What is your business industry category or specialty?
Atlantic Capital Bank provides loans and commercial banking services to midsized companies and commercial real estate developers in the Southeast. The bank also provides private banking services to the owners and managers of these companies. We are similar to many European banks in that our bank accounts and cash management systems are electronically based. In other words, a Dutch CFO can easily move money from his Atlantic Capital Bank account via our web-based system whether he’s sitting in Marietta or Amsterdam.
How do you describe your job to people outside the industry?
I provide loans and banking services to foreign-owned companies in the Southeast. The bank provides financing to build new factories and expand existing businesses. I also provide lines of credit for a company’s working capital needs. Working with the bank’s Treasury Management specialists, I provide state-of-the-art cash management systems that are easy to use and are supported by really good customer service. My goal is to make banking easy for a company so it’s management team can focus its energy on growing its business in the U.S.
Who are your main competitors and what differentiates you from the competition? What makes you unique?
We compete successfully against banks of all sizes; from small community banks to global banks like HSBC and Chase. Our team has more experience working with foreign subsidiaries than any other bank in the region. This means we are able to provide financing solutions to companies more often than our competitors do. Atlantic Capital Bank, because of its small size and lack of bureaucracy, also offers its clients a high level of customer service that our competitors can’t replicate. A unique product we offer the executives of our international corporate clients is unsecured personal lines of credit. Newcomers to the U.S. find it impossible to get personal credit card because they don’t have a credit history here. We will provide a $5,000 line of credit to these executives that they can use for a car down payment or use the funds to cash-secure a credit card. This lets them start building a credit history as soon as they land in the U.S.
How was the business started?
Doug Williams, CEO, and Sonny Deriso, Chairman, raised $125 million in equity capital in 2006 to start Atlantic Capital. This was the largest private equity capital raise for a new bank in U.S. history. Half of our shares are owned by private equity groups and the other half are owned by individuals and management. A team of very experienced corporate and commercial real estate bankers was hired and the bank opened for business in May 2007. In five years, during the worst economy since the Great Depression, Atlantic Capital Bank has grown to over $1 billion in assets. It’s hard to believe but that makes us larger than 95% of the banks in the U.S.
How many employees does the business have?
Atlantic Capital Bank has 90 employees in Atlanta.
How did you end up in Atlanta?
I was transferred to Atlanta from Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1991 by Wachovia Bank, a previous employer. Other than five years spent in London from 1997 to 2002, Atlanta has been my home. My wife is a native of Marietta so we’re pretty settled in Atlanta and are happy to call it “home.” Her mother is a native of Atlanta and her family owned a large tract of land where the Lovett School is now. The “Howell” in Howell Mill Road is a branch of my wife’s family. Unfortunately the land was sold off by the family during the Depression so my personal balance sheet isn’t as robust as it could have been!
What is your number one business goal over the next year?
My primary business goal for 2013 is to continue to add new international company relationships to my portfolio of clients. I am optimistic about next year. The economy is picking up steam and new companies continue to pick Georgia as their U.S. headquarters. I always appreciate referrals to these companies.
What is the best advice you have received regarding doing business with Americans/Dutch?
The Netherlands was a primary territory for me during the five years I worked in London. During that time I worked with some of the best known companies in Holland. I found Dutch corporate executives to be very open to new ideas and to be very shrewd when it came time to negotiate bank fees. A Dutch CFO told me a saying once that taught me a lot about Dutch culture: “He who sticks his head above the corn may get it chopped off.” I have a lot of respect for the Dutch egalitarian culture and work ethic.
Any other personal information you would like to share, e.g. hobbies, special interests, family etc…
My wife, Ginger, and I have four daughters. A lot of our time as a family is spent hiking, camping and canoeing. Ginger and I are both very involved with our local schools in Cobb County. I’ve coached girls soccer for the last eight years. Although you could say it’s work related, I enjoy participating in many of the international chamber events in Atlanta. Ever since high school, I have had an interest in international matters. I attended the Universität Salzburg, Austria, during college and earned my MBA from the Thunderbird School of International Management. I feel lucky to live in a city like Atlanta where I can be “southern” while still interacting with people from all over the globe.