What keeps Tampa Bay bankers up at night?

May 09, 2014

 

Growing loan demand is a positive sign, top executives of Tampa Bay community banks and regional banks said during an April 14 Tampa Bay Business Journal roundtable on banking. Health care companies are good credit opportunities and there’s renewed interest in commercial real estate. You can find out if your business is among those bankers want to lend to, in a partial transcript of the discussion in the May 9 weekly edition of the TBBJ.

The bankers also were frank about what worries them.

Talent. It’s all about getting the right people in place and then building relationships, said Joe Meterchick, regional president, PNC Bank.

The industry cut back on training during the downturn, leaving a void that needs to be filled, said Dom DiMaio, divisional president and CEO, Synovus Bank of Florida.“We need people to go out in the community... whatever level of loan we’re looking for, and relationships we’re looking for, the phones don’t ring the way they rung through the uptick in Florida So we need to make them ring,” DiMaio said.

Jack Barrett, president and CEO, First Citrus Bank, worries about the unqualified bankers trying to sell services instead of articulating a compelling advantage to the market. “Some bankers lament, ‘If we train them, they’ll leave.’ Well, what if you don’t and they stay?” Barrett said. “That’s really the bigger issue."

Competition. Right now, there’s a lot of fighting over the same potential loans. “We’re all looking at the same deals,” said Scott Boyle, market president, Pinellas County, Bay Cities Bank. “There’s so few good deals that those ones we all want tend to get premium pricing, which gives us some heartburn when it comes to margins and fixing rates, and what certainly is going to be a rising rate environment sooner or later.”

For large corporate loans, especially, “how do you distinguish yourself from the other big banks?” asked Steve Stagg, senior vice president, commercial banking executive, Regions Bank. “On the consumer and retail side, are you delivering the services in the right way?”

Knowing when to say no.“In the face of competitive pressures walking away when there’s not a price or structure that makes sense, for us,”said Tim Coop, president, Pinellas County, Hancock Bank.

Focus. Fred Dobbins, Tampa city president, SunTrust Bank, wants to make sure the bank continues to add value for clients, “listening to what they have to say and assuring that we’re responding, whether it be technology or the face-to-face contact in their office, on their phone, wherever it happens to be.”

Global economy.“You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to be affected by what happens in Asia or South America. You can be a company based here in Tampa Bay but you’re impacted by things happening globally,” said Bill Goede, Tampa Bay market president, Bank of America. “Are we advising them well enough on what that is and how they are prepared to work and do business in what is increasingly become a more and more global economy.”

Gen X. Ken Cherven, Pinellas County president, The Bank of Tampa, worries that Millennials will find community banking irrelevant and not see the value in trusted long-term relationships that bankers historically have built with clients. With that comes a concern over payment processing such as Bitcoin. “I’m not overly concerned about it because it doesn’t have FDIC insurance. We spend billions of dollars a year on protecting our payment processing,” Cherven said. “But those are the things that keep me up at night.”

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