Despite banking problems elsewhere, Oklahoma banks solid for now

Sheila Robinson

There’s been a lot in the news lately about the rumored crisis in the banking system over the past few days, primarily because of the closure of IndyMac Federal Savings Bank on Friday in California.

Many recent news stories are misleading because they don’t tell the whole story, according to Roger M. Beverage, president and CEO, Oklahoma Bankers Association.

So what are the facts in Oklahoma?

“The commercial banking industry — the normal and traditional federally insured, federally regulated depository institutions that you deal with in your home town — is safe and sound,” Beverage said. “And as far as your money is concerned, nothing’s safer than money in the bank.”

Oklahoma banks pay for Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation deposit insurance coverage to make sure their customers are protected. That means your savings and checking accounts in an Oklahoma bank is protected up to $100,000, with additional protection for joint accounts and those are set up for some beneficiaries, and $250,000 for a retirement account, according to Beverage.

No one has ever lost a penny of FDIC insured deposits held in community banks in Oklahoma, according to Mark Woodley, vice president, American National Bank. He said people may think this is a huge crisis but it’s just a handful of states and it’s not widespread.

“There has not been one customer that ever lost a penny in an FDIC insured bank in Oklahoma, ever,” Woodley said. “The majority of the problems the banks are having is confined to just in a handful of states and Oklahoma is not one of them. In Oklahoma, our economy is strong. Our banks are highly capitalized and doing well.”

The FDIC is taking care of all insured depositors, according to Keith King, executive vice president and Chief Financial Officer, First National Bank & Trust Co. King said IRA accounts are insured up to $250,000 per depositor per insured bank.

“There are ways people can have up to $800,000 of insured deposits at a bank,” King said. “It’s really how they structure their accounts. If they have concerns, they should talk to their bank about ways they can structure their accounts to continue to be totally FDIC insured if they are not familiar with the financial situation of the bank they are banking at.”

Bryan Royse, manager of Communication Federal Credit Union, said financial institutions as a whole are much more stable today than they were in the early 1980s, when several banks and savings and loans failed. Just as banks are insured by FDIC, credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

“Both government agencies provide the same deposit protection for consumers,” Royse said. “Most people don’t realize that through proper account structuring and the use of IRAs as a savings tool, we can provide federal insurance on their accounts up to almost $500,000. You should visit with a professional from your financial institution who can help you structure your accounts for maximum protection.”

Oklahoma banks are the backbone of the state’s economy, according to Beverage.

“They are the source of its stability and growth, and they exist to help Oklahomans catch their dreams every day,” Beverage said. “The liquidity crisis we’ve been hearing about recently comes from a crisis of confidence and that crisis is sometimes spread by a well-intentioned news media that’s more focused on 30-second sound bites than in detailed analysis of reality.

"For example, the subprime lending crisis was caused by unregulated brokers and Wall Street institutions themselves, sometimes using the title ‘bank,’ and not by regulated, insured banks.”

The Daily Ardmoreite