18 Banks that Fintech Companies Need to Know

To build on last week’s piece (15 Banks and Fintechs Doing it Right), I put myself in the shoes of an early stage fintech company’s Founder.  Specifically, as someone with a new idea looking to develop meaningful financial relationships with regional and community banks in the United States.  With many exciting and creative fintech companies beginning to collaborate with traditional institutions, what follows is a list of 18 banks — all between $1Bn and $25Bn in size — that I think should attract the tech world’s interest.

By Al Dominick // @aldominick

Believe it or not, but bank CEOs and their teams are working hard to grow revenue, deposits, brand, market size and market share.  So a hypothetical situation to tee-up today’s column.

Imagine we developed a new, non-disruptive but potentially profit-enhancing software product (let’s put it in the “know-your-customer” sector since banks already spend money on this).  As the Founders, we want to approach banks that might be ready to do more than simply pilot our product.  While our first instinct would be to focus on recognizable names known for taking a technology-based, consumer-centric focus to banking, the low hanging fruit might be with CEOs and executive teams at publicly traded community banks — many of whom are above $1Bn in asset size and are just scratching the surface of developing meaningful fintech relationships.

With the idea that smaller banks can act faster to at least consider what we’re selling, we cull the field, knowing that as of June 1 of this year, the total number of FDIC-insured institutions equaled 6,404; within this universe, banks with assets greater than $1Bn totaled just 699.

So now we are focused on a manageable number of potential customers and can spend time getting smart on “who’s-doing-what” in this space.  Can we agree that we want to approach banks that share common characteristics; namely, strong financial performance that sets them apart from their peers and operations in strong local markets or big economic states?  Good, because assuming we are starting from scratch in this space, here are our top prospects (listed in no particular order with approximate asset size):

  1. Citizens Business Bank in California ($7.3Bn)
  2. Pinnacle Financial in Tennessee ($6Bn)
  3. Farmers & Merchants in California ($5.5Bn)
  4. Western Alliance in Arizona ($10Bn)
  5. Eagle Bank in DC ($5.2Bn)
  6. Prosperity in Texas ($21.5Bn)
  7. BankUnited in Florida ($19.2Bn)
  8. BofI “on the internet” ($5.2Bn)
  9. First NBC in Louisiana ($3.7Bn)
  10. Burke & Herbert in Virginia ($2.6Bn)
  11. Banner in Washington ($4.7Bn)
  12. Bank of Marin in California ($1.8Bn)
  13. Cardinal Bank in Virginia ($3.4Bn)
  14. State Bank in Georgia ($2.8Bn)
  15. TCF Financial in Minnesota ($19.3Bn)
  16. United Bank in Connecticut ($5.5Bn)
  17. Boston Private in Massachusetts ($6.8Bn)
  18. Opus Bank in California ($5.1Bn)

At a time when the concept of service is fast changing to reflect highly functional technology and “always-available” customer experiences, these eighteen banks — already successful in their own right — strike me as just the types to think about approaching.

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*Now I’m not suggesting everyone pick up the phone and call each’s institutions CEO.  But If you are with a fintech thinking about partnerships and collaboration, you could do a whole heckuva lot worse than spending some time learning what makes all of these banks more than just financially strong and consumer relevant.

Swimming With Sharks

A resident of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
A resident of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas

I’ve been on a lot of planes lately, and while I read a ton, I also listened to several interesting podcasts to pass the time.  One in particular brought statistician Nate Silver and author Malcolm Gladwell together with ESPN’s Bill Simmons to discuss how periodicals are adjusting to the Internet age (ok, some sports came up too). I liked their premise that it doesn’t take much skill to be the first to do something, but the later you are, the smarter you have to be.  Much as the publishing/media industry needs to speed up the creative process, so too do financial institutions of all sizes.  Take a listen to the podcast if you’re interested in their take; for three things I’m thinking about based on the last four days, read on.

(1) Yes, credit unions and banks are both financial institutions; this, however, is where the similarities end in my opinion.  I spend so much of my time with bankers that I decided to flip the script and attend the National Directors’ Convention for credit unions in Las Vegas this week.  As I depart the Mandalay Bay (today’s draft title was “Banking on Sin”), today’s tongue-in-cheek title is a nod to those organizations that compete with banks.  True, I enjoyed the cheerleading aspect of certain sessions; for example, “A Higher Purpose: Why Credit Unions Are Different Than Banks.”  Nonetheless, as session after session juxtaposed a credit union’s marketing, lending and risk & compliance efforts with those of community banks, I’m not sure why credit unions should continue to be exempt from taxes as they are.  Look, my Grandfather helped set up a credit union in Massachusetts, and I appreciate why credit unions were initially granted nonprofit status.  But as they directly compete with banks, the tax question stirs the pot at our conferences… and does have me scratching my head about the fairness of an uneven playing field.

(2) Woody Allen is credited with saying 90% of life is showing up. But John Kanas and his team at Florida-based BankUnited (which has $12.6 billion in assets) are doing a lot more than that.  At least, that’s what I’m thinking after reading “A Steal of a Deal” by our very talented Managing Editor, Naomi Snyder.  While a lot of attention in Bank Director’s current issue goes to “The Top Performing Banks” due to our scorecard that ranks all NYSE and NASDAQ listed banks, Naomi’s piece is a must-read.  As you will see, the best mid-sized bank in the country is headed by an incredible dealmaker with an appetite not just for risk but with an eye for long-term growth.

(3) Thinking about growing a bank puts a board’s role in strategic planning front and center.  So when Promontory’s founder and CEO, Gene Ludwig, writes that “Big Changes Loom for Bank Boards,” I think it’s an appropriate link to share.  In a piece that runs on American Banker, the former head of the OCC writes “the do’s and don’ts of board governance are still emerging, and there is an honest debate over the core topics — how effective new and detailed expectations are at improving safety and soundness, and whether new standards are merging the concepts of governance and management. However, the fact of the matter is that regulators are not going to back away from their enhanced expectations for the board. Board members and managers who do not take heed proceed at their peril.”  Take a read if you’re interested in his nine points a bank and its board might consider in today’s highly charged regulatory environment.

Aloha Friday!

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