Tidwell, Texas A&M Commercial Banking Program Chair, Enlists Bankers’ Help to Nurture Industry Talent

By Cecil H. Arnim III, Senior Vice President and Group Manager, Commercial Banking, Green Bank, Houston

In January, Brad Tidwell, president and CEO of Henderson, Texas-based Citizens National Bank, began a three-year term as chairman of the Commercial Banking Program Advisory Board at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. He took over the position held by the advisory board’s founding chairman, Robert Messer, senior executive vice president and CFO of American National Bank of Texas in Terrell. In addition, Geoff Greenwade, president and CEO of Houston-based Green Bank NA, is the advisory board’s new vice chairman.

A co-founder of the Commercial Banking Program, Tidwell brings more than 33 years of experience in commercial lending, credit administration and executive management to his chairmanship. He holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and a master’s degree in agricultural finance from Texas A&M University, home of the innovative banking program he now chairs. In a career that’s included time at Allied Bancshares, JPMorgan Chase and Bank One, in 2008, Tidwell was named president and CEO at Citizens National Bank. Since then, the bank has grown from $700 million to more than $2.2 billion in assets.

The Commercial Banking Program began when two finance professors at Texas A&M, Dr. Jim Kolari and Dr. Sorin Sorescu, pitched the idea to a group of Aggie bankers, including Robert Messer, Dwight Garey, Geoff Greenwade, Russell Marshall and Tidwell. In 2011, the program was launched as a collaborative effort between Texas A&M and the banking industry.

Since its founding, it has graduated approximately 160 students into full-time positions at banks across Texas and Oklahoma. The program now offers both undergraduate- and graduate-level opportunities and has partnered with the Risk Management Association to incorporate that organization’s credit analysis class into the curriculum. The class is taught by visiting bankers throughout the spring semester and provides students with practical knowledge to take with them to summer internships.

Among the issues that the Commercial Banking Program has sought to address is the growing concern that the banking industry suffers from a talent shortage. Specifically, there has been a dearth of trained entry-level talent seeking employment at banks, a problem compounded by the growing number of baby-boomer-aged bankers heading into retirement.

Additional threats contributing to the shortage include the elimination of in-house training programs and an increasing number of employment options at finance industry alternatives. Community banks across the state have been hit the hardest from the talent risk, but the Commercial Banking Program is determined to help the industry educate and promote an abundance of human resources.

During his tenure as chairman, Tidwell is focusing on three primary goals. First is to continue to grow the program, both in terms of student enrollment and funding. Financial contributions from the banking industry, along with industries that support commercial banking, are critical to ensure the stability and long-term viability of the program.

Tidwell’s second goal is to build a stable funding base by widening bank membership in the program, eventually enabling the establishment of a permanent endowment, which will help attract top talent to the program.

The third, and most ambitious, goal is to create a nationally recognized research institute for commercial banking that would provide cutting-edge research and be the premier data provider for the commercial banking industry.

In order to accomplish these goals, Tidwell is urging community, regional and national banks to expand internship and mentoring opportunities for banking students, and to take part in programs like the one at Texas A&M. He and his colleagues stress that increasing banker involvement nationwide is the key to the long-term success of both the program and the industry.

The Mays Business School at Texas A&M University educates more than 6,400 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply-chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its programs and faculty research.

Published in Bankers Digest, April 23, 2018