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Promoted bank executive sets sights on middle-market growth

Brian Hartz



Allen Brinkman is Seacoast Bank's Tampa Bay market executive.

During a career that spans nearly three decades, Allen Brinkman has worked for big banks, community banks and everything in between, including a brief stint at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Currently serving as Stuart-based Seacoast Bank’s Tampa Bay market executive, you’d think there would be little left to challenge him professionally.

Brinkman, however, has been tapped to lead Seacoast’s middle-market operations and grow the bank’s presence in that sector. (Middle-market companies, roughly defined, are bigger than small businesses and usually have annual revenue of between $100 million and $3 billion.) He’s been installed in a newly created role — middle-market executive — and promoted to executive vice president, but he told the Catalyst that he’ll continue to lead the bank’s operations in the region until his successor is found.

Brinkman also said he plans to remain a Tampa resident for the foreseeable future.

“As I’m building this ground-up venture, I can pull double-duty to some degree,” he said. “It’s not going to be a huge distraction. We’ve got a great team, so I won’t have to do any micro-managing.”

Tampa Bay is a great place for Brinkman to be based and for Seacoast to attract business because of its strengths in the middle-market segment, which Brinkman predicts will only “continue to be really strong” as more and more companies discover the competitive advantages of the region, which in turn will attract more private equity investment.

“When you look at the type of customers [here], a lot of times they’re family-owned, through multiple generations, and have an incredible amount of experience,” Brinkman said. “They’re able to expand pretty easily and make it through both downturns and upswings without much volatility.”

However, Brinkman is quick to point out that Seacoast is no stranger to serving middle-market companies.

“It’s not that the company never had capability or never did business in this space,” he said. “It just hadn’t organized a line of business to bring all the resources to the client. That’s where the opportunity lies. Your growth engine for banks right now is commercial middle-market banking. That’s where the institution wants to put resources.”

The shift won’t happen overnight, Brinkman said. Seacoast will look to hire experienced commercial bankers, develop and roll out products and services and scale up in accordance with a formal go-to-market strategy. Part of that strategy will be aimed at filling a gap in the business banking marketplace, Brinkman said. Given its long history and familiarity with the Florida business climate, the bank is well positioned to appeal to middle-market companies that are moving to or expanding in the Sunshine State and might not feel that their needs are being met by big national banks.

“Large banks, because they have such significant infrastructure, their cost to serve a certain market segment is pretty significant,” he said. “It’s not like they’re abandoning clients — they just have to serve a much different client. So a lot more technology is involved, and there’s less personal touch, etc.”

To lay the groundwork for building out its middle-market operations, Seacoast has aggressively expanded its presence in the Tampa Bay region, most recently by acquiring St. Petersburg-based Freedom Bank in 2020 in a deal valued at $63.6 million. In 2017, it acquired GulfShore Bank and NorthStar Bank, both headquartered in Tampa. The run of acquisitions brought Seacoast six branches in the area — and according to Brinkman, it might look to grow that footprint even more.

Seacoast “is very acquisitive,” he said, adding, “If [a bank] has a great balance sheet and is well capitalized, we’re always looking to add to the franchise, and a market like Tampa Bay is incredibly attractive. We’ll continue to look for ways to grow [here].”

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