By Laurie Burstein
Shaun Hayes is not your typical banker. Starting with
his daily 6 a.m. five-mile run, he’s in the office by 8 a.m.
with at least one or two breakfast meetings and then it’s back-to-back
meetings all day, usually followed by a dinner event. Not exactly
His business associates and employees say he has boundless energy
and a real ability to get things done. Perhaps that’s what enabled
the 47-year-old Hayes to launch his own bank at the age of 29
and built it into a financial institution with $2.5 billion
in assets. Today as president of National City in Missouri,
Hayes has big plans for the bank and a passion for making a
contribution to the St. Louis region.
Hayes’ 25-year banking career took off right out of college.
He likes to say he got into banking by default. Born in the
small town of Thayer, Mo., his parents didn’t give him too much
guidance, except to say be anything you want, but don’t be a
banker. But he got into banking because it was the best job
offer he had after college at the University of Missouri at
Columbia. His first job was as a management trainee at UMB.
He went on to spend the first seven years of his banking career
In 1989, Hayes co-founded Allegiant Bank. It began with one
bank in Kahoka, Mo. near Iowa, and Hayes recalls commuting 160
miles to work from St. Louis. He was only 29-years-old at the
time, and says his youth and energy kept him going. “I had a
lot of energy when we started Allegiant, and didn’t have any
pre-conceived notions that we couldn’t get things done.”
Hayes then moved to a remote location on Grand Avenue and began
financing housing and construction loans in the City. Hayes
and Allegiant Bank soon developed a reputation for being aggressive,
and financing projects that might not otherwise get done.
Allegiant went on to acquire other banks and become a large
regional player with $2.5 billion in assets. But after a successful
15 year run, Hayes felt it was time for the next step and in
2004 Allegiant was acquired by National City Corporation, headquartered
in Cleveland, Ohio, the 10th largest U.S. bank holding company
“We picked National City to acquire Allegiant because of its
160-plus-year history and very community-oriented approach,”
Hayes explains. It was a big win for St. Louis when National
City came here in 2004. We’ve already gone from 36 branches
to 57 branches, and are headed to more than 65 by the end of
2009. We’ve added 150 jobs and now employ 700 people in the
region,” Hayes says.
Hayes continues, “It was really the natural evolution of things.
In banking, scale does matter. National City is the eighth largest
bank in the country and now I have the expertise of so many
good people at my fingertips. I also have a bigger tool box
of products and services that I can bring into this region that
I didn’t have before,” he says.
One of those tools that Hayes is extremely enthusiastic about
is National City’s Community Development Corporation (CDC).
National City is very active in investing in all kinds of urban
revitalization projects, especially low-to-moderate income housing.
Two examples of National City’s bigger CDC projects are downtown—The
Marquette Building and The Syndicate Trust Building. Both projects
entail the rehabilitation of historic buildings into viable
mixed-use housing and office spaces. National City is providing
construction financing for both projects and is investing in
state and federal historic tax credits for further funding.
“It’s great for St. Louis that National City is doing all this
CDC investing in the region. It creates jobs, housing and economic
activity. Since National City came to St. Louis, we have invested
$91 million in CDC projects here. In fact, since National City
arrived in St. Louis, the only market where we’ve made a greater
commitment is Cleveland. We recognize it’s good for the community
and a good investment for National City.”
Those who know Hayes best from a business standpoint include
his longtime lawyer Tom Litz and Leon Felman, the largest shareholder
in Allegiant Bank.
Litz of Thompson Coburn has been Hayes’ lawyer and friend for
17 years. The two became acquainted when Allegiant was just
getting started. Litz describes Hayes as a very bright, no-nonsense
guy, and a real people person.
“Because of his small-town humble beginnings, Shaun can relate
to people from all walks of life,” Litz says. “He believes in
working hard and is willing to help others who also believe
in hard work. Everything he has accomplished has been through
his tremendous energy and resolve.”
Felman is another big fan of Hayes. As an original investor
in Allegiant Bank, Felman and Hayes have known each other for
about 18 years. Felman recalls meeting Hayes when he was in
his late twenties and just getting Allegiant off the ground.
“There was something special about Shaun’s personality and his
new ideas in banking that really wowed me,” Felman says. “From
the first time I met him, he was very impressive.”
Felman, who is now an investor in National City, has been investing
in financial institutions for the last thirty years. “Shaun
had the dream of building a big banking operation in St. Louis,
and he made his dreams come true. He has been successful for
many reasons—his ability to retain so much knowledge and knowing
everyone in this city. He is a very capable banker, but more
than that, he can see the potential in something, and turn it
into a success.”
Hayes likes working with young employees at National City and
took Andy Baker under his wing when he moved here three years
ago. “Shaun has so much St. Louis knowledge. He helped me get
acquainted very quickly.” Baker added, “Part of my job is to
find new branches, and Shaun is a great manager because he can
easily recall bank locations from years ago.”
Baker continues, “As a leader, Shaun is always challenging us
to think more and do more. He is always asking us how we can
support the community more. Shaun is 100 percent engaged in
everything he does, and has the ability to keep many balls in
the air at once.”
Today, Hayes says, if National City were a stand-alone bank
in St Louis, it would have $3 billion assets.
Hayes has big plans for National City’s future. “My goal for
National City in ten years is to be the major player in banking
who helps drive the economy and is top three in market share
in the region.”
