Position: Chief Accounting Officer
Company: Investar Bank
Family: Two daughters, Chandler Otillio & Courtney Cherco
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
Education: University High School; B.S. in Accounting from LSU
In the news:
Investar Bank is continuing an aggressive expansion strategy across the Gulf South. Earlier this year, it opened branches in three Texas cities—Houston, Texas City and Dickinson—and, over the summer, entered into an agreement to acquire the Alabama-based Bank of York, giving Investar a presence along the Interstate 20 corridor in Alabama. Since receiving the necessary regulatory approvals several months ago, Investar has been operating as a national bank, with its official name changing to “Investar Bank, National Association.”
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was your biggest takeaway from the experience?
My first job was at PriceWaterhouse at the age of 22. My biggest takeaways were that there are so many different personalities in the world and we need all types to achieve success.
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?
My morning routine starts at 6:00 a.m. with black coffee and a good breakfast.
For those who are not familiar with Investar Bank, tell us a little bit about the company and your role.
Investar Bank was founded in 2006 by John D’Angelo and is headquartered in Baton Rouge. We started in a trailer on Perkins Road and today the bank has grown to 24 locations across Louisiana and Texas. The bank is approximately $2 billion in asset size and is publicly traded.
As the chief accounting officer, I am responsible for the company’s asset liability management, managing the bank’s investment portfolio, supervising the accounting department, serving on various committees and reviewing various financial reports.
As someone who has been with Investar since its founding in 2006 and has seen the bank’s footprint expand rapidly in recent years, what would you say is behind the growth, and what is the company’s strategy for maintaining it?
Our people! Exceptional teamwork and customer service is the key to our success. As the bank has grown, we have worked really hard to ensure that this type of culture continues to be spread throughout our entire footprint.
Technology has undoubtedly disrupted the banking industry over the past decade. How has your company evolved to adapt and take advantage of new opportunities?
Investar is very proactive on the technology front, embracing technology whenever it makes good business sense. As a young organization, our team members embrace and demand technology. I’ve been in banking a long enough time to see the evolution to ATMs, deposit capture, mobile and online banking.
What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?
Communication is very important. I’ve learned that your style of communication is equally as important as the message itself.
What’s something about your job that might surprise people?
Outsiders believe that banks are slow and boring; however, Investar is a progressive organization that moves at the speed of light. My job is very challenging and consistently changing with new accounting pronouncements and regulations.
It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon and you find yourself with nothing on the schedule. What are you going to do?
Find some friends to play tennis. I also love spending time with my three young grandkids.
What are some of your best productivity hacks?
Minimize interruptions, stay focused and look at the big picture.
What is one of the best vacations you’ve ever taken and what’s a vacation you hope to take in the future?
My best vacations have been to Disney World & Pensacola Beach. I hope to go white water rafting in Colorado.
What have been some of the most rewarding experiences in your career to date?
Passing the CPA exam, and organizing and opening not one, but two DeNovo financial institutions. I take great pride in the growth of Investar, as I was one of the first five employees that started the bank.
What do you love most about living in the Capital Region and what would you like to see change to make it an even better place to live and work?
I love watching LSU football and baseball! I would like to see our local traffic conditions improve.
Can you name someone who has had a great impact on you as a leader, or someone who has been a mentor to you in your life or career? How have they changed your outlook?
Dale Gaudet, who was the CEO at Bank of Gonzales and United Community Bank, was a great mentor to me in my career, giving me the confidence to achieve a successful career. He was able to save a failing financial institution in the late ’80s by motivating team members to work hard to get the job done.
And of course John D’Angelo has been an inspiration. I’ll never forget the time when he left me a voice message about wanting to organize a DeNovo financial institution in Baton Rouge in July 2005—I was sitting on the beach! John has helped me realize that when you stay focused on your vision, you can accomplish just about anything. Working side-by-side with John over the past 13 years, we have grown Investar Bank to a $2 billion financial institution and will soon be in three states next month. When starting the bank, it would’ve been hard to imagine such a successful journey.
What is something you are absolutely determined to do in life?
Hopefully retire one day so I can spend more time with my children and grandchildren. I also want to give back to the community by doing volunteer work to help those in need.