15 Minutes With … Jim Barlow

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Jim Barlow on community banking in Louisiana

President and CEO
of the $300 Million-Asset
Home Federal Bank in Shreveport, La.

IB: Home Federal Bank celebrated its 90th anniversary this year. How did the bank celebrate?

Barlow: We held a customer appreciation day this past April at our newly renovated commercial lending offices in southeast Shreveport. More than 300 members of the community came out to help us celebrate.
We fried some catfish, raffled off some giveaways and held an open house. It was a great time!

IB: Tell us something distinctive about Home Federal Bank.

Barlow: Home Federal Bank is actually a publically traded company. We converted from a mutual holding company to a publically traded corporation listed on the NASDAQ in December of 2010 [NASDAQ: HFBL]. We held an initial public offering in December of 2010 and raised over $20 million. Our stock has doubled in price since the IPO, and we have about 500 local shareholders.

IB: What should community banks be preparing for over the next few years?

Barlow: We’ll definitely need to continue to watch out for consolidation throughout the industry. The other item that most community bankers will have to deal with is a rising-rate environment. Whether their banks have asset-sensitive or liability-sensitive balance sheets, community bank boards and presidents will need to be prepared.

IB: What do you enjoy most about being a community banker?

Barlow: Every day I can come in and make decisions that directly affect my customers. I can go down the hall and meet with my employees whether they’re involved with commercial, retail or mortgage, and we can make decisions on the fly that help our customers succeed.
That without a doubt is the best thing about this job.

IB: How did you get into community banking?

Barlow: I actually got into banking completely by accident. I wanted to earn some spending money while I was in college, so I applied to work part-time at a small community bank. I never had any intention of making it my career. I really went to school with the idea that I’d become an attorney. But once I started, I couldn’t give it up.

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