Calwell Dykes doesn't like outsiders telling him how to run his bank - especially the government.
And it shows. Uinta County State Bank, the Mountain View, Wyo., community bank that Mr. Dykes has run for almost 42 years, has received eight straight failing community reinivestment grades from federal regulators. That's more than any other bank in history.
Furthermore, its president, a crusty 69-year-old former merchant marine, has no intention of changing anything about his bank just to improve its grade.
"I've put the bank ahead of the regulators, and that doesn't make them very happy," he said. "It's not that I'm opposed to what the regulators want, it's just that if I did everything they wanted me to, I wouldn't have time to run the bank."
Mr. Dykes is unconcerned about the CRA grade, because CRA has no answer to a bank like Uinta: small, profitable, isolated, and bent on going its own way.
Uinta is one of the most profitable small banks in the country. It has never been sued for discrimination, and the Community Reinvestment Act carries with it no penalties for noncompliance, other than poor grades being used against the bank in applications for mergers and other major moves - which Mr. Dykes has no plans to make.
Mr. Dykes is well known to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Uinta's CRA regulator.
"Mr. Dykes has an unusual operating philosophy, which is the best way I can put it," said Andrew Thompson, assistant vice president of the Denver branch of the Kansas City Fed. "We try to encourage banks that aren't meeting certain requirements to improve their performance, but there really isn't anything we can do to force them to take certain actions."
The Kansas City Fed's managing examiner, Terri S. Johnson, said Uinta doesn't make nearly enough loans. The bank's March loan-to-deposit ratio was a minuscule 1.9% - just $62,000 in loans. The national average for banks with less than $25 million in assets operating in non-metropolitan areas is 55% .
The bank failed its March exam under all five small-bank performance criteria under new CRA regulations: loan-to-deposit ratio, lending in its market area, lending to people of different demographic groups and to small businesses, geographic distribution of loans, and response to CRA complaints.
But it's just business as usual. No other bank the country has had so many "substantial noncompliance" scores; the next worst had only four, according to the newsletter Regulatory Compliance Watch, an American Banker affiliate.
"What the regulators want me to do is run a Salvation Army operation," he said. "But my priority is to the depositors, the people who do business with this bank."
The iconoclastic Mr. Dykes quotes Will Rogers, says the Treasury Department would be better off "declaring bankruptcy," and operates a tight ship. Uinta has just eight employees: himself, six working mothers, and a high school student who does the cleaning.
Since taking over Uinta in the 1950s, the bank has been regularly been ranked by the American Banker as among the most profitable banks with less than $100 million in assets, including an 11th place finish last year, when the $6.5 million institution made more than $120,000.
Mr. Dykes said regulators should be concerned less with rules and more with the bottom line.
"We're a rural community bank, what are we supposed to be like?" he asked. "Small people have small ways and according to the regulators, one size fits all."