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Technology? Bankers can keep up. New regulations? We've got people to handle that. But how to account for the flight of customers, prospective employees and economic opportunities from rural areas is perhaps the biggest challenge facing community lenders and policymakers, warns a longtime Oklahoma banker.

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Only a dozen banks still owe the government Troubled Asset Relief Program money, and an unspecified number of others including Reliance Bancshares in St. Louis owe investors who bought their Tarp balances. But Reliance has made problem loans vanish and has a credit line in hand to help retire its $62 million Tarp-related debt.

Bankers generally expect loan demand to increase over the next year, but global shocks, domestic politics and regional economic variations may be prompting them to prepare for slightly slower growth than before.

Randolph Bancorp raised $57 million in a mutual-to-stock conversion and is using the proceeds to both fund acquisitions — it closed its first-ever deal in July — and dramatically improve its digital capabilities.

Bankers can bolster investor confidence by showing they are taking a disciplined approach to M&A. That involves thorough due diligence, strong rationales for deals and the ability to step away from the table.

Ten institutions are rising above national grievances to help startups – many minority owned – get up and running in a struggling mill town.
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The activist investor is irate that the company's board will not meet to discuss concerns it has over executive compensation and corporate governance.

The Bancorp is keeping its cards close to its vest when it comes to job cuts it made last week. The move is leaving analysts guessing as to exactly how many people — and what types of positions — were cut.

The scorcher at Wells is giving some community bankers an opening to differentiate themselves from larger institutions that seem fee-dependent or "too big to manage."

Bankers may have a reputation for being old-school, but their rapidly growing digital-ad budgets are in step with the rest of the business world. Banks can both gather valuable demographic data from who clicks on their ads and better measure returns on their investments.

Banks that are heavily involved in commercial real estate lending may shy away from buying institutions with similar concentrations.

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