It was a few scant hours before National Bank Private Banking 1859 was to open its brand-new Vancouver branch. Western Canada president Meghan Meger was almost relaxed, satisfied that the team she had assembled for Vancouver was top-notch in every respect, just as she had done in Calgary. “The main job now is to build the National Bank Private Banking 1859 brand,” she says, seated in one of the branch’s inner offices. “And a big part of that is to hire top talent, the best of the best in each position.” She says all this with complete confidence that it will happen, and why not? Her nearly 30 years of banking experience and her track record suggest the realization of her goals is not far away.
Meger got her start in the banking business in the quintessentially small town of Edson, Alberta, located on the Yellowhead Highway, just under 200 kilometres west of Edmonton. Her progress was marked partially by its rapidity, abetted by various mentors who pretty much uniformly recognized her potential as a leader in the profession. By the time she was approached by National Bank, Meger had accomplished plenty, but she says she “was initially really hesitant about making such a major move in my career, since I truly loved what I was doing. But my mentors and colleagues were extremely supportive. And I realized this was an opportunity to grow into a more entrepreneurial role, which is, I assure you, not the norm in the banking business. Even after all these years, I find I am more excited today than ever before about the possibilities we are engaged in.”
Throughout the conversation, Meger refers regularly to her rural upbringing, and the work ethic it taught her. She is forthright, articulate, a touch folksy, but always on point. It is clear even after one hour of time spent with her that Meger knows her business very well. She also knows how to inspire the best in others, which is what makes her such a great team leader, and in this case, team creator. “We literally are building one position, one person, at a time,” she explains. “When I first took this job, it was based on an initial meeting with two National Bank people. I still had reservations, but we just hit it off, professionally and personally. As I began the process of integrating myself, I found a wonderful sense of family, actually. I felt part of the team from the get-go, part of the company fabric. That is what I strive for with each new person we bring into our team as we grow in the West.”
Meger is clear about the challenges, which is why she is also clear about who the best fits for her team might be. “Prescription comes out of the mothership: head office in Montreal, of course. But this is a remarkably diverse country,” she says. “Part of my job is to bring the East and West regions together more profoundly. To do that, we must understand regional nuances. That means our approaches must also be nuanced, balanced, according to each region’s individual needs, within the overall framework of the mothership.” Meger emphasizes how important this attention to regional difference is, because clients in each region of course expect—demand, really—that their individual needs and priorities are completely understood. “One extremely important aspect of National Bank Private Banking 1859 is the fact that we can offer a complete in-house service package,” Meger says. “For example, we recently added someone to our team, a talented person who is a lawyer, but also has her Master’s degree in tax. This kind of in-house expertise adds immediate value for our clients. We don’t tend to have to refer outside for anything, and clients recognize the value in that. Plus, it creates a great bond of trust.” And it is certainly working.
Still relaxed, clearly happy with the new offices and the team she has populated them with, Meger says, by way of summary, “Relationships are absolutely paramount. What should set us apart is our team, and as they come on board, they begin not only to work within the company structure, but to build their own strong base of relationships with clients. It’s that entrepreneurial aspect again.” That is how Meger is assembling the best and the brightest—something you can take to the bank.