Interview with Andrea Moss, president and CEO of Nelnet Bank
Andrea Moss is no stranger to the financial services industry. With more 27 years of experience in the business, starting in public accounting, to her most recent role as president and CEO of Nelnet Bank, there are not many roles with which she is not familiar.
Moss leads all aspects of the bank’s business plan and future operations, including obtaining approval of a state banking charter that will allow the bank to operate nationwide and accept deposits insured by the FDIC. Nelnet Bank seeks to be one of the first banks in Utah to be granted an industrial charter in more than 10 years.
Nelnet has a long history helping families plan and pay for their education, including more than 30 years of making private student loans. With diversified sources of funding that include deposits and securitizations, Nelnet Bank is a reliable funding source for creditworthy, education-seeking consumers in all credit markets.
Before her role at Nelnet Bank, Moss was president of Comenity Capital Bank, president and CEO of American Express Centurion Bank and an executive vice president at Zions Bank. She is also a member of the Governor’s Economic Development Board.
In 2011, Andrea was recognized by the American Bankers Association as one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance. She was selected by Utah Business magazine as one of the “30 Women to Watch” in business.
How did you get started in the industry?
I have always been in the financial services industry, but in 2005, while working for American Express, I received a call from the CFO of American Express. He told me about a banking opportunity with American Express as part of the executive team of American Express Centurion Bank. I was up for the challenge. He sponsored me and helped me make the transition to a new CFO role in the banking division. I’ve been in banking ever since.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am most proud of what I am doing right now, although, I wouldn’t yet call it accomplished. I have taken a professional risk and left a stable company and a secure position to lead a start-up effort to form a new bank. However, I believe in the company I work for and the value this new bank will provide consumers. I hope to be at the forefront of ushering in new banking institutions to Utah. The relationships I am building in the banking industry, the opportunity to select my management team and board of directors, and starting an endeavor from scratch with new technologies and products is an exciting experience. Whether this turns out to be a personal accomplishment or an invaluable learning experience, either way, I will have grown professionally.
What drew you to Utah?
I came to Utah to attend Brigham Young University, and I loved my college experience. I landed my first post-college job in Salt Lake City and knew Utah was where I wanted to stay.
What do you like most about living in Utah?
I love the four seasons, the mountains and the people. We raised five children while enjoying school sports and outdoor activities such as skiing, boating and hiking. I love the Utah culture. Hopefully, my children decide to stay, too. So far, so good.
What do you like most about doing business in Utah?
Utah has developed a unique banking niche with a community of talented professionals. There are only a handful of states with industrial banks, and Utah’s is by far the most established. Utah outperformed almost every other state during the economic downturn and has invested in areas such as education and infrastructure, which have sustained and fueled its growth and vibrancy. Utah’s culture stresses education and is ripe with entrepreneurialism and leading-edge technology.
What advice do you have for individuals considering starting a business, or relocating their business, to Utah?
Do it! You have a highly educated workforce to draw from, and once you have experienced Utah, you won’t want to leave. When you come, be sure and take advantage of the outdoor activities and everything beautiful Utah has to offer. Utah is the best-kept secret.
What is your business philosophy?
Hire and mentor talented people and help them thrive and be successful. When your employees reach their goals, everyone succeeds. I view my role as a leader and an obstacle remover. I help my team be creative in solving problems. Open and honest communication is essential. Having candid conversations, even the difficult ones, demonstrate that you care about the growth and development of individual team members.
Lastly, life is too short, so be sure you enjoy the culture of the company and the people you work with.
Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I can’t open packages or jars or bags, pretty much anything that’s sealed. I become quickly frustrated and hand it off to my nearest child or husband. They find it quite funny.