When Spring Bank opened its doors in Brookfield during the summer of 2008, no one figured it would be the last new commercial bank to start up in Wisconsin for at least the next decade.
During the previous 15 years, Wisconsin had averaged more than two new bank openings—totally new local banks, not branches—per year as executives from large financial institutions left to set up their own shops. Among the names established in that period and remaining in business today: Green Bay’s Nicolet National Bank, West Bend’s Commerce State Bank, and Hartland’s Town Bank.
Little did anyone know that the just-around-the-corner Great Recession and financial crisis would put the brakes—with a loud screech—on startup banks not only in Wisconsin, but nationwide.
Now, 10 years later, with the economy on solid footing, interest rates rising and many other local banks acquired or merged out of existence, more would-be bank entrepreneurs are at least looking into the possibility of starting up what are known in the industry as “de novo” banks, experts say.
The return of startup banks has been slow nationally in what bankers often assert is an over-regulated industry. Four opened in the U.S. in 2017 and five have started so far in 2018, according to Wilder.
There might be more by now except for the amount that capital regulators now are requiring bank-starters to raise to get approval, said David Schuelke, founder and chief executive officer of Spring Bank; and Rose Oswald Poels, president and chief executive of the Wisconsin Bankers Association. Regulators require certain levels of capital so a bank can absorb losses on loans.
Read more in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.