Ken Wilcox on Competing With Large Cap Enterprises

Ken Wilcox has been president and CEO of SVB Financial Group since January 2000. He joined Silicon Valley Bank in 1990 when he co-founded the company's East Coast Technology Division. In this role, Wilcox managed the first regional office of Silicon Valley Bank and was responsible for all lending activity east of the Mississippi River. Upon promotion to chief banking officer in 1997, Wilcox moved from Massachusetts to California and became president and CEO within four years. Prior to joining Silicon Valley Bank, Wilcox spent two years as a member of the Technology Lending Group with the Bank of New England and five years at Shawmut Bank in Boston. Prior to his banking career, Wilcox was a professor of German at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Wilcox received a bachelor's degree in German studies from Oakland University and a Ph.D. in German Studies from The Ohio State University. He also earned a master's of business administration from Harvard Business School. Wilcox is a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Asia Society and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. He is also an executive committee and board member of both the Bay Area Council and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

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Wilcox: When you compare our business with the business of a large cap company, we have certain disadvantages and, of course, we have some real significant advantages. I think the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. On the disadvantage side, I would say that large cap companies typically have more access to capital. So in the end, they have more resources to draw on. On the other hand, I would say that we have certain advantages [and that] give us the opportunity to win in almost every situation. Two big things, one is it’s easier for us to attract and retain the best talent, I think, largely because we’re small enough that we can have a culture that’s consistent that people are conscious of, that people can identify with and that motivates people. I would also say that our size enables us to focus to a greater extent than might be true of a large cap company. We have 1,200 people in total. Those 1,200 people are all focused on exactly the same target market. Everybody in the organization understands what we do. That laser-like focus uniform throughout the entire corporation, uniting 1,200 people, enables us to accomplish things, and to make clients happy in ways that I think are almost impossible for large corporations.