Views from the Road: What Do Community Banks, FinTech, and Buffalo Have in Common?

In the last few weeks, I presented at two events geared towards helping community banks achieve better performance: the Moss Adams Community Banking Conference in Huntington Beach, California and the FI FinTech Unconference in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Much of the discussions at both conferences focused on the ability of community banks to adapt, survive, and thrive rather than thin out like the once massive North American buffalo herd. Beyond thinking that I will miss the great views and weather I had for both trips, I came away with a few questions bankers should consider.

Venture Capitalists in the Family

Many family offices are built from the success of once fledgling businesses that many would now know as household names. Successor generations seek to maintain and build that wealth through prudent investments in equities, fixed income, and private equity investments in mature companies. In recent years, however, family offices have started taking notes from their entrepreneurial beginnings and are investing more in early-stage ventures. Though more often seen as LPs in traditional venture capital funds, family offices are also increasingly taking on the role of direct—and sometimes lead—venture investors.

2018 Core Deposit Intangibles Update

With the Fed positioned to hike the Fed Funds and IOER rates several more times following the September meeting, it is a good time to look at the recent trend in core deposit values.

Beach Reading: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – Qualified Business Income Deduction

Struggling to find a page-turning read for that late summer beach escape?  May we recommend the 184 pages of blissful decadence that comprise the Internal Revenue Service’s August 2018 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) regarding the Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction under the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (TCJA).  Like a tightly wound murder mystery, the regulations weave a complex web.  Tax code sections take the place of characters, the regulation’s intricacies unspooling as the narrative continues, relationships between Tax Code sections becoming (somewhat) clearer as the story (i.e., the regulation) progresses.  As the NPR continues its inexorable march, certain storylines (i.e., planning opportunities) are forestalled, yet the NPR creates a glimmer of other opportunities.1

M&A Update: Good Gets Better

After a slow start, M&A activity among U.S. commercial banks and thrifts picked up to the point where 2018 should look like recent years. Historically, approximately 2% to 4% of the industry is absorbed each year via M&A. Since 2014, the pace has been at or slightly above 4% as a well performing economy, readily available financing, rising stock prices for bank acquirers, and strong asset quality and earnings of would be sellers have supported activity.

AICPA Publishes Guide for FV Marks

On May 15, the AICPA’s Financial Reporting Executive Committee released a working draft of the AICPA Accounting and Valuation Guide Valuation of Portfolio Company Investments of Venture Capital and Private Equity Funds and Other Investment Companies. The document provides guidance and illustrations for preparers of financial statements, independent auditors, and valuation specialists regarding the accounting for and valuation of portfolio company investments of venture capital and private equity funds and other investment companies. In this introduction to the Guide, we provide a brief overview of the chapters and appendices with which PE and VC managers should develop familiarity.

Takeaways from FinXTech 2018: The Rise of Bank and FinTech Partnerships

Jay Wilson recently attended FinXTech, an industry event where the hosts at Bank Director bring together FinTech founders and bank directors and executives for productive conversations about the road ahead as partners (and competitors). In this post, Jay gives an overview of three key takeaways from the conference.

Fairness When the Price May Not Feel “Right”

The pending acquisition of commercial finance lender NewStar Financial, Inc. (“NewStar”; Nasdaq-NEWS) is an example where the acquisition price outwardly seems to be low, at least until other factors are considered.

2018 Trends to Watch in the Banking Industry: Acquire or Be Acquired Conference Recap

For those readers unable to escape the cold to attend Bank Director’s Acquire or Be Acquired (AOBA) conference in Scottsdale, AZ, we reflect on the major themes: bank M&A and scarcity, tax reform and valuation, and FinTech. For those unfamiliar with the three-day event, over 1,000 bankers, directors, and advisors gather to discuss pertinent industry issues.

It’s Tax Time: Implications of Tax Reform for Banks

Fortunately for bank stock valuations, the tax reform plank materialized in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “Act”). The Act has sweeping implications for banks, influencing more than their effective tax rates. This article explores these lesser known ramifications of the Act.

The Importance of Size, Profitability, and Asset Quality in Valuation

Determining the value of your bank is more complicated than simply taking a financial metric from one of your many financial reports and multiplying it by the relevant market multiple. However, examination of current and long term public pricing trends can shed some light on how certain quantitative factors may affect the value of your bank.

