The Only New Bank in America

The club of new startup banks in the U.S. in 2010 has exactly one member. And it doesn’t quite have the bricks-and-mortar look most banks go for. It is Hartie Spence’s Lakeside Bank, which runs its business out of a secondhand double-wide trailer, parked on the lot of a Baptist Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Somehow, the 70-year-old Spence managed to convince regulators he could stand up to the economic crisis and deserved to be federally insured, even as hundreds of banks shut their doors—since January 2008, over 280 smaller banks have been closed. “I’m still thinking it’s my looks that did it,” he said. The FDIC has been notably tight with granting approval over the last year and, as a result has seen even fewer applications than usual. But Spence was not deterred. “You can manage a good bank in a bad economy, particularly when you are at the bottom,” he said.