal and business banking services such as savings, loans, cash management, and commercial lending. Earlier this month, the bank finalized its acquisition of Hopkins Federal Savings Bank. Now with 12 branches open in the Baltimore–Washington area, Bay Bank’s assets total approximately $650 million.
Joseph Thomas spoke with citybizlist publisher Edwin Warfield for this interview.
EDWIN WARFIELD: What is Bay Bank’s value proposition, and what was its genesis?
JOSEPH THOMAS: Our specific mantra is “the bank built by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs.” We would like to say we have 125 years of banking heritage, although we’ve only been in operation six years. We have the expertise and talent of a very large bank, but we’re serving companies in our community locally.
We had a value proposition that we could build a locally owned and operated community bank in the Baltimore–Washington corridor—but to be relevant, we needed to get to critical scale. We think the success we’ve had in acquisitions to get to scale gives us now the capital and the earnings momentum to drive share price and to continue to grow in that Baltimore–Washington region. We’ve invested quite a bit in our own technology platform because the most important thing we can do for our entrepreneurs is provide them with accurate and timely financial information about their own business. So, we have developed both an online banking platform as well as a mobile app with which the business owner can very quickly assess the entirety of their financial situation, what their liquidity needs are, transfer money online within their accounts or use their mobile app to initiate payments for vendors.
Q. Are there certain entrepreneurial segments you concentrate on serving?
A. The areas we’ve chosen to focus are healthcare, specifically serving doctors and dentists; government contracting, specifically focusing on the cybersecurity industry vertical; manufacturing, specifically we focused on trucking and transportation; and, lastly, not-for-profit with all the wonderful institutions that are endowed in our region. It’s really those four where our bankers can deliver unique insight and advice to our customers, share best practices among our shared customers, and bring a product suite for both debt and treasury services that is custom-made for the customers in those industry verticals.
Q. What’s next after your recent acquisition?
A. An area that we’ve really focused on differentiating ourselves is the speed of decision-making and the accessibility to local decision makers. We have a term of art that we describe as “taking the loan committee to the customer.”
We are going to focus on what we’re good at and what we know we can position with customers. I think over the long scale, as you get to the super-regional size, it does make sense to invest in other product channels to which you can serve your customers in a broader way and more fully capture their wallet. However, for us, at this stage of our growth—like any good entrepreneur—we’re focused on a smaller task with great aspirations to outperform based upon the execution and so we’re doing that in the space where we have the greatest confidence of success.