Five Questions With: Mark A. Cousineau

Mark A. Cousineau is a vice president for Wells Fargo & Co.’s Commercial Banking division in southern New England. He joined Wells Fargo in December 2018. Previously, he was with Bank of America Corp. in its Business Banking group for 25 years.

Wells Fargo describes him as “an experienced vice president and relationship manager with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry,” skilled in commercial banking, credit analysis, strategic planning, trade services, and business development.

Cousineau holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature and business management from Rhode Island College.

 

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PBN: How much commercial lending does Wells Fargo do in Rhode Island?

COUSINEAU: Wells Fargo opened its southern New England regional commercial lending office in late 2016, with Mike DiSandro leading the group. In that time, we have grown quite a bit after a few years in the market.

Most of our Rhode Island business customers have annual revenues ranging from $20 million to $250 million and span across industries, including manufacturing, wholesale distributing, technology, international trading, and seafood.

However, Wells Fargo Commercial Banking, which was announced in June, generally serves customers with revenue ranging from $5 million to $2 billion, so we have a lot of room for growth with our expanded capabilities and coverage model.

PBN: Which parts of the local commercial lending market are strongest and weakest?

COUSINEAU: Privately owned businesses continue to face many challenges in a highly competitive global economy with constant changes in technology that impact their growth opportunities.

Many companies in Rhode Island are experiencing these market dynamics, yet I am continually amazed at the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of Rhode Island businesses that have had great success in the national and global marketplace.

Local industry sectors that are experiencing positive growth include healthcare, technology, and hospitality, while traditional retail trade continues to be under pressure from online retail competitors.

PBN: What other types of banking and financial services does Wells Fargo provide in Rhode Island?

COUSINEAU: In addition to commercial banking, our local business lines include home mortgage, wealth management, private banking, Wells Fargo auto, and educational lending.

We employ 65 team members who sit across three offices in Providence, Newport, and Middletown. We also have a newly formed national Specialized Industries group that includes a team of bankers focusing on two of the key sectors in this market – higher education lending and government lending – in addition to food, beverage, and agribusiness; investor real estate; and technology.

PBN: Why hasn’t Wells Fargo entered the local retail banking market?

COUSINEAU: At this time, there are no immediate plans to construct new branches in the region. It’s important to note that while branches are important in serving our customers’ needs, customers have more ways than ever to bank and digital usage continues to increase.

Today, we are able to serve customers anywhere through our industry-leading online and mobile banking services. We continue to evaluate our branch network, and base our physical distribution strategy on customer behavior, market factors, economic trends and competitor actions.

PBN: Do you see signs of an economic slowdown?

COUSINEAU: At present, I’m not seeing any signs of an economic slowdown in Rhode Island. To the contrary, we are seeing growth across all industries with relatively low interest rates fueling positive economic trends. In talking with customers and prospect companies, the No. 1 issue we hear is that businesses are having significant issues obtaining and retaining qualified skilled workers, given the state’s relatively low unemployment rate.

To assist with the talent pool challenges, I sit on the board of Year Up Rhode Island, which works to close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support to empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.

In an effort to support their mission, Wells Fargo recently committed a $10,000 grant to the organization. Additionally, I am a member of the board of directors of the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, which recently supported legislation to secure funding in support of the mission to provide a training mechanism for its members. Wells Fargo is a supporter and active sponsor of RIMA.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@PBN.com.

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