Here's the problem: You need a financial officer who can play hardball with your banker. Here's the solution: Hire your banker.

Given the difficulties many chief executive officers have in finding qualified individuals for the role of chief financial officer, banks are a logical source of potential candidates. For their part, loan officers belong to an industry that is notoriously conservative and low paying.Many may jump at the chance for a job with more hands-on involvement, greater mobility, and higher salary.

Assigning a financial role to the new recruit is the most common procedure, but a company's banker can fill other key slots as well, attests Larry L. "Butch" Brown. "I believe in keeping my banker totally informed about any changes going on in the company," says Brown, president of Riverside Central Services Inc., a $3-million private warehouse in Natchez, Miss. When his warehouse manager quit, it was only natural for Brown to tell Kevin Smith, his loan officer of 15 years, that none of the 40 applicants he interviewed appeared to have the people skills necessary for the job. "Maybe I should get you in here," Brown said. Smith agreed.

Within six months, the warehouse was handling double the tonnage of the previous year, with fewer employees. "I've known [Brown] for so long that the first day on the job, I could have told you any of the policies he wanted carried out," says Smith. "I didn't bring in any new systems. I just helped people better manage their time."

Other bankers who have made the transition cite the shortened learning curve as a plus for both parties: Given his or her existing familiarity with the company's operation, a banker can become an effective voice within the company almost immediately. Furthermore, says another defector, ex-bankers are in a good position to evaluate terms of loan agreements. One individual, who asked not to be named, ended up pulling the majority of his company's business away from his old employer. "It simply wasn't giving us the best terms that I knew it could," he says.