Couper performing two jobs in one Regional president, chief of small business loans


August 04, 1996|By The profiles on this page were written by Sun staff writer Bill Atkinson.

One of William Couper's most exciting moments as a young banker in Washington was catching the latest scuttlebutt about Watergate from Woodward and Bernstein. The duo kept their notes in his vault at the bank.

But his biggest thrill in the business was the day he was named president of NationsBank's greater Baltimore region.

While Couper has worked for large banks, including MNC Financial Inc. and American Security Bank in Washington, none had the clout of NationsBank, which controls at least 18 percent of the Baltimore market, and is the country's fifth largest banking concern.

"The scale of it is remarkable," said Couper, who became president seven months ago. "It is really kind of a pinch-yourself situation."

Couper, who lives in Severna Park with his wife and three daughters, wears two hats at NationsBank.

As president of the Baltimore region, he is responsible for meeting with heads of community groups, nonprofit organizations, hospitals and universities. The job consumes about 50 percent of his time.

His mission is to bank these institutions, and to see how BTC NationsBank executives and employees can work with their organizations, whether by sitting on their boards or volunteering for charitable work.

"We want to have our people in leadership positions," he said. "We want to be viewed as a good corporate citizen."

In his other role, Couper oversees a small business loan portfolio of $550 million for NationsBank's operations in Maryland, Virginia and Washington.

He is one of three presidents in the mid-Atlantic region who report to R. Eugene Taylor.

About 125 people report to Couper, and he has the authority to make loan decisions and hire and fire in the small business segment.

"Of all of my groups, Baltimore is doing the best," said Couper, who estimates that the total portfolio is growing about 10 percent to 15 percent annually.

Couper, 49, serves on a number of boards, including Neighborhood Housing Services, the Baltimore Children's Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, CollegeBound Foundation and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

After graduating from the University of Virginia with a finance degree, Couper enlisted in the Navy and served at Fort Meade as a Portuguese linguist. In 1972, he joined American Security in Washington as a management trainee and moved through the ranks. American Security merged with MNC Financial in the mid-1980s, and Couper held a variety of management positions in the consumer, small business and commercial banking areas.

Couper said when NationsBank took over MNC in 1993, there was a "distance" between the community and the newly arrived company, but the gap has since closed.

"Our balance sheet is certainly growing, and it doesn't matter which segment you want to talk about," Couper said.

Pub Date: 8/04/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.