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Covering banking: Good sources across the beat

October 14, 2011

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This Chase Bank promotional poster is pretty lifelike, but she's not a source. Photo by Flickr user Aranami

Banking is a beat which demands you draw on sources locally, nationally and internationally.   Here are some good ones to get you started:

Good Sources on Failures

  • KBW Inc., parent of investment banking firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., puts out a weekly roundup-style research note with all of the M&A (mergers and acquisitions) and failure announcements in the news. To get onto this list, or to get a specific report when a bank in your area goes under, contact Ashley Bowles at abowles@intermarket.com (Intermarket Communications is an outside PR firm that handles media relations for KBW).
  • Trepp Bank Navigator is another good resource on failures, with quantitative reports about banks that have failed, as they fail. Contact Eric Gerard at Great Ink Communications for information and reports, 212-741-2977 Eric@greatink.com

General Sources: Wall Street

  • The aforementioned KBW is a good source of research and commentary on banks. It also is the keeper of the KBW Bank Index, one of the most widely cited stock indexes for the industry. (Quotes for the index are available on various sites including Yahoo! Finance and Google Finance.)
  • Sell-side analysts can be difficult to peg down for interviews; they’re generally not terribly interested in speaking to local newspaper reporters, at least in my experience. But if there are banks in your area that you regularly cover, it’s worth it, of course, to try to get on the research distribution lists for analysts that follow those institutions.
    All the major research houses – Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Deutsche Banc Securities, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS, etc. – follow the sector. Reporters may have better luck with smaller securities firms in their regions.

General Sources: Academic Resources

  • Consult the experts guides of local universities for finance professors who might be able to comment on banking issues in your area. Law schools also can be good resources, especially on regulatory matters.

Several schools have entire research centers devoted to bank and finance issues. Among them:

  • Boston University’s Morin Center is terrific on bank regulation issue.
  • East Tennessee State University has the ETSU Center for Banking.

General Sources: Other


o For 175 years, American Banker has been the bible of the industry. The website, relaunched in July 2011 with a new design and a new emphasis on breaking news and commentary, has a wealth of information about all the major issues in the industry: M&A, risk management, regulation and the like. Unfortunately, you’ll find that some of the pieces here are behind a pay-wall. However….


o Everything at AmericanBanker.com/Magazine is free to all readers! You won’t find much breaking news here (this website is where stories from our monthly magazine are published) but there’s lots of trend stories and analysis pieces that might help you get a sense of the kinds of conversations taking place in the industry.


o Banking lawyer Kevin Funnell in Frisco, Texas, keeps this site as a personal blog with his own views on a variety of issues affecting the banking industry.


o The new blog of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: CFPB.


o Hedge fund operator Thomas Brown, a prominent Wall Street bank industry analyst in the 1990s, has teamed up with Commerce Bancorp founder Vernon Hill (a legend in the industry) to create a news and commentary site featuring their own views and those of outside contributors. Warning: both may have conflicts when writing about stocks in which they have positions or eventually take positions, etc. But they offer some interesting commentary on a variety of operational and regulatory issues facing banks.

SENSELESS PANIC, by William Isaac

o Former FDIC Chairman Bill Isaac wrote a book (and established a similarly named website) in the wake of the 2008 crisis that examines the crisis through the historical lens of someone who shut down banks during the banking and S&L crises of the 1980s. Some of it gets political; those parts won’t matter as much to you, as a metro daily reporter, as will his explanations of why it makes sense to treat bank creditors gingerly in failure situations.


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