To the Editor:

As executive vice president and chief operating officer of a $1 billion multibank holding company, I read with interest the article in the Sept. 30 American Banker, "Top 100 Axed 25% of Their Charters in First Half."

I agree wholeheartedly with the premise that superregional holding companies are streamlining operations. I strongly disagree that collapsing charters is the only (or even preferred) way to accomplish that objective for community bank holding companies.

For superregionals with strong brand identities (e.g., Norwest and Banc One), collapsing charters makes consummate sense in conjunction with the centralization of support services. At our holding company, we have endeavored to retain the local bank identity and influence while simultaneously consolidating all back-room and support functions.

Our analysis indicates that improved efficiencies are obtained in consolidating common processes (e.g., marketing, operations, finance, audit, and credit administration, among others), not in eliminating charters.

Clearly, the article focused on superregionals, not community bank holding companies, so my comments are not meant as a criticism so much as a clarification. Centralization for smaller entities can involve things other than collapsing charters, and for an institution of our size, we have found that we can keep the local bank name and customer loyalty while significantly improving operating efficiency through the consolidation and centralization of all holding company support functions. John E. Sircy Executive VP and chief operating officer, CBT Corp.,Paducah, Ky.

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