SUWANEE - If you ask Bryan Cohen how he became the new president and CEO of Quantum National Bank, he'll tell you it's because of the Dick Cheney effect.
When Cheney was serving on George W. Bush's 2000 exploratory committee to find a vice presidential candidate, he recommended himself after interviewing a few qualified people. The same process worked for Cohen.
"I've been on the board of the bank for six years and was working with those people and the chairman to find somebody to lead it when it sort of became clear to me that I should do it," Cohen said. "But it surely wasn't our intent to do that when we started. It just made sense."
The reason, said the bank's director of marketing, Stephanie Dodd, is that with the challenges faced by banks in the current financial crisis Quantum wanted to take a different approach with its next head of operations.
"Quantum saw Cohen's connection to the community and his ability to understand the customers' needs from all sides as valuable assets to the bank in today's economic environment," Dodd said of the bank, which has more than 6,000 customers and $357 million in assets.
Cohen's link with Suwanee goes way back. Prior to joining Quantum as president and CEO, he spent 17 years as the president of Touchstone Homes, a Suwanee-based home builder and residential development company. In 2007, the firm earned industry recognition being named America's best builder.
For the last six years, Cohen served on the board of directors and various Quantum committees, which exposed him to two points of view - that of the bank and that of the customer. The time was beneficial, Dodd said, because it increased Cohen's knowledge of the financial services industry and showed him firsthand the challenges of running a bank in today's economic climate. And Cohen's masters' degree in finance didn't hurt either.
"An important strength that I bring to our customers is the ability to speak their language and understand what they need from their bank partner to succeed," Cohen said. "We feel strongly this attitude will be the (difference maker) in today's economy."
The bank's founder and chairman of the board agrees.
"The board and senior management recognized that Bryan is as seeded in this community as Quantum," Dr. Narasimhulu Neeglagaru said. "It's time for a new kind of bank and a new kind of banker that is more focused on the community and our customers."