Sam Hanna
Senior Vice President and Director of Middle Market Banking, Webster Bank
Age: 58
Industry experience: 30 years   

After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Sam Hanna figured the best way to leverage his finance degree would be to start a career in banking. Three decades later, Hanna is still in the industry and is now senior vice president and director of middle market banking for Webster Bank, where he has worked for the last 13 years.  

Prior to his current role, Hanna worked in commercial real estate for Webster, managing the Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts markets. He also spent two years at the bank managing the risk and recovery real estate team.

Before joining Webster, Hanna was a market manager in commercial real estate and a senior client manager of national real estate at Fleet Bank, which has since been acquired by Bank of America. Hanna also worked in various management and lending positions earlier in his career at Bank of New England.  

Q: As a middle market banker at a mid-sized regional bank, what types of services do you help Webster provide? Who are your typical clients?
A: We provide all the services you would expect from a commercial bank including a broad array of debt, cash management and treasury products. What differentiates Webster is the way we deliver the products to our customers. Realistically, we don’t see ourselves as providing products but rather solutions tailored to the specific needs of our customers. Specifically, our focus is to understand the company’s business model and then structure a program around those needs. We take a holistic view of the customer and present a solution that addresses their capital needs as well as cash management and treasury services in order to help them achieve their financial goals.   

Q: How do you get a lot of your customers? Are they funneled in from other divisions of the bank or does your department go out and get leads on their own?
A: We have a robust prospecting program that is supported by experienced relationship managers. We also leverage our relationships with the professional community including accountants, lawyers and other centers of influence. However, I’m pleased to say many of our existing customers refer us to new opportunities because they understand and appreciate that we are a values-based organization committed to our customers in good times and more importantly, in more challenging times. I think a referral from an existing client is the greatest endorsement we can get. 

Q: In what part or parts of Massachusetts are you seeing a lot of middle market banking activity? 
A: We are seeing the most activity inside the Interstate 495 corridor and more specifically inside the Route 128 beltway through commercial and residential construction, which is attracting new businesses to the area. We are also observing pockets of industrial activity in both the Worcester County and the Fall River areas. 

Q: In general, how is M&A and IPO activity in your coverage areas compared to recent years?
A: Historically M&A and IPO activities haven’t greatly affected our traditional middle market businesses. However, activity remains steady in certain markets where we do business. I’d say the general trend is that there is more liquidity in the markets, so organizations can be more selective on terms and who they want to bank with. On the other hand, Webster’s sponsor and specialty finance business, is more directly affected by M&A and IPO activities, and they continue to see strong demand as well as competition among banks and non-banks.   

Hanna’s Five Suggestion to Become a Better Leader: 

  1. Encourage different views: Create a strong and open line of communication and encourage team members to feel they can speak honestly and openly with dissenting views.  
  2. Empower your team members: Build trust and encourage team members to make decisions independently as they are the subject matter experts.   
  3. Cultivate a positive working environment: Encourage collaboration at all levels. Everyone has an equal voice. It really doesn’t matter who comes up with the solution.    
  4. Accountability is key: Everyone on the team contributes to the bottom line. We all need to be accountable for our actions and how they affect the performance of the entire team.  
  5. Understand the challenges: It’s important to stand in other people’s shoes to better appreciate the challenges they are experiencing. You can’t fix a problem until you appreciate the magnitude of the issue. 

Banking on the Market’s Middle Ground

by Bram Berkowitz time to read: 3 min