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Berkshire Hills Bancorp Claims To Be "America’s Most Exciting Bank", Suprisingly Works Very Well In Their Favor

Banking can be fun...right?

If I've learned anything this summer, it's that bankers aren't known for their spontaneity or their ability to have fun.

If you don't believe me, just watch this video


Leveraged buyouts are funnier than that video. A video of a dog running around on a fish-eye lens while Benny Hill plays in the background is more entertaining.

And although most banks are about as fun and exciting as the video above, one bank is breaking the financial fun barrier.

So Mr. Daly has adopted an unconventional rulebook meant to energize and empower his 1,900 employees. Suits are not allowed. Rock music must be played at every meeting. And zip lines are an acceptable form of transportation: Mr. Daly once arrived at an employee town hall on one, slinging $100 bills to the crowd below.

The CEO, Michael Daly, literally made it rain over all his employees at his town hall like he's Lil John or something. I'd call it a gimmick Daly was throwing anything under 20, but this magnificent man rolls up to a town hall with a roll of benjies like he's Pablo Escobar running for Senate.

He also managed to realize that employees hate wearing suits. Yes, it's nice to show off the Brooks Brothers suit and the Gucci loafers, but every day is a little much. Also, the lack of a tie improves circulation to the brain and allows employees to function at a higher level.

However, Mr. Daly sees detractors in his tactics managing "America's Most Exciting Bank."

In an industry built on numbers, Mr. Daly believes in emotions and that employees who feel good will do good work. He started calling his company “America’s Most Exciting Bank” years ago, because workers told him they wanted jobs they enjoyed.

If his tactics sound like gimmickry, Mr. Daly disagrees. Employees who don’t believe in the bank’s culture tend to leave quickly, he says, and he expects buy-in from his executives, who have dressed like members of the rock band KISS or engaged in lip-sync battles at other employee meetings.

Since he became chief executive in 2002, the bank has grown to $11.5 billion in assets as of the first quarter, from about $1 billion. During acquisitions and their accompanying job cuts, Mr. Daly hands out his cellphone number freely and encourages employees whose jobs are on the line to “come get in my face.” The ones that do call often prove worth keeping. “You would be shocked at how many high performers we find through that,” he says.

Some think it's a little too much and they want Berkshire Hills to "Tone it down," as my lame dad would say. However, if you take a closer look, the success of the company speaks for itself. They moved from $1.1 billion in assets to $15 billion since Mr. Daly became CEO.

On top of that, most people would sacrifice about a week of vacation if it meant they were allowed to tee it off with CEO of the company. Everyone dreams about giving their boss a piece of their mind, but the shackles of fear and brown-nosing tell us otherwise. The only two things keeping me from verbally kicking Thornton in the teeth are my attachment issues, and more importantly, job security. At Berkshire Hills they just said, "screw it" and it has helped them realize the full potential of their employees.

Sometimes an unconventional strategy is the best strategy. And in unconventional Wall Street fashion, Michael Daly is here for a good time and a long time.

Meet the CEO of ‘America’s Most Exciting Bank’—at Least as He’s Branded It [WSJ]


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