President and CEO Mike Vincent took some time to reflect on United Bancorporation of Alabama’s changes, accomplishments and performance from last year.
THE CORPORATION’S PERFORMANCE
We had record performance in 2021. One of the strengths United Bank has is its diversity of income streams. A lot of different lines of business contribute to the bottom line.
Residential mortgage lending was very hot in 2021. Our group had a strong year. We grew core bank loans by $66 million for the year.
Our financial services division had one of the best years they’ve ever had. We knew through the pandemic people have been sitting on large amounts of cash, so our investment arm was able to work with a lot of people to help invest some of that money.
Really, every area of the bank did a great job contributing to the whole. Then of course UBCD was solid contributor as well.
The bank received a $8 million Capital Magnet Fund award, the largest to date. It also received a $1.8 million Rapid Response Program to help with covid recovery. At the end of 2021, $10 million in PPP loans remained. Like most banks, PPP fee income was a nice boost to income but that’s coming to an end.
Over the year, our stock held its own. We still feel it’s undervalued, but it remained consistent through the Town-Country transaction and management transition.
When the transition was announced, the comfort I and the board had was rooted in the fact that we had an experienced, cohesive team that has worked together for years. That has been our message from day one: we’ve been together and we work great together. They haven’t missed a beat. Communication has been good. The operations of the bank haven’t had the slightest hiccup. We knew the transition would be seamless and that was our message to customers and shareholders
from the beginning.
THE TOWN-COUNTRY NATIONAL BANK ACQUISITION
It being our first acquisition there were a lot of details to work through, and the transaction went smoothly. The existing management team is till in place. It was important to us the face of the bank stayed the same for their customers. We wanted to minimize disruption and alleviate concerns that there would be changes in the fundamental way they operated. What initially attracted us to the bank to begin with was their commitment to the community, commitment to customer service and the nature of the lending they do. That’s their signature and nothing’s really changed and that was our intent. We didn’t want to go in there and upset the apple cart. They’ve been a successful, profitable bank for years. We looked at it as an incremental subsidiary under the holding company to contribute revenue to the whole. It’s worked out great.
It was definitely a learning experience. But by industry standards, it wasn’t a big transaction. But it was big to us, big to them and big to our employees and customers. So it was important we do it right.
It’s been a rollercoaster. You think you’re making progress and then you have to take steps backward. We’ve had to be flexible and learn on the fly. One thing we learned in 2020 is that you can never become complacent and think you’ve figured it out because there’s always a new wrinkle around the corner. You just had to navigate those waters and make the best decision with the information you’re given at the time.
We feel a great responsibility to our customers and our employee’s health and safety are paramount. We might not make the best decision every time, but there will never be a decision that doesn’t have the health and well-being of our employees first and foremost.
You’re not going to please everybody and there’s no perfect answer, but we showed the toughness and flexibility of our group. At no point did we have total operations disruptions. We may have had to go to drive-through only at a branch here or there for a few days, but all in all, we kept on operating as usual.
BEING A COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT “CDFI” FINANCIAL INSTITUTION
I’m asked all the time about the long-term viability of these award programs. But if there’s anything people in Washington on both sides of the aisle can agree on, it’s that programs like these are getting money into communities that really do need it.