BANGOR, Maine — Despite continued strong earnings in 2009 that seem to contradict a prolonged national economic crisis, Bangor Savings Bank executives remained wary of financial regulations that could create unintended consequences for community banks.
Speaking prior to the company’s 158th annual meeting, President and CEO Jim Conlon said Bangor Savings Bank had a strong year in spite of the struggling economy. The bank and its 52 branches from York to Houlton reported a net of more than 20,000 new checking accounts last year and 2,000 new small-business customers. Assets grew to $2.32 billion, an increase of 2.6 percent over the previous year and net income increased 2.2 percent to $16.9 million.
“We’re a large, independent statewide bank that is dedicated to Maine. I think that has really resonated with people,” Conlon said Monday.
Earlier this year, Bangor Savings Bank expanded further into the southern Maine market by announcing four new branches in the Portland area — an investment of about $3.5 million. Bangor Savings first opened in Portland in 2005 and added three more branches in 2007 in Portland, South Portland and Scarborough.
Jim Goff, Bangor Savings Bank vice chairman, said the recent expansion is a few years ahead of the company’s strategic plan. Although further expansion has not been announced, Conlon didn’t rule out the possibility.
“We’re blessed to have capital that allows expansion, and we’re continuing to look for strategic opportunities,” he said.
Conlon said Bangor Savings’ conservative lending approach has yielded results. Unlike some other banks, it never took advantage of subprime lending and, as a result, Conlon said that of the company’s several thousand residential mortgages on the books, just 14 are in foreclosure.
While there have been positive signs that the country is lifting itself out of the recession, Conlon said, the next couple of years will still be sluggish. He also wasn’t sure to what extent a financial reform bill that is being discussed by Congress would affect companies like Bangor Savings.
“From what I’ve seen, it’s not good for community banks,” he said. “We had very little to do with the financial crisis, but who do you think will end up paying for it? We’ll have to see how it all shakes out.”
The biggest concern among Bangor Savings Bank officials is a proposal that would levy a tax on banks of a certain size. Conlon said the company already has seen its FDIC insurance increase considerably in the last few years.