REGINALD J. SMITH President United Missouri Mortgage Co.

Reginal J. Smith first became curious about banks when his mother forced him to deposit profits from his paper route. Twenty years later, he has parlayed that fascination into a key post at United Missouri Bancshares Inc., Kansas City.

A native of Fordyce, Arkansas, the 34-year-old Mr. Smith was named president of United Missouri Mortgage Co. in January 1991. He doubled the unit's residential loan production volume during his first year at the helm. "I'm not good at sitting still," he says. "I'd rather take charge of something and run with it."

Excellent underwriting and the cross-sales of other banking products are the top priorities Mr. Smith pursues at United Missouri's mortgage origination unit. An important key to both pursuits is thorough analysis of loan applications, he said, which not only helps insure good underwriting but often reveals opportunities to provide other types of services.

The executive started working at banks while a student at Arkansas State University, where he completed an MBA in 1981. He joined United Missouri the same year, and was transferred to the banking company's fledgling mortgage unit in 1983. He was promoted five times during the ensuing seven years.

Mr. Smith is an active member of the National Mortgage Bankers Association and is a director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Kansas City, a non-profit institution that develops and rehabilitates inner city housing.

The challenge for the banking industry, Mr. Smith says, is overcoming the fallout from faddish lending strategies while avoiding quick fixes to the problems those strategies created. Mergers, he feels, are not necessarily the solution to over-concentrations of risky commercial realty loans and loans to highly leveraged companies.

"I don't see how you can combine two weak institutions into one entity that will be strong," says Mr. Smith.

His immediate career goal: to engineer further expansion and profitability in his mortgage unit. Says he, "There's still plenty of room to grow."

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