Even football legend Joe Montana can't escape regulatory oversight.
The four-time Super Bowl champ, who was involved in the formation of Modern Bank in New York and is a former vice chairman, spoke this week at the annual conference of the Independent Community Bankers of America. Preceding him was the $638 million-asset company's primary regulator: Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry.
"It's funny having the OCC speak before me because we have a lot in common," Montana said. "They didn't like our deposit base because there were a lot of high net worth individuals in there, so they kept pushing and pushing and pushing until we became a commercial bank."
His comments prompted some sympathetic smiles in the audience.
Conference attendees buzzed all week about what Montana might say in his speech and relayed sightings of him in the casinos at the convention site. Even Martin Gruenberg, the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., took note of the big name in the lineup during his speech on Wednesday.
"My good friend Tom Curry is speaking [Thursday] and the speaker after Tom is Joe Montana. What is it that Tom has done … so he could say he met Joe Montana?"
During his almost hour-long talk, Joe Cool entertained the crowd with stories about his childhood, locker-room antics when he played for the San Francisco 49ers and heroics on the gridiron. "Little things always come back to help you" was his message.
"You want to be No. 1," Montana said. "There is no other reason as an athlete to walk out onto that field other than to want to be the best. If you don't want to be the best, you won't be there very long."
Montana emphasized the importance of trust among colleagues and how the right people can make a difference in an organization. He also added that preparation was the key to success, a message that regulators would surely appreciate.
The audience was enthralled. Electronic devices, like the cellphones and tablets that commonly come out at conferences, remained tucked away. And unlike the regulators who spoke before him, Montana took questions from the audience.
Some folks set business aside. One attendee asked if Montana thought the new style of quarterback was here to stay. "I still think it is out to be seen," Montana said.
Attendees continued to ask Montana questions after hotel employees took away the microphones, and Montana patiently answered the queries.
Todd Buterbaugh, an executive at MVB Bank (MVBF) in Fairmont, W. Va., seemed ready to wear pads and eye black to work after the speech.
"He has a heart of a community banker in that he cares about helping people," Buterbaugh said. "His passion to help others to achieve their goals resonates with me. We are willing to get down in the trenches, and we can play at the level of a Super Bowl championship performance."