With 25 years in banking behind him, Hayes says he still finds
it very rewarding. “One of the most gratifying things about
being a banker is driving around the community and seeing Allegiant,
and now National City, financing signs on so many different
projects. I know we have made a contribution.”
President-Missouri Banking, National City
Age: 47 years-old.
Hometown: Thayer, Mo.
College: Degree in financing
and banking from the University of Missouri-Columbia, 1982.
Career: Twenty five years
in the banking industry. Spent first seven years with United
Highlights: Co-founded Allegiant
Bank in 1989. Built Allegiant into a $2.5 billion bank and merged
with National City in 2004. Oversees all Missouri banking operations
for National City.
Family: Wife, Kelly, and
five children ages three through 19.
Business Philosophy: The
world is run by people who show up and do what they say they
are going to do and return phone calls.
>> How did your upbringing influence
> I grew up in Thayer,
Mo., which is close to Arkansas and has a population of just
2,200. Growing up in a small town, you know everyone and have
to get along with everybody. Thayer was a great place to grow
up, because you had interactions with everyone from the poorest
to the richest people in town. This helped me in the banking
business, where you have to be able to work with everyone without
any pre-conceived ideas.
>> What were your significant
accomplishments at Allegiant?
> The development of
so many great people was a big accomplishment. We had three
bank CEOs come out of Allegiant.
I would also say all the construction and development we financed
in areas that were considered risky. We have taken the lead
in bringing parts of the City back to life. One example is Washington
Avenue, where we played a big role.
>> What about your reputation
for being aggressive and getting things done?
> I am very results-oriented.
On the back on every notepad I have it says ‘results.’ As long
as it’s legal and moral, I will do what I can to get results.
>> With National City, how are
you making an impact in the community?
> Through our Community
Development Corporation, National City is financing housing
projects in urban suburbs in St. Louis City. We have the ability
to finance those projects that just wouldn’t get done without
our CDC investment.
We can do something as small as a four or six or twelve family
housing units all the way to a $100 million project. National
City really fills a need here because the smaller banks don’t
have CDC’s and the larger banks tend to only do very large projects.
One recent example is Roberts Place Apartments in St. Louis
City. There was a vacant school building near Delmar and Union
that was an eyesore. That all changed when the building was
rehabbed and converted into quality housing units. National
City provided commercial construction financing and federal
tax equity for the project.
We have financed projects all over the City in places like Benton
Park and Lafayette Square. We also go in to areas that are considered
more risky. We just agreed to give the City of Kinloch financing
for some projects there. It really gives you a sense of accomplishment
that you made a difference.
>> What are some of the other
ways National City is giving back to the region?
> It’s important for
people to know that although we may not be headquartered in
St. Louis, we have made a huge investment in this market and
we want to make a difference with our charitable dollars. Since
arriving in St. Louis three years ago, National City has contributed
more than $3 million to local charitable organizations.
In May, National City gave $500,000 over five years to Saint
Louis Zoo’s Sea Lion Show. As a kid I have great memories of
going to the Zoo, and we wanted to do something for this St.
Louis institution. I like to tell people that this is the most
fun I ever had giving away money. As part of the sponsorship,
the arena has been renovated and the venue has been renamed
the National City Sea Lion Arena. It puts a smile on your face
when you can work with the world-renowned Saint Louis Zoo and
make an impact in the community.
In August, we held our third national Day of Caring where we
had 350 employees go out into the community and spend the afternoon
volunteering at 10 different nonprofit organizations including
the Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club and St. Patrick Center.
>> What is your take on the St.
Louis economy right now?
> The good news/bad news
is we are a slow growth economy. We don’t suffer from the highs
and lows here. We have a nice diversification across many industries
from financial services and healthcare to law, accounting, architecture
and engineering. While we may not have the faster growth we
would like, we are consistent and that’s good.
What we have to do as a region is figure out how to grow faster
than peer communities like Cincinnati, Minneapolis and Kansas
City. If we can grow faster than they are, then we will have
the best of all worlds. We really have the best quality of life
>> What are the biggest changes
you have seen in the banking industry here in the last 10 years?
> We’ve seen large regional
and national players move into this market. This has created
both opportunities and challenges. It’s brought more competition,
which is ultimately good for business.
>> What other trends will we
see in banking?
> We will continue to
see more consolidation. We will have a few very large players
and a lot of small players. If you are in the middle, it’s going
to be hard to survive. That’s why Allegiant choose to become
part of National City.
>> What do you like about doing
business in St. Louis?
> I love the song “Where
Everybody Knows Your Name” from the TV show Cheers. That’s what
I like about St. Louis. You can’t go anywhere where you don’t
know someone. I like that small town feeling. It also makes
it easy to do business here—you know who the players are.
>> What do you like to do when
you are not working?
> I run five miles every
day. In the summer I like to play in the pool with my five children.
I also love to read, especially books about history.
>> What’s ahead for you and National
> I’ve got 25 more years
of work in me and I really want to see National City be in the
top three in this market. I’m very competitive and I play to
I also want get my five kids through college—that’s a real motivator
But at the end of the day, I want to leave a mark on this community.
That’s why I’m involved in so many great organizations like
Saint Louis University, Forest Park Forever, the Zoo, the United
Way and many others. If I can make a difference in making the
St. Louis community a better place, then I have succeeded.