After almost three decades working in banking, Jim Popp made the move to Racine-based Johnson Financial Group. Popp has served as president and chief executive officer of family-owned JFG, which includes Johnson Bank (assets of about $4.7 billion) and Johnson Insurance, since May 2017. BizTimes managing editor Molly Dill recently asked him about his vision for the company.
Below is an excerpt from the interview:
What changes have you made in your first year as CEO?
“It’s performing really well and it’s a strong business. That being said, the industry’s changing dramatically. Our change and our evolution is something that’s going to be a consistent theme for us now and in the years to come.”
With the 2016 acquisition of Cleary Gull Advisors, JFG increased its emphasis on wealth management. Why?
“The demographics of the population in this country are there’s a lot of opportunity in the investment advisory business. Cleary Gull was a top-tier shop in Milwaukee where the partnership was a really great fit with Johnson Financial Group. We’re excited about where they sit today and we’re excited about the future in the wealth business.”
Do you have any new branches planned?
“We don’t necessarily have new branches planned. What we spend a lot of time doing is evaluating the branches we have today and continuing to make them more relevant in terms of what our customer base is looking for. It’s upgrading the technology. It’s adding what our customers are looking for.”
The most recent Federal Reserve numbers indicate commercial and industrial lending standards are a little looser than in years past. Are you seeing a lot of C&I loan demand and competition?
“I think we’re seeing both. The market continues to plow forward, the economy is doing really well, we’re seeing our customers across our footprints expanding their businesses and growing their businesses, which generally involves a need for capital. It’s also very competitive. If you’re a bank that’s not doing well today, then I think you’re doing something wrong. They all have capital and are looking very actively to deploy that capital in the form of commercial loans.”
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