Sterling CEO: Small Businesses Fueling Loan Growth
John Milman: We're in a dynamite banking market -- the best in the world. Everyone wants to be in New York City. You have the greatest concentration of small and midsized companies here. We have had a very consistent strategy through good times and bad, focusing on privately owned entrepreneurial businesses. The money center banks can't focus on this kind of smaller company, because it takes so many five-million borrowers to move the needle for a trillion dollar institution.
The market is resurging. We never turned down to the extent that the rest of the country did. Sterling National Bank has an enormous opportunity to expand market share. Also, our existing clients are beginning to draw on their credit lines more.
TheStreet: Have you hired additional lenders?
Millman: Yes, we have hired six or seven business development people over the past year. We have a core platform and operations capacity that can support substantially more volume than we presently have, which helps us to control expenses.
TheStreet: Sterling traditionally focuses on building loan and deposit relationships with small businesses and service providers. Is there any change in the bank's lending focus?
Millman: Absolutely not. This has been our ongoing focus since 1929.
TheStreet: Do you expect the growth to continue at this clip?
Millman: We expect continued double digit growth in both loans and deposits.
TheStreet: Who's hiring in the city?
Millman: My sense is that the financial service firms, the commercial banks, are now beginning to hire business development people and we are seeing more interest in our employees from other institutions. I think this is a sign of revitalization in the market place.