Acadiana Business

Acadiana banks see more growth in their future

by Heather Miller

Speaking at a Gulf South Bank Conference in New Orleans last week, Acadiana-based bank CEOs discussed growth opportunities for MidSouth, Iberia and Teche banks. Growth and expansion were the key words for local bank executives who gathered in New Orleans last week for the annual Gulf South Bank Conference, where three Acadiana-based publicly traded banks laid out optimistic plans for future expansion.

According to a conference recap published in Sunday's Times-Picayune, IberiaBank predicts that another 2,000 banks will go under in the next six years due to increased regulatory burdens and an unstable economy, an estimate that the Lafayette-based bank will certainly continue to capitalize on following its successful string of acquisitions over the past few years.

MidSouth, also headquartered in Lafayette, has become "very serious" about mergers and acquisitions, The T-P reports, so much so that the regional bank has hired a senior vice president of mergers and acquisitions.

New Iberia-based Teche Bank, which converted from a federally chartered savings bank to a state-chartered commercial bank almost a year ago when the Dodd-Frank financial reform act eliminated most of the perks of being a federal bank, says technology and branch growth are two of the company's largest areas of focus:
John Davis, [IberiaBank's] senior executive vice president of financial strategy and mortgage, said that the slow economy and extended low interest-rate environment can be "painful" for banks. Broad consumer trends don't bode well for loan growth with consumers trying to de-leverage their lives and an aging population switching from taking out loans to focusing on deposits. And too many banks are still too heavy in real estate -- a model that is no longer viable, Davis said.

Michael Brown, vice chairman and chief operating officer, said that New Orleans is now IberiaBank's largest market, and the cities that hold the biggest potential for growth are Houston, Birmingham, Mobile and Memphis.

MidSouth plans to build its franchise in Louisiana and Texas. MidSouth, which specializes in energy financing, says that Texas is a good fit because of its strong economy, fast-growing population and energy industry opportunities. "We figure we can put branches in Houston and Dallas until we retire, and we wouldn't be a dominant player," [MidSouth President and CEO Rusty] Cloutier said.

As with others, Teche Federal Bank touted efforts to beef up checking account activity while reducing the amount of money tied up in CD accounts. It also bought a bank branch from Hancock in Baton Rouge, tore it down, and is building a new branch at the site.
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