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Wilmers' thoughts

M&T Bank Corp. chief executive officer Robert G. Wilmers spoke at Loyola University Maryland on Monday, and offered views on the economy, M&T's operations, and his leadership style. Here are some excerpts from the text of his speech:

-- On the economy: "While numerous challenges remain, including still-elevated unemployment and weak hourly earnings growth, the outlook for the economy is becoming more positive. Let’s just hope all that political bickering and blathering down in Washington doesn’t sidetrack us again."

-- Regarding M&T's ownership structure, he said about 18.5 percent of the company’s stock is owned or controlled by M&T’s management, directors. Wilmers said 2,638 -- 93 percent -- of the employees at the level of vice-president and above own M&T stock. "If they act like owners, it’s because they are," he said.

-- Wilmers said an important part of his management style is asking questions: "It’s an approach based on the belief that the other people around the table know more than I do about their specific areas, so I should listen to them. What’s more, if I talk too much, I’ll tip which way I’m leaning—and run the risk that I’ll be told what someone thinks I want to hear. My goal must always be to try to move the bank toward what’s best for the bank—not toward what conforms to my own opinions."

-- He talked about M&T's Management Development Program, which The Buffalo News highlighted in a story on Sunday. The program hires young professionals and trains them for management roles. He mentioned that of the 1,008 hires M&T has made through what is known as MDP since 1983, 432 are still at M&T. And 59 of those are senior managers.

-- He also spoke about M&T's Executive Associate program, launched in 1984 to recruit MBAs. Of the 478 hired through that program, 191 are still at M&T, a retention rate of about 40 percent. Notable recruits include Rene Jones, the chief financial officer; Mike Pinto, vice chairman and head of the Mid Atlantic Division; and Rich Gold, executive vice president in charge of mortgage and consumer lending and business banking.

-- Matt Glynn



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