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Upstate critical to KeyBank future, exec says

Upstate New York plays a powerful role in KeyBank’s expanded network, following the bank's acquisition of First Niagara Bank, a Key executive said.

“Upstate New York now is nearly one quarter of our overall retail franchise, and it really helps us from a competitive position,” said Christopher Gorman, Key's merger integration executive.

He spoke Thursday at the BancAnalysts Association of Boston Conference, which was streamed online.

Key is preparing to close 36 Key branches by year’s end as part of the consolidation. Once that step is complete, Key’s deposits in upstate New York will “nearly double on a year-over-year basis, to approximately $90 million per branch," Gorman said.

Gorman called bringing First Niagara employees into the fold an essential step of the $4 billion acquisition.

“We have focused all of our efforts on winning the hearts and minds of our new employees and ensuring that they are in fact positioned to be successful,” he said. “For us, it started with being upfront and forthright with people, especially with what was most important to them: Do I have a job at Key?”

Key chose to keep all of First Niagara’s branch, contact center, mortgage, auto lending, insurance and commercial banking employees. Gorman said Key emphasized communication with First Niagara's employees as Key combined the two organizations.

“A very high percentage -- specifically 90 percent -- of the top talent that we identified that we wanted to be on the Key platform, accepted a job at Key,” he said.

Gorman noted Key launched a “significant marketing effort” to support its expanded work force.

“If you don’t like the color red, I suggest you avoid Buffalo, N.Y., right now, because there is a lot of it,” he said.

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