Magazine article American Banker

First Internet Taps Old-School Banker to Aid Push into Commercial Lending

Magazine article American Banker

First Internet Taps Old-School Banker to Aid Push into Commercial Lending

Article excerpt

Byline: Dean Anason

You could say that the story of banker John Keach Jr. this year is old dog learns new tricks.

But, truth is, he's still doing some of the teaching.

Keach, a longtime Indiana banker, recently joined the board of First Internet Bancorp (FIBP) in Indianapolis and his advice will be sought as the online-only bank seeks to diversify into commercial lending, the bank's chief executive says.

News of the appointment last week was surprising considering Keach, 60, early this year seemed to epitomize the classic community banker whom time, fairly or not, was passing by. He had agreed to sell the family business, Indiana Community Bancorp, the holding company of Indiana Bank and Trust. Co., in January for $79.2 million. He fought back emotion the day of the deal announcement as he described why regulatory and economic challenges left little choice but to sell the bank that his grandfather, father and he had led a and what it was like to break the news to employees.

"That's obviously one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made professionally," he told American Banker at the time.

Yet Keach has decided to open a new chapter a and that is something other bankers in similar situations could learn from, says David Becker, the chairman and CEO of First Internet.

"He understood the problems that his bank faced and instead of worrying about it being a weepy day and woe is me, he jumped on it and looked for other opportunities," says Becker, who recruited Keach to the First Internet board on the recommendation of another director who had known Keach for more than 25 years.

"I praise him for taking an offensive posture and [selling his bank] before it became fire sales for community banks all over the country. His foresight, deciding to sell when he did and the ability to understand and look at a different model, and really absolutely know what we are doing a I thought it was fantastic. …

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