BoA plans major West Michigan expansion


Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, left, hired Renee Tabben as the bank’s Grand Rapids market president. Photo by Adam Bird

In an exclusive meeting with the Business Journal, Bank of America CEO and President Brian Moynihan outlined the company’s plan to expand on its 11 locations in the Grand Rapids area, noting the region’s quick growth, strong economy and longstanding business relationships with BoA made it an attractive location for expansion.

“It’s a large market, it’s growing and it’s been underserved by us in the sense that we were more eastern-part-of-the-state oriented — in part because (our acquisition of Merrill Lynch and LaSalle Bank) was more eastern-part-of-the-state oriented,” Moynihan said. “It wasn’t by any design, and the question is where you want to be, so we’ve decided to build out this part (of the state).”

Moynihan said BoA’s current presence in Grand Rapids is more focused on commercial banking while the company’s retail system composes a smaller part of its market share. The idea is to balance them out.

He said the company hopes to at least double on its eight branch locations in the area, with new branches starting to come down the line in the next 10 to 12 months.

There isn’t a set number of how many locations the bank plans for Grand Rapids, but Moynihan said each new branch needs about 3,000-4,000 new customers to be viable.

However, there are challenges that come with opening several new branches in an area.

“You’ve got to think about how you deploy, because the chances of you meeting the same capacity 10 years down the road is different,” Moynihan said. “So now you’ve got to deploy to get instantaneous capacity without overcommitting, and also do so in a way that can be modernized down the line.”

Helping to facilitate saturation into the Grand Rapids market is Renee Tabben, recently hired as BoA’s first-ever Grand Rapids market president and joining the ranks of BoA presidents across all its major markets.

Tabben’s appointment represents BoA’s dedication to the Grand Rapids market and the role she will play in the bank’s regional growth. 

Moynihan said Tabben is responsible for what he terms “the hard part”: finding the right people to plug into the right systems to ensure BoA is successful.

“We don’t want to just come in and open our doors and say, ‘We’re here,’” Tabben said. “We’re being very thoughtful and strategic about it. And we are dedicated to hiring people in the lines of business we think have the best opportunities set.”

According to Moynihan, Grand Rapids is ready for Bank of America. As the company has worked to put its role in the 2008 financial crisis behind it, Moynihan said customer satisfaction with the bank is as high as it’s been since at least 2005. He noted that attrition is down, overall brand scores are up and so are consumer scores.

“Our scores are back to where they should have been, back to where they’ve ever been, but the real question is, what can we do tomorrow better than today?” Moynihan said.

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