April 22nd, 2013

Is Small Business Ready For The Recovery?

No one can argue that the past 24-36 months have tested the confidence of small businesses and the ability to regain footing in the current economic environment. The fact is, we faced one of the worst financial crises in decades, and while the media constantly reminds us of the grim past, small business owners need to focus on the here and now. In my most recent Forbes post, I discuss why it is critical for small businesses to operate based on what is actually happening rather than in “hunker down mode”. Our economic landscape is continuing to improve, are you prepared?

You can read my full post by clicking below. I look forward to hearing your thoughts…

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March 25th, 2013

CNOB Rings the NASDAQ Closing Bell

This past Thursday, ConnectOne Bancorp, Inc. had the honor of ringing the NASDAQ closing bell to celebrate our IPO. This was a memorable milestone for us here at CNOB and for the entire financial industry. ConnectOne was the first successful bank IPO in the country since 2011 and the first in NJ since 2003.

ConnectOne began as North Jersey Community Bank in 2005 with the mission to redefine traditional banking. We strive to provide top-notch personalized service with the products and technologies normally found at larger institutions. As a result, we experienced unprecedented growth over the past 8 years leading us to successfully complete our IPO on February 12, 2013.

This accomplishment is a true testament to the hard work of our dedicated employees, the support of our shareholders & clients, and the commitment of our board of directors.

I am proud of what we have accomplished here at ConnectOne Bank and look forward to what our next chapter holds…


December 20th, 2012

Without an Answer on Fiscal Cliff, Crisis of Confidence for Small Business Owners Renewed

So what are small business owners thinking about the Fiscal Cliff? While most focus on their businesses day in and day out, the subject of the Fiscal Cliff is putting a pall on their decision making ability. When discussing future plans, they are putting this issue in front of all others as the concerns regarding tax planning for the coming year and are trumping critical business decisions around growth, hiring and future investments.

Small business owners are asking questions such as:

  • Will my taxes go up?
  • What will the capital gains rate be?
  • Will this send the economy into a recession?
  • What will be the fallout from all the spending cuts?
  • Should I change my estate plan?
  • Should I pay out my retained earnings as dividends now?


New Crisis of Confidence for All Businesses

So what effect does this all have on the economic landscape, small business owners and consumers? It is creating a new crisis of confidence for all businesses, particularly for small businesses as it hampers their everyday operations and clouds their outlook for growth. While the cliff has unintended consequences, the effects are going to be very difficult to undo especially given the years of a slow and stalled recovery that have plagued the nation. The public discourse around the Fiscal Cliff is taking the wind out of the economy’s sails and bringing everything to a halt.

Threat to the Small Business Recovery, Engine of our Economic Growth

Today, the economy is actually seeing consistent improvement from almost all sectors for the first time since the Great Recession, including manufacturing and a recent tailwind from the housing industry.  Despite this economic progress, every day that goes by without a deal or action by Congress heightens the risk that small business owners will fall into a state of paralysis, or worse – make decisions based on non-economic events that do not turn out as perceived. We are talking about jobs and people’s lives here. When the small business recovery is stalled and the outlook is increasingly uncertain, the job market suffers as people do not get hired, construction spending slows as projects are put on hold and economic activity as a whole is put to a jarring halt. The heated political debate does not have as much influence over our economic recovery – it’s the lack of a sense of a sustainable direction and confidence in the future policy of our government that is concerning Americans.

The Path Forward

We as a nation are putting the future of our economy at risk. We need a sensible plan that takes all the stakeholders’ needs into account, and cares the most about jobs and doing no harm, rather than about being true to a political ideology. Small business owners have supported this recovery, and have made the necessary investments, taken the appropriate risks, and put it all on the line in order to thrive despite the strained environment. The small business sector should not suffer at a time when there is an opportunity for businesses to continue on their recovery, prosper, expand, and hire. Now is the time to come to the middle, put politics behind us, and lift this much talked about issue off the table.


Watch my latest CNBC interview below  for more of my thoughts on the fiscal cliff and its implications on small business.

December 4th, 2012

NJCB named 2012 Business of the Year!



I am honored to announce that last night NJBIZ named us the 2012 Business of the Year. We were recognized as one of the state’s most dynamic businesses for our commitment to professional excellence, business growth and community service.

We could not have earned this recognition without the dedicated efforts of the North Jersey Community Bank team, and the amazing things they do each and every day. It is their relentless commitment to our mission that has produced outstanding results.  I would also like to thank our loyal clients for their continued support over the years.

I am proud to be part of such a dedicated team, and look forward to continuing our success together.

November 2nd, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Response

We at North Jersey Community Bank realize Hurricane Sandy has taken a huge toll on our community, and we are committed to doing as much as we can to help you during this recovery. In response to this disaster, we have enacted an Emergency Loan Program for any clients who have been impacted by Sandy and are in need of emergency funding. We are dedicated to assisting you through this recovery as our community begins to retake control of the events over this past week, reopen businesses and repair our homes. To access the program, please contact your NJCB lender or email us at info@njcb.com. We’ve shortened our application process, streamlined our timeframe, and will do everything we can to respond within 24 hours.

