Delayed gratification and the future of interest rates

We are taught in business school that interest rates are the expression of the time value of money. Time value of money ultimately boils down to “delayed gratification.” The lower the interest rate, the more we are comfortable delaying gratification in using our money for goods and services for ourselves. To be willing to delay the use of their money, people ask for interest to allow others to utilize their money until a later time. So, in 2021 when we experienced the lowest interest rates in modern financial history, does this sync with our society’s expanding patience for delayed gratification reaching new record highs? [Continue]

CRE looks strong in 2022 despite challenges

As commercial real estate spaces emptied following the onset of the pandemic, industry experts questioned when — if ever — the CRE market would recover. Less than two years later, CRE has returned to a strong level and is expected to grow even more over the next 12 months as the growth of e-commerce continues to fuel the need for industrial CRE. However, inflation and ongoing supply chain shortages could throw a wrench into the long-term CRE economy as businesses finalize where their employees work in a post-pandemic economy. [Continue]

Spend some extra time with your borrowers’ financials this year

It’s that time of year. Soon your loan customers will be compiling their year-end financial statements and, if their loan agreements dictate, providing copies to your bank for review. This year, like last, might include some extra scrutiny. PPP money combined with a “not quite back to normal” may make for some financial statements that don’t align with your borrowers’ pre-pandemic financials. Are your credit analysts prepared to assess the borrowers’ financial health, given these considerations? [Continue]

Entrepreneurs create banking niche

Will 2022 be the year of the entrepreneur? The Wall Street Journal recently noted that the number of self-employed workers has risen by 500,000 since spring 2020, to about 9.44 million, a 6 percent increase, and 4.54 million new businesses received federal tax ID numbers in the first 10 months of 2021, up 56 percent from the previous year. Some banks will be able to affirm the rise of entrepreneurship by delivering products and services specifically tailored to this unique customer group. [Continue]

Banker of the Year 2022: Brenda K. Foster

The 340 employees of First Western Bank & Trust likely will not use the term “acquisition” to describe how their bank leapt from roughly $1.1 billion at the beginning of 2020 to $1.85 billion by year’s end once it had absorbed Fargo, N.D.-based BlackRidgeBANK. The preferred term — according to Brenda K. Foster, leader of Minot, N.D.-based First Western Bank & Trust — is “merger.”  [Continue]

As employees return to in-person work, banks seek new normal

During shutdowns, some wondered if banks would be left with a surplus of space in their buildings if remote work became the new norm. As Covid-19 vaccines rolled out and bank employees trickled back to their offices, those worries have so far been unfulfilled. Still, with more employees working from home and consumers embracing remote banking, some institutions have reduced their space needs — possibly forever. [Continue]

When the future doesn’t live up to its hype

Data scientists have concluded at least half of all fintech articles contain the sentence: “Community banks are not known for being on the cutting edge of technology.” I’ve written it many times, and it hurts a little when I do. It happens to be true, but I’m wrong to be glum. Maybe the community of community bankers at large has seen too many tech promises fail to deliver, and so they remain skeptical of the Next New Thing.  [Continue]

What help can your bank provide to financial caregivers?

I have a close friend whose parents both have late stage cancer. In short order, questions about caregivers and safe housing, and how to pay for it, landed in my friend’s lap. She and I spoke while she prepared to temporarily move to her parent’s small Iowa town so she could manage the logistics. I was a bit troubled, therefore, when I stumbled upon a survey that revealed that 31 percent of financial caregivers said their bankers were indifferent to their needs, while 22 percent were disappointed with the support they received from their banks.  [Continue]

Take your M&A communications strategy to the next level

The pandemic turned what was a slow shuffle toward the edge of the technology cliff, into a hard shove right off the edge. Banks had to get nimble, creative, flexible and comfortable with a very different way of operating in a very short time period. And frankly, they did. The continuous push toward leveling up in the digital and technology game is often a driver for a larger decision to find one or more strategic partners, to combine resources — or organizations — to build the best, most competitive and sustainable solution. Enter the acquisition strategy! [Continue]

Automation can reduce disparities in loan approvals

The Paycheck Protection Program included guidance from the SBA to prioritize loans to businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Yet an October 2021 research paper, published by a group of New York University professors, found a disparity in the approval of PPP loans to Black-owned businesses. These differences in approval rates are not explained by factors like pre-existing bank relationships or applicant behavior. The paper’s authors suggest that preference-based discrimination occurs — and automation can make lending more equitable.  [Continue]