Magazine article American Banker

Former ICBA Chair Blankenship Discusses Rates, Regulation and Oil Prices

Magazine article American Banker

Former ICBA Chair Blankenship Discusses Rates, Regulation and Oil Prices

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Barba

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Independent Community Bankers of America's annual convention gave me with an opportunity to catch up with Cynthia Blankenship, who chaired the group during the financial crisis.

One of the first articles I wrote after joining American Banker in late 2007 was a profile of Blankenship, a magnetic Texan and a wealth of knowledge about the banking industry. She was quite gracious with her time, particularly given my relative inexperience on the ins and outs of banking.

Our meeting this Sunday was brief -- people line up to talk to her -- but if Blankenship is representative of her peers, the mood of community bankers is on the mend.

"There is a renewed enthusiasm; a lot of bankers seem like they are ready to expand a bit," she said. "We've made some progress on the regulatory front."

Like most conversations with bankers -- perhaps all of them -- these days, the conversation inevitably turned to interest rates.

"We can make it, but it is tough," Blankenship said. "But we're all waiting for rates to go back up so we can get that bump in interest income."

Blankenship is vice chairman and chief operating officer of the $375 million-asset Bank of the West in Grapevine, Texas. The bank is a preferred lender of credit backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, which is helping keep its return on assets above 1%.

Still, it is impossible to talk to a Texas banker these days without discussing oil and gas. …

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