Regions Bank CEO Grayson Hall sees a lot of growth potential in New Orleans.
“Today, this is the best market we have,” Hall said, noting the city’s role as a job creator and proximity to major industrial projects.
Hall spoke to about 100 attendees over breakfast Wednesday morning (June 3) for the latest World Trade Center of New Orleans Executive Speaker Series.
Here are seven banking insights Hall shared during his talk:
1. New Orleans is a hot market. Between a growing reputation as a startup hub and its proximity to multibillion-dollar chemical plant investment upriver, Hall said the city is one of the top market for Regions and is only expected to grow.
2. The traditional bank branch isn’t going away. Regions has cut its branch footprint 20 percent in recent years, but Hall said the bank still serves 400,000 customers each year through its bricks-and-mortar offices. Sixty percent of customers will visit a branch this month. Hall said good branch locations are still a valuable asset.
3. Checks are still big, too. Hall said Regions processes roughly 2.5 million checks each year. Now that customers are able to deposit checks remotely from their smartphone, the check appears to be alive and well, at least for now, he said.
4. Banks are getting more specialized. It used to be that banks had general bankers “who knew a little bit about everything,” Hall said. Today, Regions splits its lenders up into teams that specialize in health care, energy and franchise restaurants among other industries.
5. Cybersecurity is a big concern. Recent hacks at Target and the Internal Revenue Service have raised the profile of cyber security. He noted Regions employs 75 people to shore up its systems and protect customer information from an unprecedented level of attacks. “It’s an arms race in a lot of ways,” he said.
6. People aren’t spending energy savings. Low crude oil prices mean drivers are benefiting from cheaper gasoline. While Hall said it is still not clear what consumers are doing with the savings, he considers lower energy prices are a “net positive” to the economy as a whole.
7. Banks need to adapt to tougher regulations. Hall said tighter federal banking rules are a big challenge for the industry. But he said it is time for the industry to stop complaining about the rules. “Just adapt and let’s go,” he said.