Deborah L. Stevens, vice president of special assets and special assets manager at Liberty Bank, says helping people get to the other side of a problem loan can be challenging, but also very rewarding.
“There is no good book on how to do a workout,” Stevens said. “It is a stylistic kind of job. You have to find that balance between emotional and strategic decision-making. It’s not easy. But when you do find that balance, and can reach a mutually agreeable course of action, everybody wins.”
Stevens has spent her entire banking career in special assets and problem loan management.
“Special assets are very cyclical,” she said. “The late ’80s were not much better than today. The big difference is the downside has lasted longer this time. We also have more regulations and other requirements.”
Stevens has been in her current position at Liberty Bank since September 2012.
Since coming to Liberty, Stevens has built a team of two other special assets professionals. She and her team work with the bank’s commercial customers who require in-depth attention.
Stevens said each customer assigned to her team “gets a fresh set of eyes focused on how we can work toward a solution that is best for both Liberty Bank and the customer.”
Opening the lines of communication is the first order of business for every new client. She and her team work to make sure that both they and the customer understand where the relationship currently stands, and not be confused by misconceptions and broken communication channels that may have developed as the economic slow-down began to negatively impact these customers and their businesses.
“Sometimes businesses can re-invent themselves,” Stevens said. “We do not change a business for them. We see ourselves as helping them stabilize their business or re-invent themselves through their acknowledgment of their current state and then our consideration of various workout strategies. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen periodically.”
A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Stevens started her banking career in 1991 at Connecticut National Bank. She remained with two successor banks before coming up through the ranks with subsequent positions at Bay View Franchise Mortgage Acceptance Co., UPS Capital Business Credit and First Niagara Bank.
Stevens lives in the eastern part of the state with her husband and two children.