You might remember Vernon Hill II as the flamboyant banker with the retailer’s touch who turned Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based Commerce Bancorp into one of the nation’s fastest-growing and most profitable banks of the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Commerce mimicked retailers with prompt, high-touch customer service and airy “stores” in high volume locations. It kept them open longer than competitors and equipped them with free coin counting machines, lollipops for the kids and an open door policy for Fido, complete with biscuits. “All we did was to bring Retailing 101 ideas to banking,” says Hill, 71, who earlier in his...
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John R. Engen is a freelance writer and a contributor to Bank Director magazine.