Saturday, February 12, 2011

Banker Quotes: As Told to Me

I learn a lot from bankers as I visit their offices, speak to them on the phone or at industry events. Occasionally they will offer an insight that I think my Twitter followers would find interesting. Below are quotes that I tweeted so far this year along with my brief insights or background regarding the comment. Note that if the quotes exceeded 140 characters, I would have abbreviated or substituted some words to make them fit. So if you are a CPA and want to count, a few of the quotes may exceed the 140 here, but not on Twitter. I quote bankers anonymously to protect the innocent.

@JeffMarsico Bank CEO to me: "My least tenured board member has been on the board 31 years."

jfb note: This is a common theme in community FI boardrooms. Board members hang on with white knuckles to their board seats, contributing to our industry’s slow progress in adapting to change.

@JeffMarsico Bank COO to me: “We're thinking of selling a business line but are afraid to ask accountants the impact for fear they'll make us write it down.”

jfb note: This may seem silly to you, but it is very common. FI senior executives fear what their accountants and regulators might make them do.

@JeffMarsico Chief Credit Officer to me: “Every lender I know has made good and bad loans. The key is to get them to admit to the bad.”

jfb Note: A key lesson learned by me after this crisis was the eternal optimism by lenders that their bad loans will be fine if we just let them be.

@JeffMarsico Bank finance officer to me: "If you figure out our strategy, let me know."

jfb note: This person was not a senior executive at their FI and was not tuned into the FIs strategy. Both she, and presumably her coworkers, were left out of the secret or the bank didn’t have a strategy. Either way, common themes.

@JeffMarsico Bank CEO to me: "I don't know who is making the decisions [at the FDIC], but they are making some pretty poor ones!"

jfb note: Enough said.

@JeffMarsico Me to snow blower maker: “I can't start it.” SBM: "Did you leave gas in all year. Yeah, there's your problem. Clogs the carb."

jfb note: This has nothing to do with banking, but I’m still smarting from having to manually shovel a fairly large volume of snow off of a big driveway. Not good for my 45 year old back? (rest of me is much younger)

@JeffMarsico Chief Credit Officer to me: "63% of our non-accrual loans have never missed a payment and are paying as agreed."

jfb note: I was shocked by this revelation. Their regulator made this FI put those loans on non-accrual because they didn’t cash flow.

What interesting things have you heard about our industry?

~ Jeff


  1. SVP of technology at big bank to me: "The thing about financial services entrepreneurs is that they are all banker wannabes in secret. Best outcome for them is to get acquired by a big bank." #OUCH #NOT #TRUE

  2. Good one Rob. There is a fair amount of skepticism from long-time bankers about "new-age" thinking. Some of it has merit. But a fair percentage of it really means "leave me alone, I've always done it this way and it should carry me to retirement." Not an actual quote, but I can imagine that as the internal voice.

    Any others?

    ~ Jeff

  3. An SVP of marketing told me that anything that can't be explained in 5 words would never catch on in mainstream banking. I was referring to several new things (BankSimple, PNC's Virtual Wallet, and USAA's iphone RDC) he had never heard of. He was 70...

  4. Mark, there may not be a plethora of examples of early adopters cornering a market in banking, but there are a fair amount of examples of the shortcomings of the head in the sand approach.