With 2019 nearly in the books, it’s a good time to look back on what happened in the world of Massachusetts banking and lending in this tumultuous year. Here are the five banking stories you, our readers, read the most in the year gone by.

  1. Admirals Bank Completes $26.5M Recapitalization – The once-troubled Admirals Bank appeared to turn a corner this spring as it raised over $62 million to recapitalize its operations. The bank reported more than $19 million in losses in 2017 and saw former CEO Nicholas Lazares leave his post. Also in 2017, Admirals received a federal consent order and saw a plan to sell off most of the bank’s assets to a group of private bankers fall apart. In October, the bank took another step forward by rebranding as “ETHIC, a Wealth Bank.”
  2. Berkshire Bank Faces $16M Exposure After Commercial Loan Defaults – Berkshire Bank’s third-quarter report was probably not a pleasant one to prepare as the company disclosed that a large commercial loan had defaulted, ultimately sticking it with a $12 million hit, down from initial estimates. Berkshire Bank declined to release the names of the borrower and lead lender involved, but the Albany Business Journal and the Albany Times Union linked Berkshire’s loan to the collapse of MyPayrollHr, a cloud-based payroll and human resources company that operated out of Clifton Park, New York, and shut down in early September.
  3. McGurk’s Bid to Stop Purchase of United Bank Faces Big Obstacles – Among the M&A drama this year was a long-shot campaign by William McGurk to stop People’s United Bank from taking over Hartford-based United Bank, where he was a major private shareholder and the former president and CEO. Ultimately, McGurk’s quixotic effort failed and People’s got shareholder approval for the $759 million, all-stock transaction earlier this year. It was hardly the only merger of 2019, either: Cambridge Savings Bank bought Melrose Bank, Cambridge Trust Co. bought Wellesley Bank and eight community banks merged: North Shore and Beverly banks, Pilgrim and Abington banks, Bridgewater Savings and Mansfield banks and bankHometown and Millbury Savings Bank.
  4. Avidia Shows How Relationship Between Banks and Fintechs May Shift – Former Banker & Tradesman banking reporter Bram Berkowitz’s analysis of what lies ahead in the realm of fintech attracted attention, not least because of his prediction that banks like Hudson-based Avidia could start to see their commitment to being forward-thinking cause individual fintechs to seek them out as part of a new product strategy. However, he warned, the lack of proper open core systems will continue to handicap any lender trying to innovate in this space.
  5. New Commissioner Named at MA Division of Banks – Any time a new person steps into a top regulatory role, industry sits up and takes notice, doubly so when she’s the first woman to occupy the chair in 45 years. Mary Gallagher later sat down with Banker & Tradesman to discuss her views on the banking sector and her plans for the DOB.

Our Top Banking Stories of 2019

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 2 min