Friday, December 2, 2016
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the-bank-accountJonathan and I convened after lunch (a delicious assortment of Taco’s) to record Episode 4 of The Bank Account.  We focused on The Financial CHOICE Act as a potential roadmap for the potential bank regulatory reforms under the Trump administration.

The Financial CHOICE Act represents the the Republican’s 2016 proposal to reform the financial regulatory system.  While Republican’s regulatory reforms may vary next year based on the change in administration (and the process of going from a proposal to enacted legislation is likely to create further changes), the Financial CHOICE Act represents a good starting place in looking at potential upcoming reforms.  In this episode, Jonathan and I discuss the following aspects of the Financial CHOICE Act:

  • A Dodd-Frank Regulatory “Off Ramp” for Well-Capitalized Institutions;
  • CFPB Reforms;
  • Durbin Amendment and Volcker Rule Repeal;
  • Proposed Civil Procedure Changes; and
  • Community Bank Relief.

Please click to subscribe to the feed on iTunes, Android, Email or MyCast. It is also now available in the iTunes and Google Play searchable podcast directories.

You can also follow-us on Twitter for updates between podcast episodes @RobertKlingler and @hightowerbanks.

Friday, November 18, 2016
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the-bank-accountWe took a week off to allow the election results settle in a little bit, but Episode 3 of The Bank Account is now online.

In this episode, Jonathan and I discuss the effects the Trump rally has had on announced M&A transactions, a recent 363 bankruptcy auction whereby Home Bancshares emerged the winner of Bank of Commerce, and questions that anyone considering starting a de novo bank should be prepared to answer.

Two recent blog posts are also mentioned in Episode 3:

Please click on the link to subscribe to the feed on iTunes, Android, Email or MyCast. It is also now available in the iTunes and Google Play searchable podcast directories.

You can also follow-us on Twitter for updates between podcast episodes @RobertKlingler and @hightowerbanks.

Thursday, November 3, 2016
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the-bank-accountThey said we’d never get this far, but Episode 2 of The Bank Account is now online.

In this episode, Jonathan and I are joined by colleague Ken Achenbach to discuss the recent jury verdict in the FDIC vs. Loudermilk case and what impact it should have on community bank boards and committees.  We also discuss how board performance can be improved by focusing on strategic rather than individual management decisions.

Please click on the link to subscribe to the feed on iTunes, Android, Email or MyCast. It is also now available in the iTunes and Google Play searchable podcast directories.

You can also follow-us on Twitter for updates between podcast episodes @RobertKlingler and @hightowerbanks.

Monday, October 31, 2016
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the-bank-accountPrefer getting your banking law news via podcasts?  Need something to make your commute more informative?  Looking for a way to spend more time (at no cost!) with Jonathan Hightower or me?  Wondering what horror will be introduced to the world on Halloween 2016?

The inaugural episode of The Bank Account is online!

Please click on the link to subscribe to the feed on iTunes, Android, Email or MyCast. It is also in the review process for being added to the iTunes and Google Play searchable podcast directories. We’re also working on a home for it on BryanCave.com. Stay tuned (pun intended) for updates.

In episode 1, Jonathan and I summarize the bank M&A market for 2016, along with prognostications for what we believe we’ll see as we head into 2017.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
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The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis just published a short summary of research by economists with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City concluding that compliance costs weigh “quite a bit” more heavily on smaller banks than their larger counterparts in the community banking segment.  Looking specifically at banks under $10 billion in total assets (where additional Dodd-Frank-related burdens are triggered), the study found that the ratio of compliance costs as a percentage of total noninterest expenses were inversely correlated with the size of the bank.  While banks with total assets between $1 and $10 billion in total assets reported total compliance costs averaging 2.9% of their total noninterest expenses, banks between $100 million and $250 million reported total compliance costs averaging 5.9% and banks below $100 million reported average compliance costs of 8.7% of non-interest expenses.

While nominal compliance costs continued to increase as banks increased in size (from about $160 thousand in compliance expense annually for banks under $100 million to $1.8 million annually for banks between $1 and $10 billion), the banks were better able to absorb this expense in the larger banks.  Looked at another way, the marginal cost of maintaining a larger asset base, at least in the context of compliance costs, decreases as the asset base grows.

With over 1,663 commercial banks with total assets of less than $100 million in the United States as of March 31, 2016 (and 3,734 banks with between $100 million and $1 billion), barring significant regulatory relief for the smallest institutions, we believe we will continue to see a natural consolidation of banks.  While we continue to believe there is no minimum size that an institution must be, we also consistently hear from bankers in the industry that they could be more efficient if they are larger… and the research bears them out.

