Dayton ‘near and dear’ to the heart of Fifth Third CEO

The Dayton market is important to Fifth Third Bank, and you don’t have to go any further than the company’s top leader to hear the importance.

Fifth Third’s president and CEO Greg Carmichael, 54, is a 1985 University of Dayton graduate, having majored in computer science and minored in math as a Flyer. A Cincinnati native, his early career was rooted in Southwestern Ohio, featuring stints with companies that have ties to Dayton, including General Electric and Emerson.

“This community is near and dear to my heart,” he said.

Before becoming CEO last year, Carmichael was the bank’s chief operating officer in 2006 and its president in 2012. By the measure of deposits, Fifth Third is the second largest bank in the state.

We sat down with Carmichael recently after he taught a class on identity theft prevention for employees of Community Action Partnership of the Greater Dayton Area, a social services agency.

Q: How does Dayton fit in your overall array of markets?

Carmichael: "We do a lot of investing in this market. Over the last handful of years, we've committed over $22 million in investments through the CDC (Fifth Third's Community Development Corp.), which is extremely important, making investments in the community.

“We continue to help a lot of the not-for-profit entities in the city every year, with donations to help them be successful. Because we believe that to build a strong bank, you have to build a strong community.”

Q: When you look at the Dayton market, do you have concerns about the economy, about the local level of home ownership?

Carmichael: "It's encouraging. I think there is a recovery, and we're seeing some really good signs of progress. When you look at Fifth Third Field over there, you look at all the condos and apartments that are being built and the commercial development that's going on.

“Your housing, home sales are up 11 percent, year-over-year. That’s a great sign. You look at the building going on downtown … the vacancy rates are at an all-time low here. You’re looking at new companies coming into the area. It’s great to see the … old GM plant get (Fuyao Glass America). You’re seeing job growth.

“Now, it’s a journey. But I think we’re seeing some really positive signs.”

Q: With the push toward mobile banking, your bank had a goal of closing 105 branches by June. Was that goal met?

Carmichael: "Yes. It was completed. What I would tell you, first off: The most important thing for us is to always serve our customers, in the manner that best serves them. What you're seeing is more and more of a shift toward mobile, web-based transactions, and a significant number of the transactions now are digital vs. going into a branch.

“So branches are still extremely important and will always be important for the foreseeable future for Fifth Third, and we’ll always have a strong branch presence.

“We have 47 branches currently in this (Dayton) market here. We’re No. 1 in this market. We have 700 employees in this market, and those branches are extremely important.”

Q: When you say you’re No. 1 in the market, what do you mean?

Carmichael: "Deposit share. Deposit share, physical presence, which we track by deposit share. So we have the largest deposit share bank in the community here. And we're very proud of that. It's a great community, a great market. I went to school here. I'm a Cincinnati native. I have relatives in this market, and we just think it's great what's happening in this community, quite frankly."

Q: What led you to go to UD?

Carmichael: "Well, first off, I was a computer science major. I wanted to go into computer science, and they had one of the best computer science programs. It was in my backyard, and I was also recruited to come play football. And it's close to home. And that was attractive to me. But it really started with the education, the degree that I wanted."

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