VOL. 131 | NO. 85 | Thursday, April 28, 2016
Memphis Banking Market Finding Renewed Equilibrium
By Andy Meek
It took about 10 minutes for First Tennessee Bank’s parent company to wrap up its annual meeting of shareholders this week.
First Horizon National Corp., parent company of First Tennessee Bank, had a relatively short annual meeting of shareholders April 26, an indication that the tumultuous times of loan defaults have calmed.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
At the meeting Tuesday, April 26, in the auditorium of First Tennessee’s Downtown headquarters, items in the company’s proxy statement up for consideration – like the reelection of board members and approval of an equity compensation plan – also got swift approval.
Such yearly shareholder gatherings – Memphis-based Triumph Bank’s was also later that same day – can represent one barometer of something larger than just a recap of that bank’s activity over the prior 12 months. Depending on their length, executive remarks and any questions posed from shareholders, they also naturally serve as a kind of reflection of what’s happening industry-wide.
As far as those larger market conditions in Memphis? SEACAP Financial managing director Wesley Grace paints the picture of a Memphis-area banking market that’s gotten back to its old self.
“Things have normalized in Memphis,” said Grace, who on April 28 at Christian Brothers University will deliver a “state of banking” presentation. It’s part of a new annual spring event that CBU’s Barret School of Banking is putting on, in partnership with the Memphis chapter of the Risk Management Association.
“Since the Great Recession, I’d say 99 percent of banks have dealt with their problem loans and taken the necessary actions to clean things up,” Grace said. “And they’ve returned to more normalized profitability.”
While that’s a generalized assessment of banking institutions in the area, Grace’s presentation at CBU will also dive deeper, looking at everything from the valuation environment to the fundamental operating performance of banks and how they’re doing profitability-wise and on credit quality.
He also plans to talk about historical and current merger-and-acquisition and valuation patterns and in each category will talk about details from a Memphis-centric perspective.
Barret School of Banking executive director Chris Kelley said the school has been putting on an economic lecture in partnership with the RMA chapter every fall and decided it would be productive to launch a spring event, as well.
“The Memphis market, it’s competitive, because you have a few large banks like SunTrust and Regions, and then the mid-level-sized banks like BancorpSouth and Pinnacle and Renasant, and then a number of smaller Memphis-based banks,” Grace said, by way of previewing his remarks at the event. “And it’s hit-or-miss in terms of who’s performing well. Each bank’s business plan and management is what creates the better performance.”
Triumph Bank is another Memphis institution that held its annual meeting this week. It was a particularly memorable one, as the bank’s shareholder meeting April 26 at Chickasaw Country Club also served as a 10th anniversary celebration.
Triumph CEO Will Chase said he’s happy with where the bank finds itself at the moment – profitable, growing and busy. The first quarter was strong, with profitability down just slightly compared to the same period in 2015, Chase said.
“But the bank is growing,” he continued. “The mortgage division’s doing well. We’re opening up new accounts all the time. And we’re projecting another year of increased profitability.
“We had a record amount of profit last year, up almost 30 percent. We’re making good, incremental progress in our systems and processes, and I’m really excited about this year.”