‘We Were Economic First Responders’

On March 25, 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating nationwide and stalking Washington, U.S. senators unanimously passed a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. Two days later, the House passed the measure and President Trump enacted it. Embedded in the law was a Paycheck Protection Program—a $349 billion rescue program for small business owners facing the prospect of having to immediately shut down their firms and … Continue reading ‘We Were Economic First Responders’

Making the Feeling Mutual

What if you gave a party and nobody came? Or to put a finer point on it, what if one of your bank’s biggest selling points—often one that’s right there in the name—flies right over the head of the people you’re hoping to sell to? Mutual community banks face a conundrum. What they consider one of their biggest selling points—the concept of mutuality—most of the … Continue reading Making the Feeling Mutual

The Bank in the Background

Here we are, three adults, sitting in toddler-sized chairs in a former church basement. High-pitched laughter and kid chatter wafts in from the next room, where snacks are about to be served. I’m in the pre-K classroom of Energy Capital Cooperative Child Care, a new daycare center in Mercer County, N.D., and I’m chatting with Dana Santini, who manages the center, and local bank leader … Continue reading The Bank in the Background

Bank City USA

Here’s a financial trivia question: What does Tupelo, Miss., have that some of America’s largest metro areas, including Atlanta, Phoenix and San Diego, don’t? The answer: at least two midsize or larger banks headquartered there. Tupelo—a town located in the gently rolling hills halfway between Memphis, Tenn., and Birmingham, Ala., and with a population a little shy of 40,000—is the smallest U.S. city to have … Continue reading Bank City USA

Herb Kelleher’s ‘Customer-Centric’ Company

An idea scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin is part of the lore of several of the greatest ideas of mid-20th century America: the Laffer Curve, the automatic fire-hose nozzle, the Space Needle in Seattle. Important concepts, simply presented. Another famous piece of cocktail napkin lore is the original concept for Southwest Airlines — a simple triangle connecting Texas’ three largest cities: Dallas, … Continue reading Herb Kelleher’s ‘Customer-Centric’ Company

The Replacements

Libor—the London Interbank Offered Rate—is perhaps the liveliest dead man walking. It underpins more than $350 trillion in mortgages, commercial loans, bonds and derivatives worldwide; U.S. dollar Libor alone is the reference rate for $200 trillion in financial instruments. And yet virtually everyone in the financial sector acknowledges that Libor’s days are numbered. The British Financial Conduct Authority has said Libor will be sustained through … Continue reading The Replacements

How Banks of All Sizes Are Winning the Talent Wars

Several years ago, as part of a bid to stay ahead of the competitive curve in talent, Zions Bank set out to reinvent a robust but fairly traditional bank employment culture. The regional bank is now finding that those investments in talent are making it possible for the company to compete as the bank talent wars heat up.  With unemployment down to 4.1 percent—a level … Continue reading How Banks of All Sizes Are Winning the Talent Wars

Making Miracles in Memphis

Viewed from Pitt and Barbara Hyde’s office perched on the bluffs of ­Memphis, the Mississippi River appears to meander lazily on its way. But appearances can deceive. The river’s smooth, muddy surface hides a powerful flow of more than 300,000 cubic feet each second, moving boats along at a rate of up to three miles per hour amid threatening eddies and undercurrents. Barbara and Pitt—winners … Continue reading Making Miracles in Memphis

Nine Young Bankers Who Changed America

Early in 2016, while tracing the history of U.S. savings banks for an article I was writing on their bicentennial, I was intrigued by the stories of two of the founders of the savings bank movement: Philadelphian Condy Raguet and Bostonian James Savage. Both were 32 when, in 1816, they founded the first American savings banks in their respective hometowns. In addition to their contributions … Continue reading Nine Young Bankers Who Changed America