BANGOR, Maine — While the banking industry crumbled nationwide, spurring bailouts and increased government intervention, Maine’s largest independent bank laid low.
“We took the high road on credit quality and passed on some deals that got done elsewhere,” explained Jim Conlon, president and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. “We don’t do things we don’t understand.”
By keeping a conservative, steady hand amid economic uncertainly, Bangor Savings Bank not only stayed above water, it reported a record $16.5 million in earnings for its fiscal year ending March 31.
“We’ve had our share of issues like any other bank, but given everything, it was a good year,” Conlon said Monday morning before the bank’s annual meeting later in the day. “Community banking is still alive and well.”
Conlon, along with board of trustees Chairman David Carlisle and Vice Chairman Jim Goff, admitted that although Bangor Savings has done well, the economy likely will not rebound fully for some time.
“I’ve never felt better about the bank but worse about the state of the economy,” Conlon said. “Anyone that tells us we’re banking just like we used to is wrong. But we lend in good times and bad.”
On the residential lending side, Bangor Savings added more than $66 million in new mortgages, roughly half that in refinanced loans. The loans have been safe, too. Bangor Savings stayed away from sub-prime and other risky mortgage options, and as of March 31, the bank had 7,421 mortgages and only 50 of them, or less than 1 percent, were more than 60 days past due.
On the commercial side, Bangor Savings generated $300 million in commercial and small business loans. Part of that included a low-interest revolving small business loan fund for companies to access capital when needed.
As more and more Mainers grow wary of megabanks based in New York and elsewhere, community lending institutions often are the beneficiaries.
“It also gives us an opportunity to find some good talent in the industry,” Goff said.
Bangor Savings, while independent and Maine-based, still has 52 locations from York to Houlton and offers a wide variety of services.
“People want it all,” Conlon said. “They want the safety and security of a local bank, but they want to be able to conduct business online.”
In addition to its lending portfolio, the bank continued its successful Community Matters More program in which community members can cast votes on which nonprofits should be granted funding. Last year, $100,000 was awarded to 68 nonprofits throughout the state.
Said Carlisle: “Every move Bangor Savings Bank makes supports the people and the business community of Maine. This support is essential to the long-term health of the state.”