Bill Poquette, longtime editor of BankNews magazine and BankNews Midweek, passed away March 12 after a six-month battle with cancer. He was 85.
Poquette was born in Cheboygan, Mich., but spent the bulk of his career in the Kansas City region. He joined what eventually became BankNews Media in 1969, and devoted his career to covering the banking industry.
In July 2019, as he prepared to close out his 50-year career, Poquette reflected on the highlights and the lowlights of his beat, and shared his thoughts on the future of banking:
“A highlight was when Walmart applied for an ILC in the early 2000s and the FDIC held hearings around the country. I covered the one in Kansas City and it was interesting watching FDIC officials react to a panel of bankers arguing that the big retailer with its vast resources shouldn’t be allowed to compete with community banks.
“More a lowlight were all the troubles of the 1980s when so many people you knew and respected were losing their banks through bad ag loans, and often because of things they couldn’t control like the collapse in real estate and energy prices.”
On the future of community banking, Poquette said: “Attrition will continue. Tom Hoenig was probably right when he estimated we’d level off at about 2,000 banks (down from about 5,300 now). The community banking model isn’t going away though.
“Technology has really changed things, and it will be interesting to see where that takes us next. Fintechs keep trying to move in on bank territory, and I’m not convinced they’ll succeed. They don’t do relationship banking very well. Banks are sort of like a utility — nearly everyone has a banking relationship of some kind. They’re hard to get away from, and fintechs can’t completely replace them.”
After he retired, Poquette said he received greetings “from people I coached over the course of my career, letting me know how I’d helped them and how much it meant to them, especially since I’d been helped similarly, and I could pass that on through mentorship.
“Finding and keeping the right people is one of the challenges facing community banking today, but I think finance is a great industry to go into. You can have such a tremendous impact on your community by being a banker in it.
“Always keep that attitude of learning and eagerness to listen. I’ve covered a lot of banking conferences, talked to a lot of important banking people, and it felt like I was always learning something. I never lost that. When they responded, it was a thrill they saw what I wrote and responded, even to disagree with me.”
Poquette is survived by his wife, Diana, children Lisa Coon and Brian Poquette, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Friday, March 19 at the Porter Funeral Home in Lenexa, Kan. The family has asked memorials to be directed to the Salvation Army.