Heritage Bank’s president and chief executive, Brian Vance, was among 12 community bankers who met and had an hourlong discussion Tuesday with Tim Geithner, the U.S. Treasury secretary.
Geithner was invited by Gov. Chris Gregoire and met the governor and other community bankers at the Port of Tacoma, Vance said. After a short introduction, Geithner turned his attention to the bankers, addressing them one by one and asking their thoughts on banking and the economy, Vance said.
During his few minutes with Geithner, Vance told him it’s important the federal government distinguish between community banks and Wall Street banks and not paint them with the same brush. Although community banks had little to do with the overall downturn in the U.S. economy, they have suffered as a result of the mess on Wall Street, Vance said. He also told Geithner that community banks do not need more regulation, unlike some of the larger Wall Street banks.
“Community banking is a very simple business model, and we don’t need to complicate it,” Vance said. “I got a good sense that he (Geithner) understands the role of community banking.”
He said Geithner seemed open, listened well and took notes, and his aides took notes.
“I was honored to be included,” Vance said.
Geithner was part of the policy team under former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson when the government created the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Vance said he thinks it was the “right program at the right time” and was pleased to see that Geithner hasn’t tried to distance himself from the program and remains committed to it. The U.S. Treasury invested $24 million into Heritage Financial, the parent company of Heritage Bank, in 2008.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/bizblog