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August 2011
Unique Approach: High-tech, High-touch
By John S. Kreighbaum

     When Carolina Premier Bank opened its doors a little over three years ago, no one imagined the financial turmoil that would affect local, national and global economies and the resultant impact of regulatory reform and, more importantly, the survivability of community banking…and a bank like ours.

     For many who trade in securities of financial institutions, for example, the year 2008 is seared in the consciousness with the fierceness of a cattle brand. Investors who celebrated the New Year with robust portfolios found themselves 12 months later considerably diminished.

     Along the way many well-known institutions simply disappeared from the landscape. The Federal Housing Finance Agency put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into government conservatorship and finally short selling in all financial stocks to try and slow the free-fall was banned.

     In spite of these challenges, Carolina Premier Bank was putting a uniquely new operating culture into practice. Fast forward, this operating culture has not only survived but prospered during the most challenging times in banking history.

     I don’t have to tell you that times have changed in the banking sector, in the national economy and in Charlotte. You know from the headlines that Charlotte has the highest unemployment and worst metropolitan real estate market in the state.

     Notwithstanding these and other considerations, it is our belief that a bright window of opportunity exists for well-positioned bank holding companies like our recently approved Premara Financial, Inc.

     There are strong predictions of massive consolidations in our industry. Some say as many as 4,000 banks will consolidate over the next five years...that’s almost half of the banks now.

     From our early beginnings, I have advanced the firm position that we would not embrace a follow-the-leader operating mentality, nor plagiarize one of the canned versions of strategic plans that are out there, nor seek unproductive long-term value actions such as following the antiquated mentality of building branches that will become unnecessary burdens as technological integration continues to be embraced by customers.

     And most importantly, our directors have worked prudently through the process of understanding the state of our market today, given considerable thought to where the bank should be strategically, and defined it clearly through a formalized detailed plan that will take us through the coming years.

     Since opening, our board has not deviated from our disciplined plan. Rather, they have tightened our procedures to make Carolina Premier Bank a profitable going concern with a sterling reputation, scalable and strategically positioned with strategy and flexibility.

     We have something that many banks don’t have. We have a unique approach to banking, the high-tech, high-touch approach that combines the latest in technology with old-fashioned customer and community service.

We have tweaked and refined this approach, and road-tested it with Carolina Premier Bank. Our method of running a bank works and we have the results to prove it.

 

So here is where we are today:

• We have a bank unlike anything in this or any other community.

• We are positioned for both organic and acquisition-strategic growth.

• We have a bold plan for continuing our unique and successful way of doing business.

 

     Our experience over the last three to four years has highlighted the need to build a bank which has both geographic and customer diversification in order to build a franchise which is sustainable in volatile markets and to achieve a high valuation for the benefit of shareholders.

 

President and CEO of Carolina Premier Bank and Premara Financial, Inc.
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