Longtime banker knows how to cut loose

By Frank Witsel, Detroit Free Press |  Mar 23, 2014

Detroit Free Press

Matt Elliott, the Michigan market president for Bank of America, may be a straight-laced banker whose corner office in Troy is dotted with many mementos (including a never-opened water bottle) that remind him who he's working for: his clients.

But, at home, he said, he's much goofier than any of his employees — and clients — know.

As an example, he said that when his teenage kids — a son and daughter — were younger, he often imitated their favorite cartoon voices to amuse them.

"I do a good King Julien from Madagascar," Elliott, 46, said.

He and the self-proclaimed Lord of the Lemurs both hold important jobs.

As the bank's top executive in the state and the global commercial banking executive for three states, Elliott oversees about 3,000 employees. He also is responsible for the bank's philanthropic giving and community development lending and investing in Michigan.

Julien also is in an animated film about animals that escape from a zoo. Elliott, as it turns out, is on the board of directors of the Detroit Zoo.

But the similarities end there. While Julien is a conceited and larger-than-life leader, Elliott is humble and down-to-Earth.

He also has more than two decades of experience in banking, writes longhand in a Shinola-made leather notebook — and punctuates remarks with sports analogies.

The golfer talks about playing the ball as it lies and how, as he's risen in the company, he's "learning to be more coach than player."

Elliott graduated from Michigan State University, earned his master's in business administration from the University of Chicago — and married his college sweetheart.

Before joining Bank of America, he was an executive at marketing firm George P. Johnson and LaSalle Bank.

In addition to talking up his clients, he also explains how the bank aims to create prosperity — not just through banking — but also philanthropy, contributing $3 million a year in Michigan.

"We think it's important to be involved in our communities because our success is tied to the success and health of our communities," Elliott said. "We're citizens of our state and Detroit first, and we want to make sure our organization gives back and contributes."

One of the programs it offers is to annually award money and leadership training to two organizations each year.

"The feedback we get is the money is fantastic, but the education is even better," he said, adding that the bank benefits by helping others. "When it comes to the economy, we want everyone to participate and have a good job and have an opportunity to generate a living."

This article originally appeared in Detroit Free Press publication. Content was produced by outside parties not affiliated with Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, U.S. Trust or Bank of America Merrill Lynch, nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. These materials are for informational purposes only. Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, U.S. Trust and Bank of America Merrill Lynch do not assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone's reliance on the information provided.

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