Vero Beach got another feather in its cap in last month when Marine Bank & Trust president and CEO Bill Penney was elected chairman of the Florida Bankers Association.
It is not a ceremonial position.
As chairman he will be the face and voice of one of Florida’s oldest and most powerful trade associations, traveling to Tallahassee and Washington D.C. frequently to lobby for regulations and legislation favorable to Florida banks.
“I will be back in Washington next week,” Penney told Vero Beach 32963, adding that he will be lobbying against proposed regulations that would require publicly-traded banks to somehow assess and then report the climate impact of their customers’ businesses.
Marine Bank is not publicly traded so the regulations, if enacted, would not affect it, but the Florida banking industry does not think the rules make sense.
He’ll also lobby for tax law reform to require large credit unions with assets over $1 billion to pay taxes the same as banks do.
Currently, all federal credit unions are exempt from federal taxes, and bankers believe that gives big credit unions an unfair business advantage.
Founded in 1888, the Florida Bankers Association includes hundreds of small, medium and large banks that hold 98 percent of all deposits in the state.
Penney said his new gig, which is a notable honor, will take up 10 to 15 percent of his time, and that his board and his staff at Marine Bank have been “very supportive” of him taking on the statewide leadership role.
“It puts us at the forefront of rule-making and legislation and will result in relationships that can be valuable to the bank and Vero Beach,” Penney said.
“Our Chairs take time out of their busy schedules to lead the fight for our industry in Washington and Tallahassee,” said FBA President and CEO Alex Sanchez. “Bill is an experienced banker who is passionate about speaking out for our industry. His knowledge and leadership will make him a powerful advocate for bankers throughout Florida.”
Under Penney’s leadership, Marine Bank weathered the Great Recession and housing downturn and has thrived in recent years, in good times and bad, with assets more than doubling in the past two and a half years, from $287 million on Jan. 1, 2020, to $593 million today.
In the summer of 2020, during the early, scary days of the pandemic, Marine Bank rode to the community’s rescue, securing nearly $100 million in PPP loans for local businesses.
While larger banks fumbled with the emergency federal program’s new and ever-changing loan regulations, Penney and his associates pulled out all the stops, shifting most employees to PPP loan processing and working 16-hour days to assist Vero businesses.
“In the end, we originated 1,245 loans for $94 million that saved thousands of local jobs,” Penney said.
That phenomenal performance under intense time pressure as businesses across the country scrambled for a limited amount of money won Marine Bank & Trust many new customers and earned the bank an average of 2 percent of the loan amounts in origination fees.
In 2021, the bank opened a new, 5,000-square-foot operations center in Vero Beach and expanded into St. Lucie County with a commercial and residential lending office in Port St. Lucie. Growth continued this month when Marine debuted a full-service branch in a historical building in downtown Fort Pierce.
With the Fort Pierce branch, Marine has five full-service branches, plus the lending office, serving St. Lucie, Indian River and Brevard counties. It is the only independent community bank headquartered in Vero Beach.
Penney has a distinguished record of local civic and business leadership, serving previously as chair of the Indian River Chamber of Commerce, the Indian River Economic Development Council and the United Way of Indian River County. He’s currently vice–chair of the Alzheimer & Parkinson Association of Indian River County.
“The past few years were challenging for our local communities,” said Penney. “But our industry rose to the occasion to find solutions. At Marine Bank, the connection to our customers is stronger as a result and our team has an even greater commitment to helping businesses grow and add jobs and helping people achieve the dream of home ownership.”