Opinion

Losing sleep but not heart

Revenue related to mortgage refinance is likely to be less this year than it was last year. A decline in rates motivated homeowners to refinance in 2020, but there’s really no room for rates to drop more. Federal stimulus makes it difficult to assess true credit quality. Businesses, particularly small ones, that seem to be skating through the pandemic may actually be operationally stressed. [Continue]

Experts see economy taking flight with federal help

We can all be excused for feeling déjà vu — 2021 does feel a little like 2009, the last time a new administration came into the White House with the votes to move legislation through both the House and Senate. Both years represent periods of economic uncertainty, and a national health crisis, although the coronavirus pandemic is much more serious than the swine flu turned out to be.  [Continue]

‘The best year ever’ for small banks? Not so fast.

The Paycheck Protection Plan drove customers and revenue to community banks in large numbers last year, leading many to see 2020 as a banner year for small banks. With the second round of PPP in 2021, that trend should continue. But let’s not start celebrating yet. Banks that administered PPP successfully may enjoy gains for the short-term, but at what cost?  [Continue]

Community banks need cutting-edge tech to remain competitive

Episode Six is an Austin, Texas-based firm that develops software for financial services companies and others that use payment products. Chermaine Hu, CFO, talked to BankBeat about choosing tech that is adaptable for the long haul, but also stays in tune with the needs of commercial customers.  [Continue]

Fast cash, dirty money and the barriers that keep people out

In the COVID-19 era, the merchants I frequent or the coffee shops that dot my commute have gone all-in on cards and touchless payments. Cash is increasingly being rejected by stores for its “filth.” The other day, I placed a $20 bill on a counter to buy a $5 coffee. When the cashier saw the bill, he audibly sighed, slipped on a nitrile glove and picked the thing up like it was a dead mouse.  [Continue]

Secure your core relationships to protect earnings

Despite the pandemic, banks are flush with deposits, and loan demand, including a Paycheck Protection Program, that has kept bankers busy. Liquidity isn’t a problem. But as conditions change as a result of the pandemic, bankers must ask themselves: How can I capitalize on what I already have? [Continue]

Democratic control brings new financial leadership

With democrats now in control of Congress and the White House, the transition in political power means shake-ups in top federal economic positions, too. Democratic regulators are more likely to push for tighter banking regulations as well as prioritize increased federal relief as the economy falters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [Continue]

#QuickTakes: Chuck Mueller

Chuck Mueller, CEO of Fidelity Bank in Edina, Minn., and BankBeat’s 2021 Banker of the Year, discusses how Fidelity has benefitted from early adoption of a niche lending identity and how becoming president of the bank in 2008 taught him skills to use during COVID-19, and where he turns his focus after passing on presidential duties to Todd Williams. [Continue]

Four ways to support small businesses in the new year

They say the only constant is change, and 2020 represented a sea change. The way we live, work, and yes, pay, has all been upended in many ways. And small businesses have borne the brunt of the upheaval. The numbers tell the depth of the struggle with reports indicating that 60 percent of small businesses forced to shut their doors due to the pandemic will never reopen. [Continue]