Fifth Third names Belle manager of Investor Advisory DivisionWritten by John P. McCartney | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As a 22-year-old, recently graduated, idealistic financier, Ron Belle came to a realization. In his one-on-one conversations with his clients, it dawned on him that “people don’t understand. They don’t understand how important it is to know what’s on their credit report, to know how to responsibly use credit.”
At that point, Belle knew he would eventually embark upon a banking career.
Nineteen years later, Bell has accepted a position at Fifth Third Bank as senior vice president and manager of the Investment Advisors Division. He is responsible for the overall management of the division, which provides personal trust, investments, wealth planning and private banking services.
Belle readily admits all the “bankspeak” sometimes makes banking unattractive for the common person.
“To most people, their banking is personal. And yet we hear the news about J.P. Morgan and Wall Street. And let’s face it, not all of us know and understand the huge headline, the big splashes. That thing about J.P. Morgan and what’s going on there is that’s not in most of our worlds. You hear it. You get scared by it.
“But, really, that kind of banking, it’s not going to affect people or their accounts or their relationship with their bank here in Toledo. And I think that’s probably the one piece that people forget.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, man, what’s going on in Wall Street?’ Well, we’re a long way from Wall Street. Not to say that what happens there doesn’t affect everybody’s life to some degree. But it’s not what the average person who does their banking every day gets. It’s their relationship, the conversation sitting across the table.”
Belle’s insight into the fear that Wall Street headlines generate fits perfectly into Fifth Third Bank’s approach to serving its clients, said Bob LaClair, president of Fifth Third Bank Northwestern Ohio.
“Banking is a relationship business,” LaClair said. “We take that very seriously. We are a one-on-one kind of company where we’re sitting across the table, whether it is in a branch or a customer’s office or down in our main office. It’s very much a relationship business.”
Belle credits his parents’ guidance and the values he learned growing up in Syracuse, N.Y., for his career success.
The oldest of four children, Belle spent his childhood dreaming of being an FBI or Secret Service agent. However, watching his father, who worked in the beverage industry, spend his evenings preparing hand-written reports made an indelible impression on the young Belle.
“Talk about work ethic and things of that nature,” Belle said. “Working hard. He’s been the role model for that.”
Belle and Diane, his wife of two years, moved to Toledo in mid-May from their home in Metro Detroit, just east of Rochester Hills. The couple has one son, Ronald III, who they call Ronny. Diane Belle works as an accountant with a background in hospitals and nonprofit organizations.
When he was being considered for the Fifth Third Bank job, Belle researched living conditions in the Greater Toledo area. To his surprise, he discovered that Toledo is very much like his childhood hometown.
“Growing up in Syracuse, I found out Toledo is very much like Syracuse, size-wise,” he said. “But there are much better winters here. Believe me, 100-plus inches a year — it’s much better here.”
Belle sees Toledo as a vibrant community and is pleased that it offers a lot of support for the arts.
“And as I leave here, there’s a Mud Hens game,” he said. “At 6, 6:30 in the evening, it’s amazing to see the crowds there.”
“What Toledo offers is the ability to get involved. Both my wife and I have a history of being on boards [of trustees], being involved in the community.
“And Toledo offers that. And I think that we’re very excited about being in the community, and being involved.”
Although Belle said there is no such thing as a typical day in the banking world, he said he split his time between “working with my team, ensuring that what we do and how we do it are done well” and “the real fun part of the job — getting in front of and talking with clients.”
Belle is most pleased when he and his team “do a very good job in the relationship side of things. At the end of the day, that’s the differential.
“It’s how you deliver services to customers, and we do that through relationships, not through pricing. Not through maybe bells and whistles. And while those are important, it’s the relationship … that makes the difference with the customer.”