Mississippi bankers ‘Get in the Game’ at 123rd annual convention

May 12, 2011

Banking & Finance

SANDESTIN, Fla. — Under the theme of “Get in the Game,” more than 500 Mississippi bankers and their guests turned out Thursday morning for a trade show and opening general session of the 123rd annual convention of the Mississippi Bankers Association.

The trade show drew nearly 50 exhibitors looking to provide products or services to Mississippi banks. Insurance providers, ATM sellers and servicers, web site builders, accounting and investment firms — all set up shop in the main conference room of the Village of Baytown Wharf, Sandestin Resort.

Some vendors came alone, among them Douglas P. Dreyer of executive compensation consulting firm Vintus Financial of New York. Others such as Jack Henry Banking’s Steve White and Donmark McCullough came as a team.

White and McCullough said their main goal is to sell community bankers on the idea of elevating their web sites to “must-use” status. “We help banks turn their web presence from a brochure to a brand,” McCullough said, though he noted the Monett, Mo., firm provides an array of other services on the technological side.

Vintus’ Dreyer was eager to work with bank managers and directors on the ever-changing landscape of executive compensation. “We work with them on how to connect the executive’s interest with the shareholders’ in the long term,” he said.

The opening session included a lengthy talk by Atlanta banking consultant David Kemp, president of Bankers Management Inc. Kemp, a 40-year veteran of the banking field, addressed issues ranging from executive compensation and regulatory compliance to pricing of non-interest revenue sources.

On compensation he questioned how a sector whose companies have had a 50 percent drop in share value over the last three years could see a drop of only 1 percent in pay to top executives. On the other hand, he urged boards to do what it takes to keep effective executives.

“Don‘t think your talented CEO won’t go somewhere else,” he said. “If you’ve got talented people at your bank, take care of them.”

Meanwhile, brace for seeing a lot more of the federal bank examiners out of the Atlanta office. They handle regulatory compliance for banks in Florida and Georgia, which have accounted for 40 percent of bank failures the past three years, as well as Mississippi.

Those failures hardened their outlook — and shortened their patience, Kemp said. “Regulators who have talked to you in the past will now give you a gift of an enforcement action,” he warned.

As the market continues to see loan volume dwindle and the loss of revenue that entails,, Mississippi banks must seek correct pricing of the services for which they derive their non-interest income, Kemp said. “We need to strengthen where we are getting paid,” he said, advising bankers to shoot for 20 percent of revenue to come from non-interest sources. “At least try to get close to it,” he said.

By Ted Carter

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