As an added convenience, we have set each of our branches up with generators so that all of our offices can be operational. All of our locations will be open until 5PM today. We will be closed on Saturday, November 3rd to give our employees an opportunity to tend to their homes and allow us to continue to work on our systems in order to enhance capabilities for the future. Our couriers are available during operating hours to pickup any non-cash deposits in the event you cannot make it into a branch.

 As you may have experienced, we have had difficulties with our phone systems over the past few days. We appreciate your patience while we work diligently to repair the issue. If you cannot get through to us by phone, please email us at info@njcb.com and we will connect you to a banking representative with the ability to communicate with you in real time.

Additionally, any overdraft fees, returned item fees, and late payment fees incurred between Monday, October 29th and next Monday, November 5th will be waived.

We have charging stations set up in our Englewood Cliffs, Hackensack, Ridgewood, Holmdel and West New York offices. Feel free to come in to any of these locations and get your devices powered up.

 Finally, each of our branches has a conference room that is available for you and your businesses. Give us a call and we will be happy to set you up in one of our locations.

 Natural disasters often result in long lasting effects on our homes, businesses and communities. Our team  worked tirelessly to prepare for Sandy so that we could provide you with the tools and resources needed to rebuild your way through the recovery, as we stand by your side. Click here to learn more about what we did in preparation of the storm.

As always, our online banking is available 24/7 at www.njcb.com. You can also stay connected to us through our Facebook and Twitter pages.

September 25th, 2012

Basel III: Is More Capital The Solution?

Basel III, a global regulatory standard being applied to all financial institutions, is scheduled to roll out its first phase in 2015. The regulation has sparked much heated conversation amongst industry leaders since it sets one capital standard for institutions of all sizes and complexities. In my latest Forbes post, I discussed Why “One Size Fits All” Capital Rules Will Not Prevent Bank Failures, and will ultimately affect the small business owner. Implementing increased capital requirements and higher capital costs across the board will result in unintended consequences. What would be most beneficial is regulation with varying standards based on complexity and risk in order to develop a level playing field. You can also watch my thoughts on Basel III & Capital standards in my latest interview on Bloomberg TV’s “Bottom Line” below.

July 20th, 2012

Is Your Business Staying Relevant?

Today’s world is driven by ever-changing technology.  The rise of these new technologies has given consumers access to more information, and more importantly, access to more of your competition, thus evolving their once predictable behavior.  In my most recent Forbes post, Where Banking Meets Tech: Why Business Must Adapt, Or Else, I discuss that in today’s environment, it is essential to stay relevant. Is your company based on a traditional business model? How often do you re-evaluate it? How will changes in technology change the way you interact with your consumer? In order to survive, companies now need to think like innovators and build adaptable models.


You can read my full post by clicking below. I look forward to hearing about what your business does to stay relevant…

July 2nd, 2012

Four Reasons The Housing Market Is On Your Side

Recently, on Fox Business, I discussed the state of the housing market, which has been under scrutiny over the past few years. The media frenzy surrounding the housing market has left potential buyers in fear of failure in the housing market when, in fact, there are many attractive opportunities available to qualified buyers. In my latest Forbes post, I examine the four reasons the housing market is on the consumer’s side: interest rates, prices, consumer confidence, and supply/demand. You can read the full article at the link below. As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


May 15th, 2012

Chicago Fed Panel: Increased Capital Will Not Save The U.S. Banking System

Following Ben Bernanke’s address on The State of the Banking System, at the 48th Annual Conference on Bank Structure and Competition in Chicago last week, I had the honor and the privilege to speak about on a dynamic panel and discuss Bank Capital. During the panel, “Bank Capital – How Much is Enough?”, I argued that increased capital is not the answer for banks.  

You can read more of my thoughts on the topic in my latest Forbes post by clicking here.

After the Conference, I was asked to discuss this topic as well as the recent JP Morgan news on CNBC’s Street Signs along with former Governor Elliot Spitzer.  You can watch the full interview below.

As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts…

April 23rd, 2012

Don’t Look At The History Books For Insight Into This Recovery

While the mood was not somber as in years past, the discussion revolving around the economy at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Community Bankers Conference was one of a transitioning set of fundamentals, and a deeper understanding of “why it is different this time.”

The economy is clearly on a path of recovery, and any chart of any metric would suggest the same. The astounding facts though, were of how this recovery was different than those of the past recoveries, and the data was compelling. Eleven consecutive quarters of positive GDP growth was offset by the level of slack still in the economy. While core inflation is running higher lately, forward-looking indicators suggest a slowdown in the inflation rate.

There may be a shift occurring in our economy and whether permanent or temporary, new norms will have to be considered. One such norm was the relationship between the unemployment rate, currently at 8.3% and the employment rate, currently declining to a rate of 67%. If the employment were to rise and become positive, the unemployment rate actually may settle to a previously unthinkable new higher normal in the 6 – 7 % range.

The other very interesting shift is the relationship between new housing starts, and the formation of new households, which might suggest that there is a shift taking place in the rationale for home ownership, with many delaying the decision.

These and other indicators point to a very gradual recovery, with much slack remaining in our economy, for now. Close attention needs to be paid to trends occurring in the present, with much less reliance on historical trends. We are seeing these trends play out in real life on Main Street as well…

Tell us what you are seeing in your business…


For more, check out my interview on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report or view this post on Forbes.com.