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Commercial lending expert banks on relationships
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Commercial lending expert banks on relationships

Relationships are the key to success for banker David Korngruen.
Relationships are the key to success for banker David Korngruen.

The Economic Response Initiative, sponsored by Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey, runs networking groups to help job-seekers. One group meets in Elizabeth on Monday mornings, another gathers in Scotch Plains on Wednesdays.

The two-hour meetings, led by counselors Sheri Brown or Carol Einhorn, help participants with both the basics and the fine points of job hunting. Topics have included cover letters and resumes, interview preparation, and follow-up communications. Other sessions have served as tutorials for LinkedIn and such computer applications as Excel and PowerPoint.

For more information, contact Brown or Einhorn at 908-352-8375.

Because he’s a banker, money makes David Korngruen’s professional world go around. But he places just as much value on relationships, which has made him a successful banker over the years.

That client-focused approach is central to his search for a new position. He would like to remain in financial services with a small- to medium-sized bank or other financial firm, such as an asset management company. Geographically he’s quite flexible, considering the New York metropolitan area; Washington, DC; and Philadelphia as options. What’s important to him, he stressed, is to make an impact and contribute to growth.

Starting out as a credit analyst at a mid-sized bank, Korngruen worked his way up to vice president, responsible for managing commercial lending relationships as well as a large loan portfolio. For his commercial lending officer role, he did everything from negotiating with customers, which included fine-tuning financial and legal covenants, to preparing the documentation needed to close deals. Finally, he had to make the appropriate written and oral presentations to the bank’s management to gain approval for each loan.

As a portfolio manager, Korngruen oversaw the day-to-day administration of 17 commercial accounts totaling $117 million. His duties ranged from ensuring timely issuance of loans and letters of credit to resolving individual customer issues. The latter ran the gamut from poorly performing loans to broken covenants, as well as customers who wanted to borrow more than they had qualified for. In each case, he addressed both the customer’s and the bank’s needs.

Maintaining the credit quality of the loan portfolio was, of course, critical, so Korngruen monitored account activity and performed due diligence to meet the bank’s guidelines. To round out his job description, he represented the bank at business and social functions around the New York metropolitan area.

Korngruen has worked with a broad swath of clients, from the largest party rental supply company on the East Coast to a small wholesaler of athletic performance wear based in New Jersey. Clients’ sales ranged from $1.5 million to $300 million.

Focusing on customer service, he helped owners or officers of client companies with their personal financing needs by directing them to the wealth management division of the bank, which could provide them with investment advice and products such as high-interest-paying checking accounts. Serving all a client’s needs was part of “what’s necessary to get the job done,” Korngruen explained.

It is the way he worked with a large apparel manufacturer. “As the business grew, I was able to support them,” he noted, citing how the company tripled the size of its line of credit, from about $10.5 million to $35 million over a decade.

In keeping with his attention to the needs of the principals, Korngruen also helped them and family members with personal accounts at the bank. This continued through a generational change in the company’s management.

Thanks to Korngruen’s efforts, his bank achieved equal lending status with a major bank on that account. Moreover, he helped obtain loans for family members’ related start-up businesses. “When other banks wouldn’t do this, I was able to get it accomplished,” he said. The critical factor was his willingness to help these smaller businesses because he had an established relationship with the principals of the main company.

“Forging long-lasting, mutually successful financial relationships” is — in Korngruen’s own words — his “business as a banker.”

Libby Bruch is a journalist specializing in the financial services industry. Her stories range from the effects of legislation such as health-care reform and financial overhaul to product innovation and shareholder activism.

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