June 1, 2017

MBAF's Frank Gonzalez moderated the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Banking & Finance CEO Roundtable at University of Miami.

Banking CEO’s and senior executives from both community banks and large commercial banks gathered at the University of Miami on Wednesday to discuss some of the biggest issues impacting banking nationwide and in South Florida.

At the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Banking & Finance CEO Roundtable, the banking executives discussed the role of regulation on banking, the impact of future Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, attracting talent to South Florida and the growing trend of bank consolidation. The panel was moderated by Frank Gonzalez, a managing principal at Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra LLC.

The first topic of discussion among the panel was about banking consolidation, which is becoming increasingly common among banks nationwide as banks’ profits shrink and they turn to acquisitions for growth.

Jose Cueto, the CEO of the International Finance Bank, said during the panel discussion that the Bank is in the market for mergers and acquisitions.

“It’s difficult to drive earnings at banks at a certain size,” said Cueto. “You are going to see the size of banks start to dwindle.”

While Gene Schaefer, the Miami market president for Bank of America, said that acquisitions are not part of the bank’s strategy.

“We want to leverage the lines of business that we have,” said Schaefer. “We are expanding into markets that we are not in.”

On the issue of banking regulation in the current political environment, Lloyd DeVaux the CEO and president of Sunstate Bank of Florida, said he doesn’t expect much change.

“There is a lot of dysfunction in Washington… I’m not expecting a lot changes in the banking environment,” said DeVaux. “Everyone in Washington is saying they want to help small banks but I don’t see any help for small banks.”

The bankers also discussed how to attract millennials and younger workers as well as getting millennials to stay in South Florida and stop the brain drain from leaving the area.

Cueto, from the International Finance Bank, said: “We’ve taken an approach of mixing a bunch of different strategies and we are really creating banks versus transactional robots,” said Cueto. “We are only getting younger.”

The bankers largely agreed that there isn’t a talent gap that exists in the South Florida, but that recruiting from the area is difficult because of a low unemployment rate and that the market is very competitive.

DeVaux from Sunstate adds, “I think there’s a lot of talent, but with the unemployment rate is so low that it’s very, very competitive market.”

Click here to read the article on South Florida Business Journal.