First Interstate's Linnet Deily: Her Star Shines at Texas Unit

After weathering a protracted downturn at First Interstate Bank of Texas, Linnet Deily has emerged as a rising star at First Interstate Bancorpand is leading a Lone Star State expansion drive.

Ms. Deily reached three milestones during the past year. Following $706 million of losses during 1988 and 1989, the Houston-based unit racked up $46 million of profits in 1990. Ms. Deily, already its president and chief operating officer, was named chief executive in the fall. And late this June, she engineered its first major acquisition in years.

Impressive ROA

These events put Ms. Deily, 46, in an enviable position in the banking world. One of the highest-ranking female banking executives in the nation, Ms. Deily also presides over a growing, $6 billion-asset bank whose 2.35% annualized return on assets during the second quarter towered over the ROA of the industry at large.

And it represents a sweet homecoming for Ms. Deily, who was raised in the small north Texas town of McKinney. Holding a master's degree in international management from the University of Texas at Dallas, Ms. Deily first rose to prominence in the banking world at the former Republic-Bank Dallas, where she led the international management division.

She joined First Interstate in 1981, and later was placed in charge of the lead bank's North American division. Ms. Deily was named president of the Texas unit in November 1988.

A self-described delegator, cheerleader, and promoter, Ms. Deily in a recent interview said her management style is "giving people opportunities to make things happen." The executive said she spends a lot of time visiting First Interstate's Texas branches and customers, explaining, "You learn a lot more out in the field than you do sitting in the office."

Since becoming chief executive of First Interstate's Texas unit, Ms. Deily also has assumed duties at the parent company. She commutes to Los Angeles and sits on First Interstate's managing committee, which meets monthly to consider strategic issues.

But most of Ms. Deily's responsibilities are in Texas, where significant challenges lie ahead.

Committed to Loan Growth

Her larger quest is booking loans. The $3.13 billion of average loans First Interstate Texas held during the second quarter of 1991 represents a 32% plunge from 1988, the year when First Interstate entered Texas through the acquisition of Allied Bancshares Inc., Houston.

Reversing the decline is especially important because First Interstate Texas cannot forever rely on tax benefits as a source of reported profits. During the first half of 1991, for example, 56%, or $30 million, of the Texas unit's profits of $53.5 million were derived from tax breaks.

The tasks at hand apparently are to the liking of Ms. Deily, who earlier this year said she had "always wanted" the chief executive's responsibilities. "My long-range goals revolve around First Interstate Texas," she said. "We've got a lot more to do."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.