Las Vegas’ three banks have about the same reaction to the nation’s financial crisis: They’re doing just fine.
Keith Tucker, president of Community First Bank, said his institution hasn’t made the risky loans that are in the news these days.
“Ninety-six percent of our loans are right here. We look at the land and the houses when we make loans. We are a small-town, conservative, risk-averse bank,” he said.
In fact, Tucker said he wasn’t aware of such fancy newer concepts as collateralized debt obligations that are causing some national institutions to sink. “We have never played that game,” he said.
In a memo to his employees, Tucker wanted to make sure that they helped him clear up public confusion between Community First Bank and the much larger First Community Bank, which has reported assets of $3.2 billion with branches in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona.
“Unfortunately for them, based on the value of their stock and news stories associated with their decline in value, they have apparently made some poor decisions regarding their asset quality and may be suffering some of the same problems that the big banks are,” Tucker stated in the memo.
“Because of that, news stories and local mitote may confuse the two of us and questions have been directed to me regarding our safety and soundness,” he wrote.
Tucker told his employees that Community First Bank is in much better shape than other banks its size because of its capital and liquidity positions.
“We certainly don’t have any of the toxic loans that helped precipitate the ongoing U.S. financial crisis,” he said.
The Bank of Las Vegas is running an advertisement noting that its overall rating is in the top 2 percent in the country.
“Too many banks are willing to loosen their loan policies and offer very generous terms to their loan customers. Perhaps they think it’s their civic duty to do so or maybe they simply don’t understand how they are putting their bank and their depositors at risk,” reads the Bank of Las Vegas ad.
Gilbert Vallejos, executive vice president of the Bank of Las Vegas, said Las Vegas is fortunate to have two stable locally based banks.
“I’m proud of both of the banks. We’ve always been conservative. Both are pretty darn strong,” he said. “We’re lucky to be living in Las Vegas.”
Wells Fargo Bank is a national institution with a couple of branches in Las Vegas. It has been distributing a flier indicating that it’s among the world’s safest banks in a Global Finance survey.
“Wells Fargo was on the Global Finance list, and we are the only U.S. bank on it,” said Marjorie Rice, spokeswoman for Wells Fargo.