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ANHD Applauds M&T Bank Chief Executive for Winning Banker of the Year Award

December 28, 2011

Earlier this month, the Chief Executive Officer of M&T Bank, Robert Wilmers, was named 2011 Banker of the Year by the financial industry trade publication American Banker. The staff at ANHD is apparently not reading American Banker as closely as we should, because we were surprised by the selection. We think of American Banker as, more often then not, enunciating the point of view of the large commercial banks, for example, inveighing against many of the important and common-sense provisions in the Dodd-Frank financial industry reform act. Robert Wilmers, on the other hand, is something of a contrarian within the bank industry, a powerful advocate for community-based banking and smaller banks who argues that the key business and public obligation of banks is to rely on local knowledge to guide the process of gathering customer deposits and extending credit where it is needed. From his June 13th op-ed, Small Banks, Big Banks, Giant Differences, in Bloomberg News: There are reasons for bankers like me to view these as good times. Bank profits are up and failures have ebbed. Nonetheless, I remain troubled about the state of the financial-services industry. Here’s why: community banks have given way to big banks and excessive industry concentration; profits are increasingly driven by risky trading; leverage is taking precedence over prudent lending; compensation is out of control. This toxic combination leads to continued taxpayer risk and threatens long- term U.S. prosperity. You can read the op-ed in its entirety here. Wilmer goes on to make a powerful argument for community-based banking and smaller banks. M&T Bank is a mid-side commercial bank, which American Banker praised for weathering the current economic downturn far better then most of its peers because the bank followed Wilmer’s core philosophy of knowing its local markets and lending appropriately and responsibly. M &T Bank has consistently ranked high in ANHD’s State of Bank Reinvestment in New York City analysis, and ANHD applauds Robert Wilmers for winner the Banker of the Year award.

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