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Central Bank of St. Louis' new president on what's working — and what's worrisome — in the St. Louis economy

Dan Stephen talks about his plans for the bank and his view on the St. Louis market
Credit: SLBJ
Dan Stephen of Central Bank of St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — Dan Stephen, who last month was named Central Bank of St. Louis' first new president in 30 years, outlined his plans for the bank, financial goals and his view of the St. Louis market.

Stephen, who succeeded Rick Bagy, had been chief credit officer and chief risk officer for Central Bancompany, the bank's holding company, since 2019. Before that, he was chief credit officer and head of commercial lending at Central Bank of St. Louis for more than 30 years.

What are your financial goals? We're expecting profitability to taper off a bit this year. The mortgage business was on fire in 2020, with pre-tax profit up $14 million compared with 2019. We expect that to be about $7 million lower this year because so many have already refinanced. Our areas of emphasis will be mortgages for as long as the party lasts, PPP lending and wealth management and retirement planning. With the significant drop in interest rates, more people are investing in the market.

What is Central Bank's sweet spot? Privately held companies. We don't go after Emerson or Anheuser-Busch. Our bank is a little more commercial than many banks in St. Louis. We'd like to improve our consumer business. On the deposit side, our financial strength is an asset. We're well capitalized. Our parent company, Central Bancompany, is the bank for the state of Missouri. So when you get a state refund check, it's drawn on our bank. We can handle some pretty large deposits. On the loan side, $1 million to $30 million loans are 80% of our business.

What is St. Louis’ biggest asset from a banking perspective? By nature, St. Louis is a conservative city and Missouri is a conservative state. We do business with well-capitalized companies with sound management and deals with good fundamentals. In addition, the market is diversified, and for lending, that helps.

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