Entering at a time of fast-paced development in Rochester, Jeff Adams has been named the new Regional Market President for Bank of America in Rochester.
Adams has lived in the Rochester area for 10 years, but his career has taken him through southern markets in Georgia and the Carolinas. A Louisiana native, Adams began his career with Merrill Lynch as a financial adviser in Raleigh, North Carolina. From there, he went to Atlanta, then to South Carolina before taking over as Merrill Lynch’s Western New York market leader.
Beginning on July 1, following the eight-year run of former market president John Pitton, Adams outlined his vision for the future of the Rochester market: one focused on growth, development and, most importantly, the people who make up the community.
“It’s so interesting to see how Rochester has changed over the years,” Adams said. “Most of the employment was based around Kodak and Xerox, and as those organizations shrunk their workforces here, you saw a wealth of small businesses pop up. One of the biggest things we do locally is through two avenues; one is working in our ability to invest in the community and help small businesses start, as well as grow as they’re continuing to grow in the community.”
As part of an effort to support a region with a growing small business market, Adams emphasized the importance of collaborating with local community development groups. One such group is PathStone, a nonprofit community development organization. Along with such services as vocational training and career counseling, PathStone Enterprise Center offers loans and resources to help small businesses get off the ground. In 2015, the Bank of America Foundation offered a total of $161,500 in grants to PathStone along with 11 other local nonprofits, including The YMCA of Greater Rochester’s Urban Teen Leadership Club, Flower City Habitat for Humanity and the Veteran’s Outreach Center.
“What they [PathStone] do is make microloans smaller than most banks would be willing to do,” Adams said. “So really, really small businesses, and we’re able to work them and provide funding for them to go into the community and play a part in what has become a very vibrant, young business economy in Rochester.”
This ethos of development is one Adams believes begins in knowing the community and the people that call it home.
“When I was in Columbia, South Carolina, it was really about spending time out in the community with our clients more,” Adams said. “I did a lot of work directly with our financial advisers and our clients.”
Now in a prestigious position in Rochester, Adams doesn’t intend to abandon this concept. Instead, he emphasizes repeatedly engaging people, be they employees of the company, clients or associates.
“I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time with our employees and our associates,” Adams said. “I think what’s really important to me as a leader is that it’s all about our people. If our people believe that this is the best place to work and they have opportunities for advancement, it creates an environment where we can be very competitive in the landscape.”
Simple endeavors of engagement allow Adams to meet this goal and help him better see how positive corporate policy and treatment of workers creates an environment where people flock to work. One such program is the Ally Program. Launched in 2013 as a way to provide educational and volunteer training to support LGBT team members, Adams pointed to it as a key source of pride.
“It’s really a program meant to help people feel welcome as their whole selves at work,” Adams said.
In describing the many stories he’s heard from employees since taking the position, Adams pointed to an employee returning from paternity leave as an ideal example.
In 2016, Bank of America extended paid parental leave from 12 to 16 weeks.
“For him to be able to spend that time to give his child a new, loving environment to come into, it’s just critically important,” Adams said. “That’s the fun part to me, for the last 10 years I’ve worked for the Merrill Lynch associates in town, but I haven’t been able to spend as much time with the broader organization. It’s enriching to me to spend time with them and get to know them.”