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St. Louis RCGA

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 banker’s hours.

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 there.

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 by assets.

“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.”

<< FastStats >>

Shaun Hayes
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 Missouri Bank.
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 your career?

> 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 here.

>> 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 City?

> 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 win.

I also want get my five kids through college—that’s a real motivator for me!

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.



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