Last weekend, a bunch of friends got together for our annual Fantasy Football (FFL) draft. My first pick: Tom Brady (8th overall). I'm feeling pretty good about it since he threw four touchdown passes in week one.
But it got me thinking about who would be my picks if I were assembling a fantasy banking team. So I thought I would give it a shot.
First, I needed to decide positions needed. The owner... Chairman. The quarterback... CEO. The running back... Chief Retail Officer. The wide receiver... Chief Loan Officer. The kicker... Chief Information Officer. And defense/special teams... CFO.
Criteria: I looked to Bank Director Magazine's annual scorecard for my pick. I used the $1-$5 billion in assets category, and limited my pick to a non-executive chairman, because an executive chairman can influence excellence from the CEO role regardless of holding the Chairman position. No, I wanted a top notch Chairman/Owner of my team that worked his/her magic with the gavel alone.
Selection: Chan Martin, CommunityOne Bancorp (NASDAQ: COB).
Chan was a former Bank of America senior executive, serving as the Corporate Treasurer, Enterprise Risk, and various other functions during his career. He retired in 2008 from BofA, but they thought so much of him they brought him back to assist with the Merrill Lynch integration.
He joined COB's board in 2009 after its $310 million recapitalization which was needed from a disastrous slew of losses incurred starting in 2008 as a result of awful credit decisions, leading to a 21% NPA/Asset ratio peak in 2010. Chan came as part of the recap, and rose to Chairman in 2014. Since his joining the Board, the bank has stabilized, returned to profitability, recaptured it's deferred tax asset, and NPAs/Assets have declined to less than 3%. Yeah, Chan can own my team.
Criteria: I am an aficionado of long-term total return. So when selecting my quarterback, I want the guy/girl that has the best three-year total return. I had to eliminate penny stocks, low-trading stocks, and merger targets.
Selection: Greg Garrabrants, BofI Holding, Inc, (NASDAQ: BOFI)
Greg has been in charge of the Bank since 2007. Prior to BofI, he was an investment banker, management consultant, and attorney to the banking industry. Imagine that. What has he delivered to his team? A 367% three-year total return to shareholders, when the industry averaged 60%, according to the SNL Bank & Thrift Index. He can QB my team.
The Running Back/Chief Retail Officer
Criteria: I sifted through banks with the best cost of funds and cost of interest bearing liabilities. Building a low-cost core deposit base is arguably the most difficult task in banking, and it creates significant value to the publicly traded bank because it is difficult to replicate.
Selection: Mitch Englert, EVP of Community Banking, Capital City Bank Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CCBG)
When you dig deep into the organizational structure beyond the folks you see at investor presentations, you find people like Mitch, who started his career at Capital City in Tallahassee, FL as a part-time teller. What has he accomplished? Thirty-four percent of Capital City's deposits are non-interest bearing. A mere 9% are time deposits. Cost of funds: 9 basis points. Let that sink in a bit. I'll give Mitch the ball.
The Wide Receiver/Chief Lending Officer
Criteria: I searched for banks with the best yield on loans coupled with excellent asset quality as represented by NPAs/Assets. I focused on traditional community banks and did not consider high yield type banks such as credit card banks. But I also wanted to find a community bank that focused on lending to the businesses of today, and not solely the owners of the buildings these businesses reside. They "received" their funds, and lent it into their communities.
Selection: Monty Rogers, EVP and Chief Lending Officer, Security Bank
Is there any doubt that the leader of my receiving corp would be a Texan? Security Bank in Midland, Texas lends to business, period. Their loan portfolio is 47% C&I loans... i.e. true business loans. None of this "we support businesses so long as they have real estate collateral". Sure, Monty does real estate lending too, representing 50% of the loan portfolio. But last week I was at a bank whose loan portfolio had 94% real estate loans. What has Monty delivered to Security Bank? A 6.94% yield on loans combined with a 31 basis points NPA/Asset ratio. Go ahead Monty, spike the ball!
The Kicker/Chief Information Officer
Criteria: If you believe, as I do, that more people interact with your Bank via technology channels than all other channels combined, then you need a solid CIO on your fantasy team. There are no financial metrics to rank your CIO's for the fantasy draft.
Selection: Robert Landstein, EVP and CIO and Chris Tremont (pictured), EVP of Virtual Banking, Radius Bank
Ok, I hedged. Call this one my first add/drop of the year. In my league, that cost 10 bucks. But Radius Bank in Massachusetts, the former First Trade Union Bank, is forming the type of FinTech partnerships necessary to drive community bank relevance into the future. Read more about their initiative in an American Banker Bank Technology News article here. Welcome to the team Bob and Chris!
Criteria: I want a strong balance sheet manager in the CFO role. The rumblings of Fed Funds rate hikes are strong, and a rate hike this year, perhaps this month, seems likely. So I wanted a solid one-year GAP, so the bank and therefore my team doesn't get pummeled in a rising rate environment. I also wanted a solid liquidity ratio, so the bank doesn't have to reprice rapidly to maintain liquidity. Lastly, if they can do that with an enviable yield on securities, then you're on the squad!
Selection: Greg Hollier, CFO, Gulf Coast Bank and Trust Company
My "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" investigation could not dig up much on Greg from a personal standpoint. But let me tell you this... the Bank has a 1.98% ROA, and a 22% ROE. Its liquidity ratio is 28% and only 3% of its securities are pledged. Cumulative one year repricing GAP/Assets= (5.56%). Oh, and the yield on securities is 3.22%. I think he is doing work managing the $1.3 billion balance sheet. You?
There's my team. I think it's a winner, not just for this season, but to lead our industry into the future.
Who is on your banker fantasy team?