Mark Harrell, president and CEO of CNB Bank
By MIKE LEWIS
Mark Harrell says the favorite part of his day is interacting with customers.
As president and CEO of CNB Bank, Harrell oversees eight community-banking offices — two in Morgan County, W.Va.; three in Berkeley County, W.Va.; and three in Washington County, Md. — one in Hancock and two in Hagerstown. The locally owned bank offers a full array of financial services.
Harrell holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from Towson University. He also is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Bankers’ Association of Commercial Lending and of the Maryland Bankers Association Advanced School of Executive Management.
He served as assistant vice president of the First National Bank of Maryland, as senior vice president of Hagerstown Trust and as president of Centra Bank of Hagerstown from 2007 until joining CNB in January of 2012.
He serves on the boards of the War Memorial Hospital Foundation and the Hagerstown Community College Foundation. He is a member of the Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and past President of Berkeley Springs Rotary. He currently serves as the Vice President of Hospice of the Panhandle.
Harrell and his wife, Patricia, have three children.
On a break, is it coffee, tea, soda, water … ?
I haven’t acquired a taste for coffee so my go-to beverage has been tea, hot or cold — but lots of sugar! I’ve switched to water recently to eliminate a few pounds. Not sure how long this new approach will last, and most of my colleagues would likely tell you they want me back on caffeine and sugar.
An average day for you includes … ?
The business world is full of meetings and, unfortunately, banking isn’t exempt from this routine. I have many standing meetings and ad hoc meetings throughout the day and week. I generally start my day with tea (now water) while reading through various news and banking related publications. I also study and maintain a strong handle on the general economy at the local, regional and national level. I dedicate time to the community as well, serving on nonprofit boards and committees. My favorite part of the day is interacting with customers. As a community bank, we have the luxury of learning a great deal about our customers and the privilege of helping them accomplish their goals.
As a local, community financial institution, how does CNB Bank position itself in a competitive market?
The banking industry continues to experience an increase in competition, including banks, non-banks and fin-techs. Our differentiator hasn’t changed since we started 84 years ago, and it’s our commitment to provide the best customer experience, every day, to every customer. Additionally, as early adopters, we are proud to have advanced technology to offer products a customer’s desire. Many of these new products and services help save them money and simplify their lives. Our commitment to technology allows CNB to compete well with larger banks. We are local, and as a result we make local decisions. We are owned and operated by local investors who have a strong interest in the overall success of our community. Our customers appreciate banking locally similar to purchasing products local, attending community-centered events and visiting farmers markets, where the produce has been grown locally.
What are some of the most important challenges and opportunities on the horizon?
Overall we remain very optimistic about the future as CNB Bank continues to grow at record numbers and, more importantly, many of our customers are in a much stronger position now than they were 5-10 years ago. We expect this trend to continue.
A primary challenge to the banking industry is related to regulation. Regulators seem to use a one-size-fits-all approach and, in many cases, the unintended negative consequences impact community bank customers. Additionally, as more “non-bank” competition rises, which the industry embraces, regulators should join forces and demand the same level of scrutiny provided to the banking industry. This scrutiny is the lynchpin to consumer protection. Many experts agree our economy continues to be in a healthy expansion cycle. Most leading indicators will support this claim but, like all expansions, the growth trajectory eventually changes and we prepare accordingly. The protracted low-interest-rate environment is beginning to shift, and many Americans, in particular younger adults, may find themselves challenged in an interest rate environment they are not accustomed.
Outside of work, what are your ambitions and aspirations?
I’m a proud father of three, which has consumed most of my time outside of work for the past 25 years. Now they are in, or entering, young adulthood, so it’s time for me to learn a few hobbies.
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