April 9, 2024
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Q &A With Cross River’s Shimon Eisikowicz, EVP and Chief Lending Officer

Shimon Eisikowicz

Tell us first about yourself and Cross River.

I am the Executive Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer at Cross River, where I leverage almost twenty-seven years of banking, credit and lending experience to lead our commercial lending team. When I joined Cross River shortly after its founding, my goal was to build the Bank’s Commercial Real Estate (CRE) lending platform and I built our team with a focus on relationships and the client experience as the foundation. We approach our business with a customer-first attitude and maintain an intimate knowledge of the client and his/her business. Due in part to this focus, our team has successfully originated more than $2B in CRE loans with above industry average NIMs coupled with $0 losses / defaults to the bank. Almost 15 years later, I remain directly involved in the portfolio management of these loans, including the successful sale and participation of whole and partial loans to other community and regional banks, totaling more than $850M. I’m on numerous bank committees including CRA, ALLL, ALCO, OMC, loan committee, credit committee in addition to LICO.

Cross River is a state-chartered, FDIC-regulated bank and full-stack financial technology infrastructure provider, powering some of the largest fintech companies. We leverage our proprietary real-time banking core to deliver innovative and scalable embedded payments, cards and lending solutions. Our two banking branches in Teaneck and Brooklyn serve clients with personal and business banking services, including savings accounts, checking accounts and CDs.

And Cross River plays a significant role in the local community here, is that right?

Yes, our commitment to our community began the day we opened our doors. Cross River was founded on the tenets of community and giving, and we are constantly looking for opportunities to connect with and support our communities—both in our backyard and around the world. Our philanthropic arm, Foundation@Cross River, supports programs and projects that provide not-for-profit community organizations with the funds and services needed to achieve their goals.

We partner with local organizations like the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to provide lifeline grants to minority small business owners through our Small Business Grant program with the Chamber. In 2022 alone, we provided over $200,000 to local businesses in need via the program.

We also work with groups like Operation Hope to offer Hope Inside Cross River at both our branch locations, which has seen incredible success. Hope Inside Cross River provides financial literacy education and financial planning to empower local small business owners and individuals, arming them with the tools they need on their path to financial stability and freedom.

You’ve achieved a significant amount of success in the commercial lending space over the past year, can you tell us a bit about that?

We’re proud that this year the team closed nearly one billion dollars in financing for varying asset classes and markets. The loans range in size from $450,000 to $81 million, supporting the smallest to largest real estate business across the country, and they vary among asset types. This includes over $66 million in lender finance loans during the first two quarters of 2023 and over $250 million for healthcare facilities. Our capabilities support loans nationwide in multiple asset classes, including multifamily, retail, industrial, mixed-use, construction, warehouse, healthcare facilities and lines of credit.

This achievement speaks volumes to the team’s drive and our commitment to our clients in these challenging times. While other lenders have closed the door on their clients, we’ve used this opportunity to work closely with our borrowers and produce tailored solutions for them without compromising on credit quality.

To what do you attribute your team’s success when it’s a challenging environment?

Cross River has never been deterred by times of market hardship and recession, and this is evident as far back as the bank’s inception during the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Similarly in the current environment, while many banks are on the sidelines for various reasons, Cross River is focused on using the current market environment as an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to both our clients and the businesses we serve, while also identifying niches that are born in times of challenge.

What sets us apart from others is our client-first approach, which is truly a part of our DNA at Cross River. We intentionally built our business on this foundation from day one and have found that serving others yields success. This is further supported by our ability to merge our technological capabilities with our industry-leading expertise, which has allowed our CRE team to scale and offer warehouse lines of credit across the country, with a streamlined approval process, resulting in faster closing times. Our approach has always been to focus on the relationship and how we can meet the borrower’s needs with our solutions, regardless of external factors like rising rates.

Speaking of opportunity, where is the Bank focused as we close out the end of the year and enter a new year?

We’re always focused on serving the needs of our community and so, with the economy facing difficulties, we wanted to review what we could do to help. For Cross River, that means rising to the needs of consumers and businesses to meet them with the products they require—such as the ability to maximize savings and make their money work for them. To this end, our banking team recently raised our rates for business and personal savings and CD accounts, to allow our clients to maximize and grow their savings. Since then, our branches have served three to four times more customers with new CDs and account openings. It’s great to see such a positive reaction from customers and it reinforces the mutual benefit when banks truly listen to the needs of their customers.

As the bank enters 2024, our Commercial Banking Group is focused on creating seamless relationships between the group and depositors. As we head into the new year, our strategy is to marry the account relationship with the lending relationship to enable us to seamlessly facilitate customer service and design products around borrowers’ needs. This will also allow us to offer a more robust product suite, at more competitive turns and rates, both on the lending and deposit side.

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