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VOL. 128 | NO. 87 | Friday, May 3, 2013

Metropolitan Bank Earnings Up 43 Percent

By Andy Meek

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Metropolitan Bank is starting off its fifth year by reporting another quarter of increased earnings – the 14th straight quarter in which that’s happened.

Metropolitan’s pre-tax earnings were $1.37 million for the quarter ending March 31, a 43 percent year-over-year increase from 2012. The bank’s balance sheet also grew at a healthy clip, with an 11 percent year-over-year increase in loans, totaling $486 million, and deposits totaling $685 million, up 32 percent year-over-year.

Metropolitan president and CEO Curt Gabardi was not particularly upbeat about the economy in a recent conversation with The Daily News, saying there’s “still tremendous dislocation.” Nevertheless, Metropolitan’s growth story continued unabated in the first quarter, with the bank seeing an 85 percent year-over-year increase in mortgage banking revenue.

That comes despite the fact the Federal Reserve recently reported that commercial loan growth at domestically chartered banks fell in the first quarter and that demand for credit remains lackluster.

“While we’ve dealt with some very difficult operating conditions in the first quarter of 2013, we remained focused on maintaining a safe and sound asset quality profile while generating predictable, quality, growing earnings,” Gabardi said. “We attribute our consistent positive momentum to the extraordinary leadership and commitment of every associate in our company.”

That momentum is something Gabardi said Metropolitan is confident it can carry through the rest of 2013. One reason for his assessment is that Metropolitan, as he describes it, is “putting a stake in the ground around talent,” with new hires a big part of Metropolitan’s story so far – and already contributing to that story in 2013.

The bank in recent days announced what it’s calling a strategic talent acquisition – the addition of four veteran bankers previously with First Tennessee Bank.

Charles McCraw, Sherry Williams and Michael Newsome have joined Metropolitan as managing directors, and Susan Hooten will be a client services director.

Metropolitan’s Memphis president Phillip May said their addition represents a validation of Metropolitan’s banking model and underscores its status as a high-performing bank in Memphis, where it has a co-headquarters presence.

Ridgeland, Miss., also serves as a co-headquarters.

McCraw was a senior vice president and manager with First Tennessee’s Mid-South Medical Private Banking division. He’ll serve as a senior managing director at Metropolitan and will focus on frontline business development for Metropolitan’s private client group.

Williams previously was a senior vice president of Medical Private Banking with First Tennessee. She has worked closely with McCraw in the past and will join him in pursuing business development opportunities in the private client group.

Newsome worked as a vice president of business banking at First Tennessee. He’s joined Metropolitan as a managing director and will mainly focus on building small-business relationships with the bank’s commercial division.

Hooten, meanwhile, also has worked in the past alongside McCraw and Williams and brings a strong background in client service to Metropolitan.

In a statement about the hires, Metropolitan’s senior managing director of commercial banking Scott Hauss said the four additions have strong reputations in the Memphis market and are examples of the kinds of new hires Metropolitan will be adding to its ranks as 2013 unfolds.

The additions aren’t just happening in Memphis. Gabardi said Nashville also is a growth market for Metropolitan and that the bank’s Nashville location started making money within nine months of launching its presence there.

Moreover, Gabardi expects Metropolitan’s Nashville presence to be a “significant earnings contributor” to the company in 2013.

PROPERTY SALES 98 172 17,556
MORTGAGES 101 194 20,229
BUILDING PERMITS 223 349 36,295
BANKRUPTCIES 52 115 11,279