Kathleen Kane has been in banking for more than 30 years, working for HSBC Bank USA, First Niagara Bank and Northwest Bank, as one merger or acquisition followed another.
Now Kane has joined Bank on Buffalo, and will manage the exact same branch she once led in Orchard Park for 17 years. It was most recently a First Niagara branch, but closed after the KeyBank deal was completed.
The turn of events for Kane reflects the upheaval the local banking industry has gone through in recent years, as well as the talent pool Bank on Buffalo is drawing from as it tries to gain a foothold.
Bank on Buffalo is rounding out its team as it prepares to open two other branches in a few months.
Ken Kane – no relation to Kathy – worked in a Rand Building branch for about 17 years that morphed from HSBC to First Niagara to Northwest. He was such a fixture there customers nicknamed him "the mayor," said Martin Griffith, Bank on Buffalo's president.
Ken Kane has moved a few blocks north to serve as branch manager of Bank on Buffalo's downtown location, in the Electric Tower. "It's great to be part of a start-up industry here in Western New York," he said. The location has operated so far as only a loan production office, but on Tuesday will convert to a full-service branch, able to accept customer deposits, as well.
Kathleen Kane, who is also the bank's regional retail market manager, said she and Ken Kane joined Bank on Buffalo with a similar mindset.
"It was time for us to make the change, instead of the bank making the change for us," Kathleen Kane said.
Bank on Buffalo plans to open another branch at 5190 Sheridan Drive in Amherst – also a former First Niagara branch – in late May, followed by one at 3049 Orchard Park Road two or three weeks later. Both will first undergo complete renovations. By May, the bank expects to have about 30 employees.
Ryan Gorman was named the Amherst branch manager. He started as a teller at an HSBC branch in 2010, before moving on to roles with First Niagara and then Evans Bank. The idea of being a founding staff member at Bank on Buffalo appealed to him.
"It's such a unique opportunity that I don't think I'll ever be a part of for the rest of my life," Gorman said. "All of the other banks I worked for have been established for the past 100 or so years."
Griffith, himself an industry veteran, said he has come to appreciate the "void" that First Niagara left in serving middle-market businesses when that bank vanished through acquisition.
"Now you have a race on, with Bank on Buffalo, and a handful of other community bank competitors, that are trying to lap up some of that spilled milk," Griffith said. "None of us, I don't think, would sit here and say we need to pick up 10 or 20 percent of that market share. If we pick up two to five basis points of that market share, it would be meaningful for our balance sheets."
Griffith said he sees a chance for Bank on Buffalo to expand on the lending relationships it has already established. "We've done approximately $40 million of lending in the last quarter of the year to various levels of middle market companies in town," he said. "So there's a significant deposit base forthcoming just from that. Our active [loan] pipeline is approaching $100 million."
Bank on Buffalo is a division of CNB Bank, whose parent is a publicly traded, Pennsylvania-based institution with $2.6 billion in assets. But Griffith said Bank on Buffalo is building a staff of local people, and emphasizing local decision-making and personal connections with customers.
Griffith said he recently heard from CNB's CEO, Joseph Bower Jr., that CNB's institutional investors were upbeat about the new Buffalo division.
"When you hear that your institutional investors support that you're allocating capital to a new market and they're excited, then we get excited," Griffith said.