The first quarter is officially behind community bankers now and things are certainly looking better. Loan growth is coming back, bankers report regulations are at least more manageable than they have been and, dare we say, fun is slowly creeping back into the business.
Those are all great things to have going on, though following the crisis bankers are now a wary bunch. That is why so many still worry things could once again turn cold, just as the sun has begun to warm the industry. To keep bankers from frostbite, we have been closely monitoring things and have some interesting happenings to pass along to our readers.
At a recent convention, we overheard a high-ranking regulator talking to a small group of bankers. Being the curious type that we are, we headed for the gathering. As we neared, we heard this official tell the bankers to expect another series of crackdowns, this time in the area of "best practices." A collective groan emanated from many bankers in the group, a normal response to such bad news. When asked why another series of crackdowns was in the offing, the official just said "it was coming from DC" so there was no choice. He also mentioned that regulators had been receiving additional training to "deal" with bankers and issues that might surface.
As we pondered this discussion on a flight to another banking event some days later, we wondered what was going on and why it appeared that a new wave of regulatory pressure was being dialed up. Wasn't the crisis over? Can't we look forward yet?
As we arrived at the next event, we again came across a group gathered around yet another senior-ranking regulatory official. This time, as we came closer to the group we heard the official warning bankers to "be prepared" and to "have their ducks in a row" or face increased scrutiny in certain areas of focus.
Again, the bankers in the group were flabbergasted and one even said in a pretty loud voice, "Just when the economy is turning and we can finally get back to business, it is clear no one in authority sees things that way." The official glanced at the banker and mumbled something that sounded like "shut down" if you ask us. To be sure, this exchange clearly left bankers in the group with a strong impression that it was better to just get on board rather than to try to fight this latest crackdown.
Later that day, we noticed yet another small group of bankers gathered off to one side of the room. They had cornered the regulator again and some seemed quite agitated. One was even waving his arms as he talked.
As we wandered over we heard a banker roar "crack-brained meddling by the authorities can aggravate an existing crisis." The official then replied, "That quote is from Karl Marx! What are you trying to say?" The banker then jumped up and yelled "Power to the people," as he swung and tried to punch the regulator right in the jaw. The regulator however, was too fast. He quickly shifted out of the way, like a ninja dodging a throwing star as he jumped into a defensive position. The banker, in awe of what he had just seen quickly backed off.
As the fifteen bankers or so sat back down, one got up the nerve to ask the regulator who he was and where he learned to move like that. The regulator explained that during the crisis he had been chased by many an angry banker and it had become necessary to learn martial arts just to survive.
How did this story end and who was that regulator? Well, the good news for everyone involved is that this is nothing more than an April Fool's Day story! No bankers (or regulators) were harmed in the making of this story in any way, all characters appearing in this work are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
So enjoy the day, don't fight with any regulators and don't worry about the "best practices" crackdown because we made this all up - Enjoy April Fool's Day.