PBN's Five Questions With: Michael Clarkin
May 14, 2020
By Nancy Lavin- May 11, 2020
Michael Clarkin serves as senior vice president and corporate sales manager for The Washington Trust Co., where he has worked since 2010.
He previously worked in accounting and finance for the state of Rhode Island and several private companies before becoming a commercial loan officer in 1986. He has bachelor’s degrees in business administration and accounting, both from Bryant University.
PBN: How does the volume of U.S. Small Business Administration loans that Washington Trust has processed over the course of the Paycheck Protection Program funding compare to its normal activities as an SBA lender under other loan programs?
CLARKIN: As we all might agree, these are extraordinary times. A couple of weeks ago the SBA indicated that, under the Paycheck Protection Program, they had processed 14 years of loans in just 14 days. Washington Trust’s goal has been to help as many businesses within the communities where we work and live. We have always enjoyed a tremendous working relationship with the SBA and its director, Mark [S.] Hayward. This has proven to be vital as we work together through the details of the program.
PBN: How has the bank changed its process to accommodate an increase in loan application and closing volume?
CLARKIN: We developed a process and system to capture PPP applications through closing. At the same time, we recruited and redeployed more than 100 employees from every department throughout the company. Team leaders were assigned to each strategic task and specific expectations were set. Daily meetings were held with senior management to discuss challenges and solutions. Internal communication played a key part in helping us stay focused and achieve our goals.
PBN: What has been the biggest challenge associated with overseeing the PPP loan process?
CLARKIN: Our executive management team, including Ned Handy, Chairman and CEO; and Mark [K. W.] Gim, president and [chief operating officer], and other key leaders, have been fully engaged in the program since day one. Their leadership and the commitment of our dedicated employees has enabled us to meet all challenges despite the tight time frame. Even with our teams working remotely from home, we have taken these challenges head-on and worked at a feverish pace to help our community and local businesses who are in need.
PBN: What have you learned and improved upon as the program has continued?
CLARKIN: We get better and more efficient every day. Once again, strong and consistent communication has been key. Also, the strength of our corporate culture has been paramount to the success of our efforts, as Washington Trust has a long history of doing what’s right for our customers and the community. Overall, it has been an amazing team effort and I am extremely proud of our employees and what we have accomplished in such a short time frame.
PBN: How will this change the bank’s loan process and strategy as a whole in the future?
CLARKIN: Our strategy before, during and after COVID-19 has and will always be the same: our customers come first and customer service is our top priority. Regardless of the process, we will always provide a personal touch because that’s why customers choose Washington Trust.
Nancy Lavin is a staff writer for PBN. Contact her at Lavin@PBN.com.