Betsy Cohen never stops innovating.
When she was 32 she founded JeffBanks Inc., and built it into the largest bank headquartered in Philadelphia. She sold it in 2000 for $350 million, or 2.75 times book, and founded The Bancorp Inc. in nearby Wilmington, Del.
Today, the $1.7 billion-asset company is the sixth-largest custodian of health savings accounts, the second-largest issuer of flexible spending account cards and the third largest issuer of prepaid cards.
Cohen also founded a real estate investment trust in 1998, and before she got into finance she was one of the first female law professors at Rutgers University. "She didn't break glass ceilings; she is one of those seminal women who broke down walls," says Ellen Warren, who used to work for Cohen and is now president of OutSource Communications.
Cohen says she sees opportunity for growth in all of The Bancorp's key markets, both organically and through acquisition. She expects larger banks struggling to preserve capital will shed ancillary businesses. The Bancorp is awaiting approval for its bid to buy American Home Bank in Chicago from its bankrupt owner, American Home Mortgage Holdings Inc. Cohen says the The Bancorp is pursuing the deal so it can obtain a federal savings bank charter, which would allow its prepaid clients to sidestep state regulators.
Cohen says she is constantly trying to find a better way to deliver products and services. "I have always looked for opportunities to find inefficiency in the marketplace and capitalize on it," she says. "Finding more of those is a goal for us." If the right opportunity does come along, The Bancorp is in a position to pounce thanks to the $60 million in new capital it raised this summer.
The Bancorp still makes traditional loans, and credit quality remains solid. "No one is immune to the macro-economic environment, but we've been fortunate on the asset side," she says.