ABA Banking Journal - November 2008 - (Page 34)
COVER STORY Arthur Connelly steps up to ABA’s top post at a time of unimaginable change. He brings to the job 44 years of experience and a remarkable reserve of energy, both of which he likely will need b re a c h Smithtown, provided leadership during both the buildup and the hurricane, even receiving a personal call from Treasury Secretary Paulson at one critical moment late in September. Connelly and the other ABA officers were all involved, but now Connelly, the first ABA chairman from a mutual institution since 1938, moves to the point. He is simultaneously a gregarious, upbeat person, a cautious banker, and a keen observer of changing markets who has managed to keep his bank competitive for more than two decades. Into the N PHOTOS BY MICHAEL MALONEY ew Englanders know storms. They have the occasional hurricane, which moves in fast, hits hard, and is gone. And then they have their particular specialty, the Nor’easter. Unnamed and little noticed on national news, these storms come at any time of year with gale-force winds, heavy rains or snow, and high tides and high surf that pound away for days on end. What if the two came together? Then you’d have what Sebastian Junger labeled The Perfect Storm, the title of his 1997 best seller based on one such storm off the New England coast. Arthur Connelly, who has lived on or near the coast of Massachusetts his entire life, and respects the power of storms, finds himself in a financial perfect storm. The long run of bad news in the mortgage sector, and in the credit markets was like the Nor’easter, pounding away at confidence, culminating in the events of September that moved with hurricane-like speed and intensity. Back in August when Connelly was first interviewed for this article, the shaky economy and nervous financial markets naturally came up for discussion. He fully expected that the situation would spill over into his term as ABA Chairman, which begins this month with his election at the ABA Annual Convention in San Francisco. He just didn’t realize quite how big a storm was coming. Nobody did. Its effects will dominate his term and perhaps the terms of those following him. Outgoing Chairman Brad Rock, CEO of Bank of By Bill Streeter, editor-in-chief 34 NOVEMBER 2008/ABA BANKING JOURNAL He found his calling Arthur R. Connelly, chairman of South Shore Bancorp, South Weymouth, Mass., couldn’t have been less involved in the mortgage shenanigans that led to the current troubles than if he had worked as the manager of a hardware store instead of as a banker. South Shore Bancorp is a $1 billion-asset mutual holding company, sole owner of South Shore Savings Bank. For most of its history the 175-year old mutual could have answered a casting call for the part of the Bailey Building & Loan in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Connelly himself could have auditioned for the role of George Bailey. While not exactly a Jimmy Stewart look-alike, Connelly nevertheless has much in common with the screen banker. He is an almost iconic community banker, a devoted family man, a counselor/advisor/sympathetic ear for employees and customers, supporter of the less fortunate, and a willing volunteer for countless nonprofit organizations. For most of his 44 years at South Shore, he lived within walking distance of the bank, took customer calls at night, Subscribe at www.ababj.com
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