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Life’s journey takes one on twists and turns. When you’re prepared, “luck” and opportunities present themselves and good outcomes may be enjoyed. In this episode of Discover Lafayette, close friends and work partners Beth Ardoin and Beth Trotter (affectionately known as “B1 and B2”) share their unique journeys which led them to IBERIABANK leadership positions and the paths they follow to help others thrive and excel.
Beth Ardoin has been with IBERIABANK since 2002, at a time when the bank was in a transition, being converted from a thrift to a more traditional commercial bank. With a background in print media and publishing, she brought needed experience in marketing to their target audience of privately-held commercial businesses. In the 17 years she has been with the bank, it has grown through the acquisition of 25 banks across the Southeast United States. With that expansion came additional opportunities for Beth to manage operations affecting IBERIABANK’s 3600 employees. Beth now serves as Senior Executive VP and Director of Communications, Facilities, and Human Resources, as well as chief of staff for CEO Daryl Bird. Beth also just concluded service on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s New Orleans branch.
Beth Trotter, a Tulane Law School graduate, joined IBERIABANK ten years ago as a staff attorney and is now an Executive Vice President and CRA officer. “CRA” stands for the federal Community Reinvestment Act, a law that directs banks to help meet the credit needs of low-and-moderate income neighborhoods in the communities in which they operate. Lending, Investment, and Service are the focus of the CRA. While the CRA doesn’t directly mandate that banks provide grants to low-income homebuyers, the bank has chosen to implement a program that assists first time home buyers with up to $4000 in down payment assistance. “First responder” first time home buyers are eligible for up to $5000 toward their down payment. For the past few years, up to $1.5 million per year has been granted to first time home buyers affiliated with the CRA program; a total of $3 million per year has been granted to CRA-related programs. Beth’s outstanding work in this field has garnered her a national reputation as a sought after expert.
One community partner which IBERIABANK is proud to partner with is the non-profit Habitat for Humanity, with its approximately 12 to 15 branches across the nine-state region in which the bank is located. Beth Trotter served on Lafayette’s Habitat board for five years and chaired the Women Build committee in 2017 and 2018. Habitat not only builds homes but is a mortgage lender. The bank buys back loans extended by Habitat so as to allow the non-profit to invest back in the community and have available funds to loan to deserving participants. Habitat’s success is exemplary, building approximately 12 homes per year, with an extremely low default rate (less than 5%) by their clients. All Habitat homebuyers must first qualify by having taking financial literacy classes as well as money-management and home maintenance classes. Clients must also invest at least 100 hours working to build their home and other Habitat client homes.
“Looking back over the past twenty years or so, the conversation was you were either a stay at home mom or you were a working mom. Today the conversation is completely different as 50% of the workforce is occupied by women. It’s not about whether you will work, but how are you going to be successful as you work and provide a great life for your family. The banking industry is changing with lots of opportunities for women in leadership positions. There is no better time than now for women to find their spot and take opportunities that are there for them.” Beth Ardoin
Approximately 60% of IBERIABANK’s workforce is female and the bank works to coach and educate its employees to achieve their highest potential for advancement. The Diversity and Inclusion Council was developed within the bank to help employees across the company to share what can be done to advance people in their careers with IBERIABANK. A mentorship program was started two years ago to open up dialogue among employees across the company’s geographic lines; employees build relations and are provided a safe environment to be share work concerns or ask for guidance in areas that will help them excel in their career. A third leadership program the bank partners with is Women Unlimited which enable budding female leaders to become the next generation of top executives.
“Electronic banking is the wave of the future. However, it’s not going to replace traditional banking. FDIC studies show that people of all economic backgrounds still want to walk into bank branches for certain types of services….The next wave of technology will be fully electronic delivery and closing of loan documents, which is still a work in progress.” Beth Trotter
While technology is changing the delivery of banking services in ways no one could have anticipated, the importance of maintaining personal relationships between the banker and clients can’t be overstated. While a major competitor recently removed tellers from its branches, Beth Ardoin stressed that this will not occur at IBERIABANK’s locations.
Career opportunities abound in the banking industry and one needn’t pursue the traditional business degree to obtain employment. A variety of educational backgrounds such as Accounting/Finance, Marketing, IT, Legal, and Compliance comprise a few of the paths one can follow for a successful and rewarding career in banking.
Beth Ardoin began her career in banking and grew in expertise because she took a leap of faith. She encourages others to “Just say yes” and see where the journey takes you. Beth Trotter began her career after being a stay-at-home mom. Her first foray back into the work world was with Federal Magistrate Mike Hill who needed a law clerk quickly after his clerk took a leave of absence. After six months with Hill, Beth spoke with IBERIABANK CEO Daryl Byrd about serving on a local school board and was also offered a position with the bank. Both women consider themselves “non-financial bankers” and remarked on how many opportunities are open for interested applicants who may not realize they could work in the banking industry.
Both women are inspiring and work to encourage others to reach for their full potential. Thanks to B1 and B2 for sharing their stories with Discover Lafayette!