Banking CEO: Big banks are bad people

Frederick "Ted" Peters took the words "Main Line" out of advertising for Bryn Mawr Bank Corp. He says the image of snobbery and elitism is wrong for his community bank. (Viviana Pernot / Staff Photographer)

"Big banks to me are bad people," banker Frederick "Ted" Peters, outgoing chairman, chief executive and president of Bryn Mawr Bank Corp. told me during our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer. "I think what the regulators wanted to do was to punish and start to control the big banks which is fine."

"The top six or eight banks in the country are not good people," he said. When I interviewed him, he was particularly outraged by the conduct of Citigroup, which on July 14 agreed to pay $7 billion to settle a federal investigation into the bank's sale of mortgage bank securities. "They were taking awful mortgages and packaging them and selling them to people." he said. 

As a result, he said, the regulatory environment "is intense and it’s overbearing, especially for banks our size."

By comparison to monoliths like Citigroup, Bryn Mawr is relatively small. But it has grown considerably since Peters came to the company in 2001. "When I came here in Jan. 2001, the bank was a little over $400 million in assets and we had five branches. We hadn’t built a branch in 16 years." Now the bank has 19 branches, $2.1 billion in assets and a separate wealth business $7.3 billion in assets. 

Some of the growth has come as a result of acquisitions. In the bank business, Peters told me, "You are either going to be a buyer or a seller. You are either going to be buying institutions as we are have been doing, or you are going to be selling. We’ve made a decision as a board to be a buyer.  We’ve done six acquisitions in six years.

In May, Bryn Mawr announced that it would be buying Continental Bank Holdings Inc., in Plymouth Meeting, adding 10 branches. Click here to read the acquisition announcement and here to read the bank's second quarter results, announced Friday.