Craig Albert realized he wouldn’t have to look far to find his successor as the CEO of the Sanibel Captiva Community Bank. Kyle DeCicco joined the bank in 2016 as a commercial loan officer; a year ago, Albert put a succession plan in place, promoting DeCicco to president. Now, that plan has been finalized, with DeCicco, 37, being promoted to CEO effective Jan. 1. Albert, 62, will remain involved as chairman of the bank’s board of directors, two decades after founding it.
“You know what was so great about Kyle when he first started with the bank?” Albert says. “Every time I saw him, he’d say, ‘What can I take off your plate? What can I do to help make things easier?’ He did that from early on.”
Albert founded the bank in 2003 with two other employees: the late office manager Nora Mohr and original bank teller Debbie Norris, who advanced to become a vice president and branch manager.
As the bank enters its 20th year, it has grown to 108 employees and more than $800 million in assets with eight branches serving all of Southwest Florida—not just Sanibel and Captiva islands, where the bank dominates.
DeCicco, a Fort Myers High School graduate, graduated from Florida Atlantic University on a swimming scholarship and then went through the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking Program through the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He counted SwimFlorida coach Mac Kennedy as an incredible mentor among a host of others, including Jack Thomas, a Fort Myers financial adviser and fellow swimmer who introduced DeCicco to Albert.
Being surrounded by respected leaders can only further instill leadership qualities in someone, Albert said.
“He does such a great job,” Albert says of DeCicco. “He’s a really solid banker. Very smart. But more than any of that, he’s just a really good person. He’s a great family man. He’s a great banker, but he’s a better person. That’s what I saw in him.”
DeCicco sees a lot in Albert, too.
After Hurricane Ian devastated Sanibel Island on Sept. 28, the bankers were forced into recovery mode. They began commuting to Sanibel by boat from DeCicco’s home dock. While DeCicco oversaw operations mostly from the mainland, Albert was doing just about everything on Sanibel, including grilling hamburgers and hot dogs for his employees, relief workers and construction crews—when he wasn’t coordinating the renovations on the Periwinkle Way branch that had to be gutted after flooding.
“Craig has been a great role model for me to watch,” DeCicco says. “He is very different than what you would consider a standard bank president. If somebody says, ‘Paint me a picture of a bank president,’ a lot of people wouldn’t paint the picture of Craig Albert. He’s the leader next door. He’s not flashy, by any means; he’s the guy who blends into any normal office space.”
He also, DeCicco continued, is “the guy who speaks directly to the customers. I’ve seen Craig Albert drive across the bridge to meet with somebody about a $30,000 car loan. That, to him, is as important as a $30 million business loan. He allows the other 107 employees who work at the bank to see that from the top down, we treat every customer with that level of service.”
Leading a bank requires a different set of skills than leading other businesses, Albert said. In addition to pleasing employees, clients and shareholders, there’s also the need for pleasing the government regulators.
“You have to deal with a lot of regulation,” Albert says. “We’re very heavily regulated. Oftentimes you have to look at things from a regulated standpoint, as well. We get audited every 18 months by the FDIC and then 18 months later, we’ll get audited by the state of the Florida. They’re pretty heavy audits. They take weeks at a time. You have to wear a lot of different hats.”
Asked the perennial question—are leaders born or made?—DeCicco went with the latter.
“You know, I think opportunities are presented to you, and you have a very split second to make a decision on which way you’re going to go,” DeCicco says. “I feel as though opportunities have come along in my life that have made me become a leader. I don’t know that they’re born. I think they’re made, because it’s based on how quickly you can make a decision.
“I’ve gotten the opportunity to sit back and watch Craig for seven years now. I’ve been very blessed to be able to be in this position.”