National banking giant Citibank announced on March 21 that it would require retail clients to no longer sell firearms to customers under the age of 21. The bank is also requiring clients to no longer sell bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. The bank also condemned gun violence and what the financial institution considers a lack of action by lawmakers.
Some local banks in Oklahoma say they don’t plan to take a similar course of action, according to the Journal Record.
“We wouldn’t take a stance on a topic that’s political in nature,” BancFirst Chief Executive Darryl Schmidt said Friday. “We may take a stance if our concentration in a particular industry or type of collateral is getting higher than the limits we set. If it starts to exceed those limits, we might curb that interest.
“But that’s an internal decision based on risk,” Schmidt said. “We don’t want to have all our eggs in one basket.”
Tom Bennett, Jr., the co-CEO of First Oklahoma Bank, told the Journal Record that his bank will invest in certain political issues, like education, but other topics are touchier. Bennett added that First Oklahoma Bank is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
“I don’t see us doing something like that,” he said. “What our concerns would be, are these people involved in legal interests? Are they good at business? Do they know what they’re doing? Can they pay us back? Those are the folks we want to back, help them be successful, create jobs and grow the economy.”
Journal Record editor Ted Streuli told KGOU that banks can affect policy change to some extend through their lending requirements. Citibank is forcing businesses to choose between following the new rules, and finding a new bank.
“The right banking relationship can be critical to a business's success. So most of them aren't going to jump ship lightly. And if following those rules isn't all that onerous for the business, they're probably going to go along with it. It might be a small thing but it's a very interesting position for a bank, especially a bank as large as Citibank to take,” Streuli said.
McCleland: You're listening to the Business Intelligence Report, a weekly conversation about business news in Oklahoma. I'm Jacob McCleland and I'm talking today with Ted Streuli. He's the editor of The Journal Record newspaper. Ted thank you so much for talking with us today.
Streuli: Thanks, Jacob glad to be here.
McCleland: Now I want to talk about a couple of banking stories that your newspaper has been following. One has to do with Citibank's decision to require retail clients to not sell firearms to customers under the age of 21. Citibank is also requiring retailers who do business with the banking giant to take bump stocks and high capacity magazines off their shelves. Have any regional or local banks here in Oklahoma chosen to do something similar?
Streuli: Well not that we know of. We talked to several banks after Citibank made that announcement and each of the ones we talked to said they don't have any intention of doing that, and that is pretty unlikely they would ever consider it.
McCleland: So what do banks like BancFirst and First Oklahoma Bank say about about banks taking political stance like this?
Streuli: Well they told us they're not really interested in doing that. They say that their decisions are based on business. You know they're based on risk and the customer's ability to repay a loan, not on their politics. Assuming of course the businesses engaged in something lawful, they just want to see their credentials not their political leanings.
McCleland: So when a lending institution like Citibank sets requirements like this I mean can that have effects on policy?
Streuli: Well it could at least to some extent. It certainly means the business is going to have to make a choice, right. They're either going to have to follow the bank's rules or they're going to have to go find it from bank. And the right banking relationship can be critical to a business's success. So most of them aren't going to jump ship lightly. And if following those rules isn't all that onerous for the business, they're probably going to go along with it. It might be a small thing but it's a very interesting position for a bank, especially a bank as large as Citibank to take.
McCleland: The other banking story I want to talk to you about is Regents Bank's decision to expand into Missouri. Now this is Regents's first bank outside of Oklahoma. Why are they expanding right now?
Streuli: Well it's a bit unusual. There was a group of executives from a local Springfield bank and they approached Regents with this idea. The Springfield bank was purchased by a larger regional bank, Arvest, And these particular bankers didn't want to work for that large of a company. So they came to Regents and proposed the idea of letting them start something new in that market.
McCleland: Now Regents Bank has really grown quite a lot over the last decade or so. What's driving that growth?
Streuli: Well the bank was purchased at that time, about 10 years ago, and they've been growing pretty aggressively ever since. In fact their asset base is about six to seven times what it was back in 2008. Their strategy has been to let each branch kind of play to its strengths in its own community, rather than taking on a bank-wide philosophy. And that's really been working for them so far.
McCleland: Ted Streuli is the editor of The Journal Record newspaper. Ted thank you so much. It's been a pleasure talking with you.
Streuli: Glad to be here. Thank you. Jacob.
McCleland: KGOU and the Journal Record collaborate each week on The Business Intelligence Report. You can find this conversation at kgou.org. You can also follow us on social media. We're on Facebook and Twitter, @journalrecord and @kgounews.
The Business Intelligence Report is a collaborative news project between KGOU and The Journal Record.
As a community-supported news organization, KGOU relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department.
The Journal Record is a multi-faceted media company specializing in business, legislative and legal news. Print and online content is available via subscription.
Music provided by Midday Static.