Bone McAllester Norton attorney Trace Blankenship was recently invited by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), to participate in a candid, roundtable discussion about streamlining the regulatory path to promote more de novo community banks, such as Nashville’s Studio Bank. Bone McAllester’s attorneys have been allies and advocates for financial institutions across Tennessee and the southeast for over 40 years.
The new chairman of the FDIC, Jelena McWilliams, herself recently noted in the American Banker magazine that de novo bank formation “has screeched to a historic halt” over the past decade. She has made it a priority to promote new bank formation across the country and has specifically said “the FDIC needs to do its part to make that happen.” To that end, the FDIC invited a select group of CEOs of newly-formed banks, their legal counsel, industry consultants, and state banking officials to attend a handful of small group roundtable discussions in Washington, D.C. and their six regional offices, including Dallas. The Dallas roundtable featured lively and collegial feedback from CEOs of three de novo banks that have opened in the past year in Nashville, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio, along with their advisors and a handful of state banking regulators. Discussion centered on key changes the FDIC can make in its processes to promote the formations of new community banks in the U.S., while still protecting the safety and soundness of the banking system. Trace participated in the roundtable with Studio Bank CEO and founder, Aaron Dorn, who founded Studio Bank with a talented team of directors, executives, and entrepreneurs after raising some $50 million in capital. Bone McAllester Norton has been honored to serve from the beginning as corporate counsel to Studio Bank, which was Tennessee’s first pure de novo bank approved to open since 2008.
According to the FDIC, there has been a dramatic drop in the past 25 years in the number of banks serving communities across the country: In 1990, there were about 15,160 chartered banking and thrift institutions, which had dropped to about 5,670 by the end of 2017, and the share of industry assets held by the top 10 banks rose from 19% in 1990 to 51% at the end of 2017.
Trace frequently interacts with the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, and the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions as he regularly counsels the boards and senior executives of banks, trust companies, and mortgage companies on major transactions. In addition to representing Studio Bank, he has represented financial institutions in merging and acquiring other bank holding companies and trust companies, acquiring new branches, raising additional capital, undertaking ESOP transactions, and working through tough governance and investor-related problems. The Nashville Business Journal has said, “If one of Trace Blankenship’s clients has a big decision to make, you can bet he has a seat at the table.” His practice is concentrated on mergers and acquisitions, venture capital/capital-raising transactions, securities regulation, and corporate governance/board strategy. Trace has been named to Best Lawyers in America every year since 2014 and was selected in 2017 and again in 2018 for the Nashville Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar.” He’s a longtime member of the Tennessee Bankers Association’s Bank Lawyers Committee and was a contributing author of Director’s Handbook: A Field Guide to 101 Situations Commonly Encountered in the Boardroom, published by the American Bar Association in 2017. Trace serves as general counsel and as a board member of the law firm.
Studio Bank was founded as a boutique bank to provide organizations, families, and individuals in the community with sophisticated financial services through a multi-channel delivery model that allows clients to conveniently bank anywhere, anytime. Studio Bank’s veteran banking team offers industry-specific expertise to clients in commercial banking, music and entertainment, healthcare, not-for-profit, commercial real estate, private client, mortgage banking and small business, in addition to serving the broad and diverse community across Nashville. For more information about Studio Bank, visit their website.