Make us your home page
Instagram

After years of too many failures, area banks covet stability

After 56 Florida banks failed in the past three years, the Sunshine State may be seeing some light at the end of a dark financial tunnel. Wounded banks with enough of a capital cushion remaining may live long enough to prosper again.

Let's set the scene:

• Of the 92 bank failures across the country in 2011, only 13 were in Florida. Only four of those were Tampa Bay institutions.

• Forty-three Florida banks still operating are considered extremely weak. They earned a "zero star" on Bauer Financial's 0- to 5-star ranking in the latest available quarter. Fortunately, only three of those 43 banks are based in the Tampa Bay area. Most are clustered in the Panhandle and South Florida.

• Remarkably, a resilient 30 out of Florida's 300-plus banks not only sailed through this recession in good shape but attained the highest 5-star ranking from Bauer Financial. Three of those 30 are based in this metro area.

One of those rare 5-star banks is Tampa's NorthStar Bank, which opened its doors in 2007 just before the economy tanked.

CEO Monty Weigel — bolstered by a strong board with directors like John Sykes, founder of Sykes Enterprises and JHS Capital Advisors, and former University of South Florida president Betty Castor — says NorthStar stuck to the kind of corporate and commercial real estate lending that it knows best. That's how it avoided most of the troubles that toppled or damaged so many other banks during the severe recession.

A 35-year industry veteran, Weigel now sees fewer banks out there trying to grow via excessive risk taking. Well-run, out-of-state banks new to Florida have entered the market to take up the slack. That winnowing of weaker institutions will help Florida's recovery, he says.

"We are asked routinely by the FDIC to bid on failed banks because we are strong," the NorthStar chief says. So far, no deals have been struck.

Still, the shakeout of Florida banking has a ways to go.

A new Wall Street Journal analysis suggests that failures are down in part because troubled banks aren't failing as quickly.

"Weak banks are staying alive for longer periods in undercapitalized condition, and they are in weaker shape when they fail than in the past," the Journal reports. In fact, 844 institutions remain on regulators' problem-bank list. The hefty numbers suggest we have several years yet to sort out who will survive and who will not.

This much is clear: Banks weak in capital and under the thumb of regulators can lose much of their independence in deciding whether to make loans to businesses or renew existing lines of credit. That creates a ripple effect on business customers that find their access to credit curtailed or cut off.

Even regulators are under the gun. The federal government's cost to resolve a failed bank is higher whenever an institution is closed in weaker shape than in the past.

At NorthStar, the one-office bank operates from downtown Tampa's "Beer Can" tower on North Ashley with $185 million in assets and 19 employees. Weigel is sensing more business momentum after a tough 2011.

"This is a popular place," he says. "Florida will be fine."

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

.FAST FACTS

Robust or reeling

in Florida banking

• Of the 30 healthiest, or

"5-star," banks based in Florida, three are in the Tampa Bay area: NorthStar Bank and TCM Bank in Tampa, and Raymond James Bank FSB in St. Petersburg.

• Of 43 "zero star," or weakest, banks in Florida, only three are based in the Tampa Bay area: First Home Bank in Seminole, Florida Bank in Tampa and Heritage Bank of Florida in Lutz.

• Of 13 Florida banks to fail in 2011 and to be sold off to stronger institutions, four were in the Tampa Bay region: Cortez Community Bank in Brooksville, First Commercial Bank of Tampa Bay in Tampa, Southshore Community Bank in Apollo Beach and Old Harbor Bank in Clearwater.

Sources: Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Bauer Financial.

After years of too many failures, area banks covet stability 01/04/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 8:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  2. International array of artists chosen as finalists for Pier project

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A diverse group of six artists will compete for a chance to install their work at the city's multimillion-dollar Pier District, expected to open in early 2019.

  3. Gourmet food fight between top chefs raises $200,000

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — The chefs came armed with their secret ingredients — pork rinds, truffle butter, pork bellies.

    (From left to right) Chefs Ryan Mitchell, Michael Buttacavoli, Ted Dorsey and Matthew Brennan compete during Tampa Bay Food Fight at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The event features chefs from the Tampa Bay area and benefitted Metropolitan Ministries. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  4. HSN star Joy Mangano promotes new book: Inventing Joy

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than 30 years, Joy Mangano knows a thing or two about promoting products. Now she's promoting herself.

    Inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano is releasing her first new book, Inventing Joy on Nov. 7. [TIERRA SMITH | Times]
  5. Moffitt CEO Alan List, new chair of Tampa Hillsborough EDC, outlines goals for 2018

    Economic Development

    Moffitt Cancer Center CEO Alan List was officially elected the 2018 chairman of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. at the EDC's annual meeting held Tuesday night at the Amalie Arena. He endorsed a stronger pursuit of life science business for the region and praised ongoing efforts to raise the national …

    Dr. Alan F. List, CEO of Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center, now wears an economic development hat as the 2018 chairman of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. [Special to the Times]