Scott Dienes: Creating Opportunities & Building Relationships

by Erin Rafter Monitor 100 2024
With a solid track record at industry giants like GE Capital and Wells Fargo, Scott Dienes stepped out of his comfort zone to launch a de novo equipment finance division for Associated Bank. His team works hand in hand with bank colleagues to create opportunities for customers.

Scott Dienes,
SVP & Head of Equipment Finance and leasing,
Associated Bank

Scott Dienes did not try to reinvent the wheel when he created Associated Bank’s equipment finance platform in November 2021. He leaned into his previous industry experience, including 13 years with GE Capital and 10 years with Wells Fargo, to grow the bank’s equipment finance division to $550 million in originations and a $450 million portfolio in just two years.

Transitioning from large conglomerates to a regional bank and pioneering an equipment finance division was an eye-opening experience for Dienes, providing him with a profound appreciation for what it takes to stand up a business. Now, he leads a team of eight individuals, generating the majority of its business across the bank’s core footprint in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota, with additional business spanning six states, including Texas and New York.

Associated Bank, a generalist when it comes to asset classes, is taking a three-pronged approach to the market, including product partnership with the bank, a direct-calling sales channel, and an active capital markets desk. The equipment finance and bank teams call on prospects jointly, which creates dialogue with customers about all the bank has to offer.

“We’re actively in the market seeing customers physically because I think that’s half the business,” Dienes says. “Lending is inherently relational and transactional, and I’m confident that the future, even with advancements in AI, will continue to value face-to-face interactions and genuine relationships.”

Looking ahead, Dienes aims to grow his sales and underwriting teams and position them strategically within the broader bank structure. His immediate focus is on streamlining transactions for bankers and customers, prioritizing ease and efficiency.

Considering the evolving industry landscape, Dienes believes outcomes will vary for different types of organizations, but he is optimistic about Associated Bank’s trajectory.

Rather than retreating and focusing solely on deposits, the bank continues to invest in commercial lending initiatives to win new corporate clients.

“By assisting clients in strategically investing capital, we not only facilitate their business growth but also open doors to additional opportunities beyond lending. Our focus on onboarding new clients enables us to offer a range of products and services that align with their evolving needs, ultimately enhancing client retention within our bank portfolio. It’s about leveraging our strengths and relationships to create lasting value for our clients and our institution.”

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