Monday, August 4, 2014
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With attorneys and staff worldwide, Bryan Cave attorneys are often quoted in the news.  Recent mentions of Financial Institutions group attorneys include:

Jerry Blanchard in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta Partner Jerry Blanchard was quoted July 18 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on reasons behind the shrinking number of banks in Georgia. The state, which led the nation in bank failures stemming from the real estate bust, has seen an increase in the number of banks being bought up at a rate of about one a month as healthy banks grow through the acquisition of other healthy banks. Blanchard said the question on many bankers’ minds is, “Can you survive the recovery? It’s hard to make money.” Click here to read the full article.

Rob Klingler in American Banker

Atlanta Partner Robert Klingler was quoted July 1 by American Banker concerning the trend among trust-preferred creditors of telling deadbeat banks that they must negotiate repayment or be forced into liquidation. Trapeza Capital Management filed legal documents recently to force FMB Bancshares in Lakeland, Ga., into involuntary bankruptcy. Trapeza, which manages a collateralized-debt obligation containing FMB’s trust-preferred securities, said in its filing that it is owed $13.6 million in unpaid debt and interest. FMB is the second lender to face involuntary bankruptcy over unpaid trust-preferred dividends. “Involuntary bankruptcies send a clear signal that doing nothing does not appear to be a good strategy,” Klingler said. “When you’re in default and tell your creditors you can’t do anything, you’re asking for an involuntary bankruptcy.”

Walt Moeling in SNL Financial

Atlanta attorney Walt Moeling was quoted July 10 by SNL Financial regarding the increase in bank M&A in Georgia this year. These recent transactions are simply logical, said Moeling, who noted that acquirers today have excess capital and outstanding commitments to put those funds to work, and they often are looking to rationalize fragmented franchises. Moeling agreed buyers are becoming more assertive and attributed some of the increased confidence to the fact that potential sellers are sitting on firmer ground. “They’re picking up a much smaller amount of problem assets and so there is a willingness to be a little more aggressive in doing acquisitions and again that’s only logical,” he said.

(more…)

Friday, February 28, 2014
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With attorneys and staff worldwide, Bryan Cave attorneys are often quoted in the news.  Recent mentions of Financial Institutions group attorneys include:

BankBryanCave.com in Banking and Finance Law Daily

Three recent blog posts from BankBryanCave.com were prominently featured Feb. 13 in Banking and Finance Law Daily. The publication’s “Blog Tracker” column, which highlights the week’s “most insightful, intriguing or entertaining blog posts from the banking and financial services community,” included our recent posts “Will 2014 be the year of UDAP and UDAAP?” by DC Partner John ReVeal and Associate Seyi Iwarere; “Should your bank do business with Bitcoin?” by DC Associate Courtney Stolz; and “Five practical tips to manage your vendor risk…,” by Atlanta Associate Karen Neely Louis  Click the post titles to read more.

Klingler in American Banker

Atlanta Partner Rob Klingler was quoted Jan. 28 by American Banker concerning Broadway Financial, which has struggled in recent years but managed to restructure its debt and recapitalize by bringing together the federal government, private equity, nonprofits and local banks. Today, the U.S. Treasury owns 52 percent of Broadway, or about $8.8 million in common stock. Broadway is one of five companies with common stock held by the Treasury as a result of a Tarp exchange, and is the only one majority owned by the government. Klingler said the Treasury typically moves quickly to cash out of such holdings. He said the stake is unlikely to scare off investors (the Treasury has vowed to be hands-off and vote along with the majority) but the government could have trouble finding investors to buy such a large block of shares.

Shumaker in Bank Safety & Soundness Advisor

Atlanta Associate Michael Shumaker was quoted at length in two front-page articles Feb. 17 in Bank Safety & Soundness Advisor concerning third-party vendor risk. Regulators are pushing for higher third-party due diligence standards, particularly the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which now requires banks to manage what it calls the full “life cycle” of a vendor relationship. “The regulators’ expectations are on a sliding scale,” Shumaker said. “The level and depth of risk management and vendor management for a $50 billion bank is not going to be expected necessarily for a $100 million bank.” A small community bank, he explained, may only have one or two material contracts that it needs to be on top of, such as for data processing and a credit or prepaid card program. Still, he said, having a “rational and structured” approach for entering those contracts not only keeps regulators happy but makes business sense.

Friday, January 31, 2014
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With attorneys and staff worldwide, Bryan Cave attorneys are often quoted in the news.  Recent mentions of Financial Institutions group attorneys include:

Rob Klingler in Bank Safety and Soundness Advisor

Atlanta Partner Robert Klingler was quoted Jan. 27 by Bank Safety and Soundness Advisor concerning an eagerly awaited amendment to the Volcker Rule, which will exempt most bank-issued Trust Preferred Securities (or TruPS). The interim final rule, however, does not exempt insurer or REIT-backed TruPS. Klingler said the exemption does not include insurer and REIT TruPS because the Collins Amendment didn’t either, and regulators modeled the Volcker exemption after the Collins Amendment. “They were looking to the Dodd-Frank Act itself for the statutory authority,” he said. “They used the Collins Amendment to form the basis for why they’re able to exempt [these TruPS]. They don’t have a statutory basis for excluding insurer-backed TruPS. They probably wanted to make sure the final rule wasn’t going to be challenged. The way to do that was to lock in the $15 billion bank asset threshold.”

