BB&T Chairman and CEO Kelly King appeared on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas” to discuss the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis, BB&T’s ability to weather the downturn and BB&T’s outlook on Hurricane Florence. Here’s an excerpt from that interview.
Bloomberg Anchor: Give us a sense of how BB&T did it. Looking back, I know you took over from (former BB&T CEO) John Allison just right in the middle of the crisis.
Kelly King: Our transition was well telegraphed and planned. Obviously, we didn't, like anyone else, predict a crisis of this kind of magnitude, but we had always been and remain a very conservative institution. That's why we've been around for 146 years. That's why we made it through the Great Depression. We were the only bank in the Carolinas that stayed open the entire process during the Great Depression. We've always prided ourselves in being conservative and being prepared to weather difficult circumstances. I don't say this in a braggadocious way but just in a way of expressing that's the way we operate. It should not be too surprising that we did pretty well during the crisis.
Bloomberg Anchor: Kelly one of the things that happened because of the crisis was a lot of new regulations that came into effect from the federal level. And we've heard a fair amount about how that wasn't quite fair to the regional banks – that they were applied across the board. But if you were that conservative, did it really make a difference to you because you probably were functioning in a way that was within the regulations anyway?
Kelly King: That's basically right. The regulations, in terms of increased capital, were not a material issue for BB&T. We were already extremely well capitalized. You know the consumer protection laws that came about were not particularly a change for us. Now there were changes that were imposed on all the systems – some of which were good, some of which were bad – that impacted BB&T, as well. I would say we were not as impacted as some institutions that were operating more on the fringe.
Bloomberg Anchor: Has that differentiation been fixed now? There's been a fair amount of effort up in Washington to try to really give a break, as it were, to the regional banks that perceived it as not being fairly treated.
Kelly King: There has been tremendous progress in the last few months. I will say in fairness the current leadership of the OCC, the Federal Reserve, FDIC are doing a fantastic job in trying to look back at what was put into place as a result of the crisis – how much of that was good, how much of that was overreaction, what should be changed. And they are methodically making changes including a nice change yesterday, that is, I say, putting a level playing field back into place so banks are being looked at more reasonably now in terms of the actual risk of the organization.
Bloomberg Anchor: And Kelly finally, I'm very mindful that you're based in North Carolina and we have something called Florence that's got a beeline for North Carolina. Give us a sense anticipating what that might do to your customers and your business itself.
Kelly King: It's potentially going to be extremely devastating. It has the prospects of being worse than we've seen in 50 or 60 years. And recall that just two years ago Hurricane Matthew came through eastern North Carolina and was a tragic event. We still have people living in FEMA trailers. So, this is going to be devastating for our area. Even if the wind speeds are not so bad, the amount of rain deluge is going to just be awful. We're preparing for the worst, hoping for the best, praying for the best. We have always taken disasters very seriously. We have tractor-trailer loads of water and necessities ready to go the minute the storm hits. We will bring in huge amounts of supplies to help our people, our associates, our clients, our communities because this is a big deal. We need the entire country's thoughts and prayers.