Fisher's Final Speech

This week marks the official retirement of Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, after nearly ten years of service. In his final speech as President of the Dallas Fed, Fisher took the opportunity to extol the virtues of the Texas economy and suggest an “earlier and gradual” rise in interest rates in response to the improving unemployment rate.

“Fisher has been an outspoken advocate for community banking and for ending regulatory policy that led to the classification of certain financial institutions as too big to fail,” said IBAT President and CEO Chris Williston. “For these and many other reasons, IBAT applauds Richard for a job well done. His leadership at the Dallas Fed and support of the industry has been a bright spot in the post-financial crisis era,” Williston added.

We wish him the best in all future endeavors.

Dell Double Discounts

Dell double discounts continue! Dell is doubling its discounts exclusively for IBAT member banks, bank employees and customers through the month of April. On average, IBAT members enjoy savings of approximately 30% on each order. If you'd like to take advantage of this deal, visit Dell's website.

Current offers include:

  • 10% off Latitude, Optiplex, XPS, Desktops and Laptops;
  • 20% off Precision Workstations;
  • 20% off PowerEdge Servers $1499 and above;
  • 4% off Inspiron Desktops and Laptops; and
  • 10% off Dell electronics and accessories.

Ordering is easy! Visit Dell's website or contact Bryan Horten, IBAT’s Strategic Account Manager, at 512-942-9120 to order. To ensure you are getting the maximum discounts available with your IBAT membership, please include the unique Dell/IBAT link number GS126658178 when placing your order.

$1.1 MM Distribution

A $1.1 million distribution has been announced for current ABA members who are also policy holders of Financial Institution Bond, D&O and related insurance products from American Bankers Insurance Services. This is the 25th consecutive year that a distribution has been declared with a total payout of $80.1 million since 1991.

IBAT Financial Services partners with ABA Insurance Services and is proud to offer these products to our members. The program is bank owned and banker directed, providing products that are relative to exposures faced by community banks today.

OCCC Bulletin

The Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner of Texas issued Property Tax Lender Advisory Bulletin: Payoff Requests from Borrowers. The bulletin does the following:

  • Provides that a borrower and lender may pay off a property tax loan early;
  • Instructs property tax lenders to cooperate with other lenders and borrowers;
  • Sets out the steps a borrower should take to authorize a person to pay off the property tax loan; and
  • Ends with the statement that it is inappropriate for a property tax lender to send a payoff statement that is merely informational.

In Memoriam

It is with a heavy heart that we share last week's loss of two notable members of the IBAT family – Charles Edwin “Stormy” Greef and Joe E. Sharp – both of whom made a lasting impact on the community banking industry.

Born during one of the largest blizzards to hit Amarillo, Charles Greef was nicknamed Stormy by the hospital nurses. After growing up in Amarillo, Stormy graduated from Yale University before serving in the United States Naval Reserve then attending the University of Texas School of Law. He built a specialized legal practice in community banking and was beloved by many in the industry. His role at IBAT was invaluable, serving as a founding board member of the IBAT Education Foundation from 2000 until his passing. He even attended the recent IBAT Regional Meetings.

A native of Munday, Joe Sharp received a degree in accounting from North Texas State University. He went on to open his own accounting practice in Amarillo before his attention turned to banking. He acquired the First National Bank of Baird and later purchased additional banks, creating a successful organization that included several bank branches and a bank software company. From his banking career to all other aspects of his life, Joe valued relationships. He was a dedicated member of the IBAT Board of Directors from 2004-2010.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of both Stormy and Joe. They will be missed by IBAT and the community banking industry. 

Overtime Pay

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion on a case involving the U.S. Department of Labor’s rule-making procedure. The court’s written opinion is strictly about the rule-making process and is not of interest to banks. However, the consequence of the opinion is of great interest to banks. The court’s opinion gives effect to the DOL Wage and Hour Division’s Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2010-1, which states that mortgage loan officers are entitled to overtime pay.

This issue goes beyond just mortgage loan officers. Your bank needs to examine each employee’s position to determine whether it is properly classified. You should then review each position at your bank periodically because duties often change. And every employee in a nonexempt position must keep accurate time records.

