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May 28, 2018
On the record

NBT Bank's niche: Clients too small for the larger banks and too big for the smaller banks

Photo / Jim Neuger
Photo / Jim Neuger
Kimberly Twitchell is Maine regional president for NBT Bank, whose parent company, NBT Bancorp, is headquartered in Norwich, N.Y., and has more than $9 billion in assets. NBT has been in Maine since 2014.

Kimberly Twitchell is Maine regional president for NBT Bank, whose parent company, NBT Bancorp (NASDAQ: NBTB), is headquartered in Norwich, N.Y., and has more than $9 billion in assets. NBT has been in Maine since 2014.

Twitchell, who has worked in banking for nearly 30 years, joined NBT Bank in 2014 as regional commercial banking manager and was promoted to her current post in 2015. The Bowdoin College alumna sat down with Mainebiz in her office on Merrill's Wharf in Portland overlooking Casco Bay.

Mainebiz: What drew you to banking?

Kimberly Twitchell: I grew up in the hospitality industry — my parents owned a hotel, and I loved helping my dad. We had a Coke machine, and it was my job as a little kid to run down and grab the coins and then roll them. I always had a numbers thing, and I've always had relationships with customers. I grew up in a service business similar to banking — you take care of your clients.

MB: How has the banking landscape changed over the years?

KT: I have seen a tremendous amount of consolidation in Maine, in New England, and during my career. When you look at the number of banks we had 10 years ago versus today, it's incredible how consolidated the industry has become. You've also seen a tremendous amount of technology advancements.

MB: What niche does NBT aim to fill?

KT: When you look at the Maine banking environment, clearly we have enough banks. We focus on clients that are too small for the larger banks and too big for the smaller banks. We don't have a retail presence, so if you need a branch on every corner, we're not for you. We're not trying to compete with banks in that market, but trying to work with them.

MB: Any plans to expand beyond seven employees in Portland?

KT: We are in the market to hire a lender and an analyst. We may also expand on the consumer side, and we're in the market looking for a mortgage underwriter. We are absolutely hiring, so send anyone you know our way. Our top priority is to continue to grow and work to build out our office here.

MB: How do you find talent in this tight labor market?

KT: We call a lot of people, meet with a lot of people, and try to convey our office personality. It's a small office, so that's not for everyone, but we have tremendous experience and that's what we try to highlight. We've got a lot of people that you can really learn from, and so there could be a lot of opportunity.

MB: What obstacles have you encountered as a woman in banking?

KT: I was very fortunate in that I've had very supportive male role models who provided me with a tremendous amount of flexibility when I entered my career. When I first had kids, working flexible hours was a little unheard of, and my boss was not afraid to provide me with flexibility. He allowed me to work at home, and the company provided a laptop. That encouraged me to stay and continue my career. Now my kids are in college, so I'm at a different stage — I can put in more time in the office.

MB: Can you imagine yourself in a field other than banking?

KT: What I love about commercial banking is that every client is so different, and the businesses are so different, and it's very exciting. Being able to facilitate a business's growth is both enriching and satisfying. On the commercial real estate side, seeing a project go up and seeing a historic structure be renovated, a neighborhood revitalized, is exciting.

MB: If you could go back, what advice would you give to your younger self?

KT: Capitalize on every opportunity, don't be afraid to take chances, be your best advocate and always believe in yourself. As a woman, you really have to advocate for yourself, because no one else is going to. Women tend to stay back and not want to take praise and not be in the forefront. That's got to change, and I see that changing.

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