A New, Modest Bank Offers An Industry Bright Spot

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 - 09:55 AM

I just spoke with a hopeful banker on the show and it really brightened my day. Hartie Spence is the President and CEO of Lakeside Bank in Louisiana. That may sound a little more impressive than the reality of Mr. Spence’s new gig, but then most banks have tortured metaphorical names like “First Federal Mutual Providential Acceptance Savings Bank and Trust Company,” designed to reassure people about the safety of their money.

There’s nothing metaphorical about Lakeside Bank, though. Its double-wide trailer building is located right by a real lake, Lake Charles, La. Lakeside is also the first and only FDIC chartered bank to OPEN in a year of accelerating bank closings in the midst of the recession. The humble style of Hartie Spence and the humble decor of this $12 million institution feel more reassuring than any stone pillars, leather furniture or huge armored vaults do these days. Hartie came out of retirement after 46 years in the banking business to bring this community bank into the world. The FDIC was impressed enough to green light Lakeside’s start-up. It’s the first and only bank to be allowed to open for business in 2010.

Hartie’s optimistic “let’s get out there and lend money to people!” attitude was really pleasing to hear. You got the feeling that he was talking to you, not just looking at a credit score. If that’s the idea of where the banking industry should be headed, it would be great if Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner would attend the opening and sample some of the free coffee, maybe even hold a news conference with Hartie. Not likely. The FDIC may have produced the biggest headline in the financial world this year. “Lakeside Bank Startup Causes Consumer Confidence Spike! CEO Spence says credit easing.”

Headlines we’d love to see.


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