10 things to watch in banking in 2017

Banks put a tremendous number of man hours and pour a staggering amount of resources in analytics so they can better understand, navigate and predict their risk environment. But there are some things that just cannot be predicted and banking leaders have to sit back and take a wait-and-see attitude. Technology, politics, interest rates and the economy are just some of the things analystics cannot predict. Here are 10 things Arizona banking leaders say to watch for in 2017. They could shake the foundation of the industry.

1. Dodd-Frank implications

Jack Barry, president and CEO of the Arizona Region, Enterprise Bank: “Increased regulatory oversight. We are still seeing significant implications of Dodd-Frank and that continues to have a big impact on the industry.”

2. Interest rates

Scott Berg, chair of the Banking and Financial Institutions Practice, Quarles & Brady LLP: “Apart from the federal elections, interest rates could have the biggest impact on the industry in 2017. If interest rates rise, particularly significantly, although this would generally be good for the banking industry, there could be an adverse effect on many consumers and small businesses, who currently pay low interest on their borrowings, resulting in a wave of defaults.”

3. Federal Reserve

Kevin Classen, president – West Valley Market, FirstBank: “A Federal Reserve decision to move interest rates from current levels could have a meaningful impact on the banking industry in 2017. Interest rates are currently at historically low levels and affect nearly all parts of banking from loan production to earnings.”

4. Innovation

Curt Hansen, chief operating officer, National Bank of Arizona: “Rapid innovation and change driven by financial technology companies and how depository institutions partner, compete and manage associated risks will be interesting in 2017.”

5. Politics

Chris Sailus, vice president and Northeast Arizona division manager, Washington Federal Bank: “Uncertainty. The political environment will be a question mark for some time, no matter who takes the presidency, until we see their regulatory stance. Just as important are interest rates; the expectations of the market and the direction from the Federal Reserve moves from Fed meeting to meeting. Moving rates up too quickly can cause detrimental effects in consumer and commercial lending, and potentially ruin a recovering housing market.”

6. The economy

Brian Schwallie, Arizona market president, U.S. Bank: “In 2017 it will continue to be the rate environment and some of the economic challenges the country continues to face. We are in an election year, so a lot will happen in the next six to 12 months. We will continue to stay steadfast in servicing our customers and maintaining close relationships with our clients.”

7. Cybersecurity

Joe Stewart, Arizona market president, and Patrick Joyce, Arizona commercial lending manager, Bankers Trust: “Cybersecurity is an issue that will continue to have a big impact on the industry. Bankers Trust is committed to the financial safety and security of our customers and we have made significant investments in both people and technology to stay ahead of potential threats. We are also keeping our eye on interest rates and the impact financial technology startup companies – or FinTechs – may have on the banking industry.”

8. Mobile banking

Mike Thorell, president and CEO, Pinnacle Bank: “Mobile Banking will continue to have the biggest impact on banking for some time to come. Banks of all shapes and sizes will have to reinvent themselves to adapt to the technological appetite of the American public.”

9. Over-regulation

Candace D. Wiest, president and CEO, West Valley Bancorp, Inc. and West Valley National Bank: “Regulatory burden is going to continue to be a problem in terms of costs, the business lines we will have to give up, the talent we need to be in compliance compared with the talent available and the brain damage of dealing with all of this. It makes zero sense to have community banks bound by rules made for the too-big-to-fail banks. Our risk profiles are incredibly different and if we fail, we don’t take down the free world economy. All of this combined has caused record-setting consolidation of the industry. We lose one community bank a day. If consolidation keeps going at this rate, it makes the big banks bigger and limits options for consumers and rural communities.”

10. Mergers

Ed Zito, president, Alliance Bank of Arizona: “We expect to see continued growth and slightly higher interest rates. We also can expect more bank mergers and branch consolidations as the banking industry at large grapples with the ‘ideal’ online/offline balance to meet the changing expectations of customers. As a dedicated commercial bank, our growth is indicative of what we believe is the perfect balance. By servicing our clients where they live and work has allowed us to be more nimble and strategic with branch expansion.