Androscoggin Bank CEO Neil Kiely. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — On Wednesday, company officials at Androscoggin Bank plan to announce that Neil Kiely is officially president and CEO.

Kiely was named president in July 2018 in anticipation of then-CEO Paul Andersen retiring at the end of 2019.

We asked Kiely about his career path, 2020 plans and advice to entrepreneurs, having been one himself.

1. Could you describe a bit the career path that led you to Androscoggin Bank?

I took quite an unusual path to my new role of CEO of Androscoggin Bank. I started my career as a litigation attorney in D.C. I then became general counsel for a Maine company where I discovered that I enjoyed the business challenges more than the legal role. I left to start and operate my own businesses for 10 years. In 2009, I was recruited by a wind and solar company to serve as director of development—New England where I led development teams for these projects.

I was invited to join the board of the bank the same year. In 2015, Paul Andersen, the CEO, asked me to join him in executive management to help him lead a transformation of the bank to reposition us for the future and to eventually succeed him. For me it was a unique opportunity to be a part of a truly mission-driven, values-based company. So I said yes, and I have loved coming to work every day since.


2. What are your 2020 plans as CEO?

As CEO, my focus is always on serving the bank’s three equal stakeholders: our employees, our clients and our communities. For our employees, the 2020 plan is to continue our very intentional approach to building and reinforcing a great culture that combines challenging work with great teammates, professional growth opportunities and lots of recognition, while most importantly, having fun. We are also focused on delivering even more value for all our clients, but especially our business clients, with a variety of new products, technologies and initiatives.

Finally, for our communities, we will be taking a fresh look at how we donate and volunteer our time with a commitment not only to increase both, but with the added goal of substantially elevating the impact of our efforts. Last year alone, we were able to invest over $260,000 in grants, sponsorships and philanthropic donations across the state.

3. For the person on the street who might think, “A bank is a bank,” what sets one institution apart from another?

It is true that a lot of banks may look the same from the outside, but actually there are a number of differences that can really impact the value and experience a client receives. For example, banks differ in the types of services they offer and the level of expertise they have available. Some banks are more consumer focused while others are more commercially focused. Banks also differ greatly in size and there are large differences between stock banks and mutual banks.

To me though, the biggest difference comes down to culture; the shared beliefs, values and behaviors of everyone in the bank. How does a bank’s culture value its own employees? This will have a major impact on how they take care of their clients. It also impacts turnover. Does the culture value excellence or is “good enough,” good enough? Is it a proactive culture or do they wait for you to call? Is it an honest culture that makes you feel like you can trust the advice you get? And if community matters to you, how does their culture demonstrate their commitment to the community? Once you understand how banks can vary, it empowers you to seek out an institution that matches your values, needs and expectations which ultimately leads to a much richer banking relationship.


4. One issue or policy you’re following this winter at the state or federal level, and what impact could it have on your business?

Cybersecurity and safeguarding the privacy of our clients’ information is a critical priority for us. We are continually investing in new technology, deepening our expertise and sharing information with our clients to enable them to better protect themselves. Two years ago, California enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act, inspired by the EU’s General Privacy Data Protection Regulation. Many other states have followed California, including Maine, enacting their own cybersecurity-related legislation calling for more comprehensive data privacy and security laws. New regulations will require new processes, potentially new technology, and additional ways of monitoring suspicious behaviors. We follow all of these developments closely so that we are prepared to institute changes and keep our clients’ data secure.

5. Entrepreneurial takeaway or advice from your own background that another business owner could apply to himself or herself today?

Never let yourself be constrained by limiting beliefs, either yours or those of others. The greatest opportunities come from challenges that others are convinced cannot be overcome or because they simply lack the courage to try. In my experience, there is always a solution or always a way, but you have to first start with the belief that success is possible.

6. It has just snowed 20 inches and you’re marooned in a Maine cabin the woods with electricity but no WiFi. How are you passing the time?

Smiling. I have never needed the excuse of being marooned to get into the woods when it is snowing either on foot or cross-country skis. I love the depth of the silence and the beauty of an untouched landscape. And when I finally come in, I am definitely reaching for a book. Usually, I am reading to learn something new, but in a cabin like that I would reach for a favorite, like Robert Ruark’s “Old Man and The Boy,” a collection of short stories about a boy who is taught to hunt and fish by his grandfather, but the real lessons are about character, values and relationships, along with a deep respect for nature.

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