LEWISTON — Nearly 32 years ago, sitting 30 feet from his current office on Lisbon Street, Paul Andersen took a job as Androscoggin Bank’s first commercial loan officer.
“At that time, we were about a $100 million bank in terms of assets,” Andersen said. “Just (Tuesday), we passed the $1 billion mark.”
After three decades with the bank, the last seven as president and CEO, Neil Kiely has taken over Andersen’s role as president, Androscoggin Bank announced on Thursday. Kiely will also become CEO at the end of 2019, when Andersen will leave day-to-day duties and become chairman of the board.
Kiely, 51, from Falmouth, sat on the board of directors for five years before becoming the bank’s chief strategic officer and general counsel in 2015. Last year, he also became chief operating officer.
Kiely said he’s helped start up marketing and internet companies, invested in real estate development and other businesses and worked in wind and solar power.
Being from outside of banking, he said, creates a “steep learning curve,” but also means he’s not married to how things have always been done.
“As an entrepreneur, I have a laser focus on increasing client value and improving their experience,” Kiely said. “As an attorney, I have the ability to understand the rules and then how you innovate within those rules, and that’s particularly helpful in the banking industry, given how heavily it’s regulated.
“Finally, as a business owner myself, I’ve stood in the shoes of many of our clients,” he said, “so I understand their challenges and their needs.”
He sees Androscoggin Bank continuing to grow. It’s added 38 positions in the past three years, now up to 170 employees.
Over the years, in addition to a commercial loan officer, Andersen has been acting chief financial officer, acting marketing director, acting human resources director and held other positions.
Banking, he said, was a good fit from the start.
“I have always been fascinated with numbers,” Andersen said. “I can look at a balance sheet or a complex interest statement and see everything that I need to see very quickly.”
Board Chairman Pasquale “Pat” Maiorino, on the board for more than 30 years, was ready to retire, Andersen said. Maiorino has “done a fantastic job, Neil is ready, the timing is right, so here we go.”
Andersen, who lives in New Gloucester, said one of his career highlights was something Androscoggin Bank didn’t do: It chose not to accept federal money during the Great Recession’s bank bailout.
“A thousand people came up to me during that time period, pointing a finger at me, ‘Did you take the bailout?'” he said. “People were angry about banks failing and then their taxpayer dollars bailing out banks. I was very proud to be able to say to everyone, ‘Thanks, but no, we did not take the bailout and we will not be.'”
He said he’s seen a lot of changes, and for the better.
“When I first got into this business, there was more of an attitude of, ‘We’ll let you know if we’ll do anything for you or not.’ It wasn’t as hospitable to the client as it is today,” he said. “People are busy doing what they do and they really just want banking to work. They don’t want to be stressed out by banking, so we’re trying to remove the stress.”
In his new role, Kiely said he looks forward to exploring “some of the larger challenges facing our community and to get involved in a deeper level.”
After working on Lisbon Street for more than three decades and seeing all of the activity in recent years, Andersen said he was excited to see the new Lewiston Downtown Association announced last week.
“I have never been more bullish on Lewiston-Auburn than I am today,” he said. “We’re very proud to be a Lewiston-Auburn-based company. That’s in our DNA and we’re putting all sorts of effort into being the best bank we can be for this community, in all ways, not just as a bank, but giving back, having our employees volunteer, lending money in the community, keeping depositors’ money safe. We will be expanding what we do in Lewiston in due course as well.”
Paul Andersen (Submitted photo)
Neil Kiely (Submitted photo)