Turnaround Team: New Management Shores Up Citizens Bank of Edmond

Article excerpt

C.H. Wyatt Jr. won't go so far as to say that Citizens Bank of Edmond has crossed the threshold from near-disaster back into comfort, but in less than a year since he took over the bank is much stronger.

"We're very pleased with the progress that we've made up to this point and we're optimistic about the future," Wyatt said. "Hopefully, we'll continue to strengthen the relationships in our leadership position in the Edmond area.

"We're not where we want to be, but we're headed in the right direction. I think we've reversed the tide that the bank was traveling over the last two years. ... We've made progress."

Earlier this year the U.S. Federal Reserve took action against the bank's holding company, Citizens Bancshares Inc., to improve its credit risk and loan portfolio management. At the time, the federal enforcement order did not specify the cause of the problem and company officials provided only prepared statements that said the problem was driven by a period of robust development followed by an economic reversal that hurt residential and commercial real estate values.

The bank had seemingly crossed the event horizon of the financial industry, a point of no return, the so-called 100-percent Texas ratio. That number provides a measure of a bank's credit strength, calculated by dividing the value of the lender's nonperforming assets - the nonperforming loans and other real estate owned - by the sum of its tangible common equity capital and loan loss reserves. Industry experts say that a bank's likelihood of failure increases as that ratio approaches one-to-one, or 100 percent.

Citizens Bank ended 2009 with a Texas ratio of about 102 percent. By the end of September it was down to about 63 percent.

"The bank's board of directors took swift and immediate action to be responsive to the needs of the bank," Wyatt said. "It's been a team effort."

Early this year, Chief Executive Mark Lisle stepped down and Wyatt took over. Wyatt and Chief Financial Officer Jill Castilla had been brought on board at the end of 2009, as well as Chief Credit Officer Rick Harper.

Before moving to Edmond, Castilla had served on the senior management team at Grand Rapids State Bank in Grand Rapids, Minn. For nine years, she managed numerous departments at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in both the Oklahoma City and Kansas City offices. And Wyatt has been in the banking industry for 36 years. Before Edmond, he served as chief executive and director of InterBank in Western Oklahoma for 18 years. …