Last year, IBAT published a Legal Ease Q&A on the topic of exempt/nonexempt employees that covers the four-part test for professional exemptions. Additionally, IBAT General Counsel Karen Neeley along with Dan Stern, both of Cox Smith Attorneys, wrote a blog on the opinion.

Employment Law Webinar

The next webinar in IBAT's Bank Lawyer Webinar Series is Employment Law on April 9. This series is designed to provide practical information on common bank issues and concerns to community bankers and Texas lawyers who represent community banks.The Employment Law session features real-world information for legal practices and also provides an overview of top employment issues that are or will cost your bank money. The webinar will include the hot buttons of liability that continuously cause problems for bank employers.

The following topics will be included:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Independent contractor – fact or fiction?
  • Employee travel
  • Compensation for on-call and waiting time
  • Employee bonuses
  • Payment of unused vacation or sick leave

Register for Employment Law today. You may also purchase previous webinars in the series, including topics such as Garnishments, Subpoenas & Levies, Debt Collection Minefields and Modifications V. Refinancing.

Upcoming Summits

After the fallout of the financial crisis and changes implemented by Dodd-Frank, many bankers have noted an increase in scrutiny of credit quality. In the recent white paper 2015 Regulatory Roadmap, offered by Deloitte, the firm provided recommendations for banks to consider as credit quality standards and scrutiny tightens. Among them:

  1. Make sure your management and board of directors understand the new expectations on aggregation, portfolio stress testing, leveraged lending and mortgage underwriting;
  2. Discuss with regulators what they are seeing as developing practice elsewhere in the industry; and
  3. Know your concentrations of credit risk: individual, product, geographic. Understand where contagion may arise when credit issues occur. Set limits for the firm and ensure that they are consistent with the risk appetite.

IBAT will address these and other concerns in two upcoming educational events, Credit Analysis Summit and Advanced Credit Analysis Summit, March 18 and 19-20, respectively, in San Antonio.

Baker Market Update: Mar. 16, 2015

We’ve all heard the oft-repeated lament about history repeating itself. Even recent history. And so it is, that [Friday marked] March’s reprise of February’s Friday-the-Thirteenth. So, is it mere coincidence that this month’s Retail Sales report disclosed a .6% decline on the heels of last month’s .8% decline which, in turn, came on the heels of the prior month’s .9% decline? Of course it’s a coincidence. Otherwise, this wouldn’t look like an economy poised to stand on its own two feet unaided by an artificially induced zero-interest-rate-policy. And that wouldn’t fit with the expectation that the Fed is fixing to raise interest rates. The .5% drop in the Produce Price Index announced this morning must also be coincidental because at a rate of negative .6% year-over-year, that doesn’t jive with a heating-up economy. Without food and energy, this measure of wholesale inflation stands at 1% y-o-y; down from 1.6% last month.

Read more in the Baker Market Update.

Upcoming SNL Webinar

Most community bankers are keenly aware of the complex challenges and pressures that face their organizations. However, many of them lack timely and accurate insight into how to manage these challenges and the impact on bank performance. Join IBAT and SNL for a one-hour webinar presentation on Wednesday, April 1, at 9 a.m. that will help answer the following business intelligence questions:

  • What are the key challenges that business intelligence can solve and how can banks evaluate the tools available to help bankers do so? 
  • How do the solutions for community banks differ from what the larger banks are demanding? 

We know you constantly hear about the need to leverage “big data,” but how community banks leverage “little data” can have a meaningful impact on their business.

Learn more and register here.

Blankenship Featured in AB

Cynthia Blankenship, Bank of the West (Grapevine) Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, was featured in an American Banker article last week discussing rates, regulation and oil prices. In the article, Blankenship also talks about community bankers’ renewed enthusiasm as progress is made with regulatory reform. In addition to her role as former ICBA Board Chair, she has held a variety of leadership positions at IBAT, including former IBAT Board Chair and current IBAT Director.

ICBA recently announced its 2015-2016 Executive Committee, which includes Blankenship as ICBA Services Network Chair. Additionally, Scott Heitkamp, ValueBank Texas (Corpus Christi) President and Chief Executive Officer, was elected as ICBA Board Vice Chair. IBAT once again congratulates both bankers on the well-deserved honors.