Hunting for commercial bankers

  • Article by: JENNIFER BJORHUS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 28, 2013 - 4:22 PM

Two recruitment veterans see a continuing increase in demand as the economy strengthens.

Mary Lydon and Paul Bees of Midwest Financial Search Inc. say they still see a shortage of commercial bankers with both credit underwriting and business development skills.

Photo: JERRY HOLT • jerry.holt@startribune.com,

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Chances are pretty good that if you’re a seasoned commercial banker in the Twin Cities, Paul Bees or Mary Lydon have you in their Rolodex.

The duo has run Midwest Financial Search Inc. in St. Paul through the boom and crater of the 2000s, specializing in matchmaking banks of all sizes with commercial bankers.

Lydon is a former banker who worked at Marquette Bank and U.S. Bank. Bees recruited for staffing giant Robert Half for 15 years after working at U.S. Bank.

They’re on the front lines of the bank battle to grow loan books in the face of sluggish demand and a painfully slow economic recovery. Banks are competing fiercely for good commercial, or business, loans.

Q: Whom does Midwest Financial primarily serve?

Bees: We’re working with commercial banks primarily in the Twin Cities, occasionally outstate and out of state.

Q: How are you paid?

Bees: It’s basically a finder’s fee. We get paid when they hire someone that we made them aware of. The fee varies, but 30 percent of the first year’s guaranteed compensation is typical. We’re always paid by the banks.

Q: You’ve been in business 10 years now. What’s the biggest change you have seen in your field?

Bees: The advent of social media. It’s both added to our ability to find people, but it’s also made it easier for some of the banks to find people. LinkedIn would be the primary one.

Q: How much of an uptick in activity have you seen as the economy slowly recovers?

Bees: It’s increased steadily over the years since the crisis.

Lydon: In the last 18 to 24 months things have improved, not only the activity level but the types of deals. There’s more emphasis on production and origination of new commercial loans vs. working out bad loans.

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