Judith Rinearson in Multiple Outlets

New York Partner Judith Rinearson was quoted a number of times recently in connection with hearings in New York on the future of virtual currency, including the popular Bitcoin. She was quoted Jan. 28 by The Verge, Inc. magazine and IDG News Services (in an article that ran in IT World and CFO World) and Jan. 27 by Upstart Business Journal. Rinearson acted as an expert witness at the hearings, which could lead to the creation of “BitLicenses” to allow the introduction of Bitcoin ATMs and other Bitcoin-related startups in New York. “New York has always been one of the lead states when it comes to money transmitter licenses,” said Rinearson, who is also regulatory counsel for the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association and serves as chair for the association’s Government Relations Working Group. “But I think a lot of other states are going to be watching and a lot of states will be waiting to see what happens.”  Click here to read the full Upstart Business Journal article.

Dan Wheeler in Financial Services Publications

San Francisco Partner Daniel Wheeler authored an article for the January edition of Western Independent Bankers’ Lending & Credit Digest on common regulatory errors in making a commercial loan. Lenders often ignore or misunderstand several regulations and other laws that affect the origination of a commercial loan. Wheeler’s article discussed some surprising aspects of bank regulations and laws that can catch a commercial lender by surprise and result in a compliance violation.  Click here to read the Lending & Credit Digest article.  Dan authored an article for the January edition of Western Independent Bankers’ Directors Digest regarding current opportunities and regulatory issues related to common non-interest income opportunities, including overdraft protection.  Click here to read the Directors Digest article.  Dan also authored a lengthy article for the December edition of Banking & Financial Services Policy Report on basic interest rate swaps, which he said remain a viable and necessary tool for small community banks.  “Despite Congress’ and the regulators’ enactment of thousands of pages of burdensome and frequently counterproductive swap regulation, community banks still have compelling reasons to offer swap capability to their customers,” he wrote.  “Community bank management need not become experts in swap accounting or regulation; they merely need to understand the risks and strategy involved in the swaps they offer.”

Friday, October 4, 2013
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With attorneys and staff worldwide, Bryan Cave often makes the news.  Recent media mentions of Financial Institutions Group attorneys include:

Rob Klingler in Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review

Atlanta Partner Robert Klingler was quoted Sept. 26 in the Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review concerning what happens when TARP recipients file for bankruptcy. Congress authorized the U.S. Treasury Department to spend more than $200 billion nationwide as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program five years ago. Overall, taxpayers profited from the program. But a review of the bankruptcies of TARP recipients shows that Treasury is likely to write off about $2.8 billion invested in banks now filing for bankruptcy. “Any time you make an investment, it’s a risk-reward exchange. The only way you get any reward is to take on risk,” Klingler said. “That means some of the investments aren’t going to work out, and some of the investments didn’t work out.”

Dan Wheeler in Directors Digest

San Francisco Partner Daniel Wheeler published an article in the October edition of Directors Digest regarding the heightened due diligence and oversight requirements regulators are enforcing on banks and their service providers. Wheeler’s article details specific steps banks should take in evaluating and entering into a new relationship as well as best practices in ongoing oversight and accountability. “Regulators have clear expectations about what a bank will do to oversee its existing and ongoing service providers,” he wrote. “Although a few types of providers have gotten the most regulatory attention recently, the guidelines apply across the board to all types of third-party service providers.”  Click here to read his full article.

Monday, April 1, 2013
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Although service to clients will always remain more important than peer reviews, we are proud to announce that partners Walt Moeling, Kathryn Knudson and Jim McAlpin were each selected for inclusion as bank regulatory attorneys in Georgia Super Lawyers 2013.  In addition, partner Rob Klingler was named to the Georgia “Rising Stars” list for 2012.

Super Lawyers lists the top 5 percent of attorneys in a state or region who have attained a high level of recognition and professional achievement. Honorees are identified through peer surveys, independent research and a blue-ribbon panel review.

“Rising Stars” are chosen by their peers as being among the top up-and-coming lawyers (40 years old or younger, or in practice 10 years or less). Only 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state were selected.

In total, 27 Bryan Cave lawyers in the Atlanta office were named Georgia Super Lawyers and an additional seven were named “Rising Stars.”  A complete list of Bryan Cave’s Super Lawyers and Rising Stars is available here.