Core Deposit Intangible Asset Values and Deposit Premiums Update

Using data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence, we analyzed trends in CDI assets recorded in whole bank acquisitions completed from 2008 through the third quarter of 2017, and we compared CDIs recorded as a percentage of core deposits acquired to 5-year FHLB rates over the same period.

Emerging Community Bank M&A Trends in 2017

Current community bank M&A trends are mixed. With the spike in bank stock prices following the November 2016 national elections, the ability of buyers—at least the publicly traded ones—to more easily meet sellers’ price expectations seemingly would lead more banks to sell. However, that has not happened as the pace of consolidation declined.

In this article, we also look at the presence of non-traditional bank acquirers and the impact of FinTech as a growing M&A trend. While FinTech acquisitions of banks have been limited, viewing FinTech as a benefit of a transaction is an increasing trend.

Fairness Opinions Do Not Address Regrets

Sometimes deals can go horribly wrong between the signing of a merger agreement and closing. In this article, we consider the recent deal of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s (CIBC) now closed acquisition of Chicago-based Private Bancorp Inc. (PVTB). While fairness opinions do not cover regret, there are some interesting issues raised when evaluating fairness from a financial point of view of both PVTB and CIBC shareholders.

Creating Value at Your Community Bank Through Developing a FinTech Framework

Banks face a conundrum of whether they should build their own FinTech applications, partner, or acquire. FinTech companies face similar questions, though the questions are viewed through the prism of customer acquisition rather than applications. Noncontrol investments of FinTech companies by banks represent a hybrid strategy. Regulatory hurdles limit the ability of FinTech companies to make anything more than a modest investment in banks absent bypassing voting common stock for non-voting common and/or convertible preferred.

While these strategic decisions will vary from company to company, the stakes are incredibly high for all. We can help both sides navigate the decision process.

Is FinTech a Threat or an Opportunity?

While many bankers view FinTech as a significant threat, FinTech also has the potential to assist the community banking sector. FinTech offers the potential to improve the health of community banks by enhancing performance and improving profitability and ROEs back to historical levels.

Strategic Benefits of Stress Testing

While the potential regulatory benefits are notable, stress testing should be viewed as more than just a regulatory check-the-box exercise. The process of stress testing can help bankers find silver linings during the next downturn.

2016 and 2017: Buy the Rumor and Sell the News?

An old market saw states “buy the rumor; sell the news” which means stocks move before the expected news comes to pass. In this article, we look back at market and M&A trends of 2016, and while no one knows what the future holds, we assess probabilities of 2017.

Are Robo-Advisors on Any Banker’s Wish List?

This article offers an overview of the robo-advisory space for our community bank readers so that they may gain a better understanding of the key players and their service offerings and assess whether their bank could benefit from leveraging opportunities in this area.

Core Deposit Intangible Asset Values Remain Low

Other than goodwill, core deposit intangible assets are the most commonly recorded intangible assets in bank acquisitions, representing the benefit of having a low-cost, stable funding source. However, CDI values have decreased since the financial crisis, as deposits have less worth, so to speak, in a very low rate environment than in a “normal” environment that existed before the crisis.

A Watched Pot Never Boils: Still Waiting on Margin Relief

While net interest margin is a key metric for banks, focusing on other drivers of profitability is one way to combat margin compression in the face of further delays in interest rate hikes or upward pressure on deposit costs. This article considers opportunities for community banks, despite the current environment.

2015: A Good Year for Banks

After weak broad market performance in the first quarter of the year and slow advances during the summer, U.S. stocks generally saw amplified returns in the fourth quarter of 2015. The largest banks (those with over $50 billion in assets) generally performed in line with broad market trends, but most banks outperformed the market with total returns on the order of 10% to 15% for the year.

2015 Bank M&A Recap

The bank M&A market in 2015 could be described as steady, bereft of any blockbuster deals. According to SNL Financial 287 depositories (253 commercial banks and 34 thrifts) agreed to be acquired in 2015 compared to 304 in 2014 and 246 in 2013. What accounts for the activity? In this article, we consider bank M&A trends from 2015 against the broader backdrop of M&A bank transactions.