A Band of One's Own
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (08/27/00) Vol. 104, No. 34 p.1D; Gores, Paul

The trend among big banks in the 1990s has been consolidation, but a countertrend has been occurring in Wisconsin and other places, as an exodus of upper-level executives has provided talent and know-how to create community banks. In fact, George V. Reis Investemtn Advisor President George V. Reis believes that the consolidation wave has opened the door for such organizations, as larger banks fail to provide a number of services made available solely by local banks. Part of the appeal of community banks is the personal service and local interest, as opposed to larger banks that are centralized and cold, especially to small- and mid-sized businesses, says Mark Reinemann, a former Firstar Corp. executive and co-founder of First Business Bank-Milwaukee. Larger banks, like Wisconsin's Firstar, Marshall & Ilsley Corp., and Associated Banc-Corp., say that their activities have not reduced their interest in the small investor or small business owner, but simply increased their appeal to larger organizations. However, an advantage of the local bank is that it naturally involves community members, from businesspeople on the board of directors to area investors who provide backing. The biggest difficulty for executives interested in founding a new bank is the cut in salary and security that the move requires: pay scales are often too high in larger banks to copy at a startup bank, and the future of such an organization is by no means ensured, though bonuses and equity stakes can often make up for the uncertainties.


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