Robert (Bob) A. DeAlmeida, M.S. ’85, is president and CEO of Hamilton Bank. During his tenure, Hamilton Bank has been transformed and grown in size. He recently sat down with The Merrick Exchange and shared some thoughts about his career, as well as some valuable advice for our students.
Merrick Exchange: How did you decide on a career in banking?
DeAlmeida: I love finance and numbers, and I am frugal. In addition, when I was a boy I loved playing with my Legos and Erector set to build great designs and tall buildings. Banking allowed me an opportunity to finance construction projects from the ground up to completion.
Merrick Exchange: Where did you get your start? What led you to your current position?
DeAlmeida: I saw an advertisement for an assistant treasurer at a local community bank when I graduated from college. I had worked for a small CPA firm and knew I had experience in accounting. The treasurer took a chance on me and offered me the job. Banking entered my soul and I love the impact that banking offers the community.
Merrick Exchange: Please describe your current position as president and CEO at Hamilton Bank.
DeAlmeida: As president my role is to provide my vision and direction for the bank. I have talented people who work with me to implement the vision. In addition, I build relationships with my customers and serve on a number of non-profit boards as well as volunteer helping my community.
Merrick Exchange: What are some current challenges that your organization is facing?
DeAlmeida: Currently, loan demand is lacking as a number of our small business customers are still uncertain in this economy. The only bright spot is the housing market has stabilized and is slowly starting to grow. Lastly, due to the financial crisis, regulations have increased at a record number, causing a bank like Hamilton to spend more money on compliance and less on seeking ways to grow. It is a challenging time for community banks.
Merrick Exchange: What were your expectations in pursuing a career in banking?
DeAlmeida: Being a numbers guy, my goal initially was to help with strategic planning as the CFO, to offer my strength in making sure that the bank is profitable and fulfilling its mission of being a place where customers trust us. We ask customers to place their hard-earned savings with us, and they expect us to use those funds prudently by helping the community with the purchase of homes or providing the financing to help a small business grow.
Merrick Exchange: What advice would you give to students who might want to pursue a career in banking but are undecided?
DeAlmeida: Banking is all about building relationships and helping your customer build wealth. The goal is to offer a service that helps your customer with their finances. Not everyone understands the need for a budget or planning for retirement – it is a banker’s job to offer products that help a customer save, or in the case of a small business, to grow profitably.
Merrick Exchange: What's the one job-hunting secret you wish all students knew?
DeAlmeida: First, use your friends and acquaintances to help you find a job. Learn to network; networking is about building friendships and not just helping you. Make sure you study the company you would like to work for and provide insight as to how you are going to solve their problem.
Merrick Exchange: Why did you choose to attend UB?
DeAlmeida: UB offered me an easy way to complete my graduate degree and was convenient to work. I discovered some excellent professors, and it offered me a great value in the form of lower cost as compared to other universities.
Merrick Exchange: How has attending UB helped you in your career?
DeAlmeida: I majored in economics back in the ’80s when the U.S. economy was in recession and I wanted insight as to why. The professors provided me great insight and challenged my initial thought process. I know it made me a better leader as I questioned the direction of the bank; I was working at the time, and it helped me with my strategic thought process.
Merrick Exchange: What personal goal have you set for yourself this year?
DeAlmeida: My personal goal is to read 35 books and learn to play the guitar.
Merrick Exchange: What is the last book you read?
DeAlmeida: For pleasure – Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer; for business – The Competent Organization by Dr. Lee Thayer
Merrick Exchange: What does your future look like?
DeAlmeida: It is hard to see myself ever retiring, and I love politics so in my next career I plan to run one day as a state delegate.