GonzoBaker of the Month: Frank Trotter, EverBank Direct

R.A. Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Fri Sep 12 17:33:10 PDT 2008


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Friday, September 12, 2008

GonzoBaker of the Month: Frank Trotter, EverBank Direct

For September, we laud Frank Trotter, President of EverBank Direct,
for a devotion to sensible banking practices that has helped EverBank
slide unscathed  and with growth to boot  past the credit crisis 
and for his commitment to cementing the word relationship in the
lexicon of online banking.

Name: Frank Trotter
Title: President, EverBank Direct (Assets: $6.02B)
Gonzo Title: The Prudent Man

Alma Mater: Frank received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from
St. Olaf in Northfield, Minn., and his MBA from Washington University
in St. Louis. Frank tells GonzoBanker he was drawn to the cold climes
of Minnesota primarily for the hockey  but it was the great academics
that got his parents on board.

 From Chemistry to  Banking? It was the MBA that did it. Frank
developed an interest in Finance studying for his MBA under top
level banking and finance professors such as Jess Yawitz and Bill
Marshall. I was primarily considering consulting jobs (odd in
retrospect since I had no serious experience) when I was introduced to
Mark Twain Bank. After hearing and being recruited by Chairman Adam
Aronson and President John Dubinsky I was sold on the opportunity.

Previous Gigs: Before founding EverBank Direct, Frank served as Senior
Vice President and Managing Director of Mercantile Bank Capital
Markets, and Director of the International Markets Division at Mark
Twain Bank, where he created the WorldCurrencyTM family of deposits
and directed the global launch of eCashTM.

That Ol Black Magic. A former Mark Twain banker, Frank does nothing
to dispel the perception that MT alumni tend to practice extreme
entrepreneurialism  the kind that has resulted in many going on to
create innovative, highly successful business ventures like EverBank
Direct. Frank believes the correlation between Mark Twain bankers and
start up success is that Mark Twain tended to select individuals with
entrepreneurial leanings and because it developed in its employees a
rational risk taking approach. The [Mark Twain] culture was critical
to fostering the kind of environment we value here at EverBank, said

Melding the precepts of Mark Twain and other innovator organizations,
Frank has helped fashion at EverBank a distinct business culture based
on a philosophy of critical thinking. Many on the team have built a
division or business line or product line from the ground up and the
general directive to start the morning by asking, How can I do it
better? comes naturally. Frank noted that EverBank employees tend to
view their daily work, problem solving and customer relations in light
of the question, Why are we doing it this way? The right answer,
according to Frank, is because its the best way to do it; not
because its the way we do it.

A Clear Vision. As EverBanks founders  Frank, Rob Foregger, Vincent
Amato and David Galland  assessed the banking environment in the late
1990s, they saw a bit of mess. Frank described the scene as, Branches
with long lines and a reputation (deserved or undeserved) for
surliness, myriad fees and low rates for savers. While Frank and his
partners were not the only ones at that time seeking to harness the
power of the Internet to bypass brick and mortar, they did have a
differentiated end game  offering customers a private banking level
of service and a high value proposition. Frank noted, We wanted to
create a relationship that our customers would value and that would
cause them to cement a strong bond with the bank.

The path toward this goal was multi-pronged: that is, offer a full
line of services, practice cost containment with a thrifty approach
and elimination of multiple pricing, and provide service excellence
sufficient to transcend the barrier of anonymity common to Internet
banking. As a result, EverBank has able to offer its customers the
EverBank Yield PledgeSM, which states that Yield Pledge products will
always have a yield among the top 5% of competitive accounts offered
by leading banks. Our customers dont ever have to worry about
EverBank not providing a fair return, said Frank.

Want in on a Secret? EverBanks market demographic is wide ranging,
but its not uncommon for customers to view holding an account there
as being part of an exclusive club. That feeling is fostered in part
by the way EverBank strives to create a sense of partnership between
itself and its clients. We try to instill for our customers a culture
that says, You are part of an innovative enterprise that is looking
out for you, said Frank. To that end, EverBank has found that face-
to-face relationship building at events across the country is
important to maintaining a bond. Without a physical structure, said
Frank, conferences, meetings and dinners become a kind of rolling
branch. Looking someone in the eye is more informative than looking at
a pile of statistics. We like to see the passion in peoples eyes.

Going Mano a Mano with Mainstream Banking. Frank is convinced that
while EverBank stands out from its online peers, the distinction is
even clearer when it comes to mainstream banks. Main Street is still
touting free checking while paying little or no interest, Frank

We were amused by the recent advertisement from a major institution
covering their checking product  instead of great rates or low fees
or better service you can have a baseball team logo on your checks 
talk about a great banking value! Guess you have to cover the cost of
branches somehow.
Big Bang Projects. Many of the projects that have Frank and his team
charged up have a large impact on efficiency and customer experience.
He noted that EverBanks National Home Loan Group recently implemented
a new Loan Officer Work Bench that was developed internally to
streamline the process for loan officers to better assist customers in
obtaining mortgages. On the global investing (and customer-facing)
side, Frank said the team is energized by the launch of its Global
Market Resources, where EverBank provides facts and analysis for
currency markets around the world. This puts all the information
necessary for a customer to make an informed decision at their
fingertips, he said.

Advice for Fellow GonzoBankers. When assessing a project, Frank
maintains a laser beam focus on customer impact alongside internal
organizational benefits. Without [the customer impact] element, the
project ROI will not happen, he asserted. Frank noted that, before a
project is approved, an extensive checklist of customer conditions
must be met; during and after project execution, how well these
conditions are being met is constantly evaluated and adjustments are
made as necessary.

Next on the List? As a noted innovator in the area of currency markets
and direct to consumer banking, Frank has been responsible for many
industry firsts. GonzoBanker asked him whats next. Ill have to keep
most of these under wraps but high on the list is providing investment
and wealth management services in a direct environment. And as always,
were looking at a lot of alternatives in the World Markets area.

Chillin. Frank plays ice hockey 3 to 4 times a week and has added in
some outdoor soccer to torture myself more. Doing active stuff with
the family is also a priority. Frank, his wife Carol, and his girls,
Jessica (24) and Erica (21), will be in the Galapagos in December on a
multi-sport tour of the island.

Fave Movie. Candidates include Blade Runner, The Man Who Would be
King, Snatch and The Meaning of Life.

Feeding the iPod. Im not sure I can listen to all of what is there
now, commented Frank, even on a flight to Australia. New stuff
includes Vertical Horizon, many things the kids load on when hes not
looking and a pretty complete Warren Zevon catalogue.

GonzoBanker is inspired by Franks commitment to creating a more
perfect model for direct to consumer banking and is proud to donate
$250 in Franks name to Grace Hill Neighborhood Health Center in St.
Louis. A division of Grace Hill Settlement House, in operation in St.
Louis for over 100 years, the health centers goal is to help
neighbors help neighbors. Franks mother was the medical director
there for many years and Frank said, We continue to believe in the

Article written by Diana Ferguson

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