Anthony “Tony” Eramo is a Senior Director at MountainView Risk & Analytics, managing relationships with midsize and large banks, and seeking to understand each institution’s unique balance sheet challenges as well as offer solutions that enhance performance and compliance. Tony brings more than 25 years of banking experience to this role, and in the interview below, he gives us additional insight into his background, passions, and parrot.
Q: Can you please introduce yourself?
A: My name is Anthony Eramo, or a lot of people refer to me as Tony. I’ve been a banker for about twenty-eight years, before moving into my current role. I took this role because I wanted a 21st-century job where I could do it from anywhere and take the same skills with me. I’m a Pennsylvania native living in Ohio, so having a job like this allows me to pick up my laptop and do it from anywhere. So, if I need to go back and take care of my family, I can do that.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about how you ended up in this role? What’s your background?
A: I grew up small, I started with a bank in Stamford, Connecticut. Then after a few years, I wanted to move back to Pennsylvania, where I was from, so I left my job as CFO in Stamford to get back to Pennsylvania and go to a bigger bank. That bank was unique. It was a two billion dollar bank holding company but the one bank was all unionized employees. They were United Steelworkers in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. They had another bank in Pittsburgh called Three Rivers Bank, which was about another billion dollars. So I worked for them from about 1992 to the year 2000, and in late 1999, we decided to break the bank into two separate bank holding companies.
The reason we did that is because many people didn’t want to merge with us or grow with us because we had the union. So we spun the bank into two separate bank holding companies, and I led the charge to become the CFO of the Three Rivers Bank. We got a private letter ruling allowing us to do this as a tax-free transaction, which was pretty amazing as it was the first one ever done. We ran that bank for about two years then we sold to a larger company. I stayed on with that company and they moved me to Bowling Green, Ohio. I stayed in Bowling Green, which is like living in Mayberry R.F.D., a cute little midwestern town. I lived there for five years until that bank was sold to Huntington National Bank in Huntington, near Columbus, Ohio, where I find myself today. I was with Huntington for about 24 years, until I joined the team here.
Q: Coming from the banking side of things as a CFO and an operator, how did that experience play into what you do today at MountainView Risk & Analytics?
A: Well, I grew up in banking, if you will, on the asset-liability management, finance side, running investments, and interest rate risk. All the things we do at MVRA, I did for the bank. So, when I talk to my clients, I can say, “Well, you know when I sat on your side of the desk…” Now, I’m on the other side of the desk, so I have seen it all. I have seen a lot of these things and it’s rare that I run into a bank that I haven’t experienced something that they are going through, if not what they are currently going through.
Also, I was probably one of McGuire’s first clients. I started with McGuire using their deposit study, around 1994. I wish I knew the exact date. Now I like to say that I’m my own client because that bank is covered by me, which I signed the original contract for in the ’90s. Actually, the person who runs the model for that bank is someone that I hired. Banking is small. A lot of the vendors I used in the banking world are now people I see at the trade shows. So even though I left banking proper, I’m just as much in banking now, as I was then.
Q: I’ve heard you say that risk management should be viewed as a revenue optimizer as opposed to an expense line. Can you explain that?
A: When the risk group shows up, nobody ever goes, “Oh Great! You’re here!” Because it costs time and money. It’s hard to keep clients in risk because nobody in banking like or care for the risk people. If banks were to embrace risk folks a little more, and realize that we are not here to tell you how to operate your business, but rather help set up guardrails for them and protect them from getting severely hurt. That’s the optimization, the risk-reward paradigm.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your hobbies and interests outside of the workplace?
A: Where do I start? I don’t have enough hours in the day to do all my hobbies. I’m always active. I love the long summer days when I get up before dawn and go to bed way late. I don’t need a lot of sleep. I’m a season ticket holder for Penn State. I spend six hours in a car one way to go to football games. I exercise every morning, I love the outdoors. Fishing, hunting, and all that type of stuff, and I love cars too. I’m fortunate enough to be married to a woman for thirty-one years who actually, not only lets me get away with liking cars but now she loves cars. She actually just bought a car that we saw at a car show while I was away a couple of weeks ago, and she got a personalized license plate that says “CARCHICK.”
Q: What kind of car is it?
A: It’s nothing I would ever expect, I had never even seen one before. It’s an Infiniti Q60 S. 400 horsepower, all wheel drive, twin turbo car. She bought it for commuting.
Q: Word is that you have an African Grey Parrot. Is there a story there?
A: So, after we got married my wife and I were living in a condo in Connecticut and we couldn’t have dogs. I had always liked this TV series called Baretta. He was a detective and he always had a parrot, Fred, with him. I always thought it was cool. There was a pet shop by my office and I started fooling around saying if we can’t have a dog, how about a parrot? Well, this was before the internet, so the shop guy told me he could live for fifteen or twenty years. Okay, I took the guy’s word for it and come to find out the type of parrot I have can live for sixty-five years or more! I got him as a chick, so he’s thirty-one years old. He’s as old as our marriage and he has the vocabulary of a three-year-old. Even the dogs listen to him. I’ll open the door and he whistles for the dogs to come. It’s great!
Q: Last question, in terms of working for MountainView Risk & Analytics, what are some of your favorite parts about the organization?
A: Meeting everybody and helping people out! I always say, our biggest competitor likes to get in front of the board of directors and stuff like that, and I always tell my customers that my job is to make them look good. I want to give them everything they need to do their job and make themselves look good in their organization. I don’t need them to bring me in to do it for them, I need to support them as their back-office support to help them look like they make good choices and help them make better choices and move forward after they’ve been with us.
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