M&T Bank Corporation (MTB)

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M&T Bank Corporation (MTB)

Citigroup US Financial Services Conference

March 06, 2013 1:20 pm ET


René F. Jones - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of M & T Bank and Executive Vice President of M & T Bank


Keith Horowitz - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Andrea T. Jao - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division


René F. Jones

Thanks, Keith. We appreciate the introduction. Good afternoon, everyone. So I'm always a fan of coming to the Citi Conference. In addition to Keith, I like the fact that it's at the beginning of the year. And since they've moved it to March, it gives you a little bit of time to actually reflect on the year past. You don't get much time to reflect on the year. But one of the things you'll notice is that it's also given us time to finish -- our Chairman and CEO, Bob Wilmers, writes a message to the shareholders every year. So that was out this morning, and it's out there on the web. And so we're kind of fresh on thinking about what's happened over the past year in 2012, but also what's happened over the past 5 years or so.

So I thought what I'd do is I'd sort of take you through a little bit of that, take you through also kind of how we think about capital allocation. There's a lot of questions that are out there these days about what are you going to do with your dividend policy, when will you be able to do this or that. We tend to think about it very differently. But hopefully, if I kind of take you through it, it gives you some sense of how we might make decisions in the future. And then, obviously, talk about that and our outlook towards the end.

If we sort of start off here with our forward-looking disclaimer, a couple points I would make is that we tend to talk about operating earnings, as well as GAAP earnings. And we include a reconciliation of the 2 in the back, if you're not familiar with that. But generally, our operating earnings are taking out 2 things: amortization of intangibles and merger-related costs of our deals. And we think it gives you a good picture of sort of what the core trends are underlying our results when we're not in sort of an integration mode.

If you look at who we are, you guys I'm sure are very familiar with us. We've been around for 157 years, 1856 is when we started. We've got about $83 billion in assets. When we close the Hudson City deal this year, that will jump up about $100 billion. We've got 15,000 employees, just over 700 branches and 2 million consumer households.

Primarily, though, we're a banker to middle-market customers. As you go through our footprint, we'll talk a bit later about our deposit share, but we have very strong share in each of the communities that we choose to bank in middle market and in particular, in business banking. We are the #1 SBA lender in each of the markets or most of the markets in which we participate in. I think that's important because it tells you about the type of bank we are and what service we produce and providing the communities that we operate in.

We've done a lot of acquisitions, 23 over the last 25 years, 5 of those have been government assisted. But those are things that tend to happen to us because of our operating model and the stability that we've enjoyed over the years.

If you look at our operating model and we talked about this a little bit in our letter, the core of our process is sort of prudent underwriting in local markets and markets that we know. We think that, whether it be M&T or other institutions, when you get away from your home markets, you don't know the customer, you don't have a tie-in to that community. It doesn't necessarily serve you well, and you don't have an advantage in making loans outside of your footprint.

Our products are straightforward. We try to make them uncomplicated. Essentially, what we do is we take deposits, safe-keep them and invest them with entrepreneurs in our community. And we think because our product is so plain vanilla, we generally have a commodity. One of the most important things is to do that in a very efficient way. And to the extent that we can be an efficient operator, maybe have a slight advantage over the industry, we can continue to maintain very, very boring -- a very, very boring profile and stay out of trouble. And what you see in that culture also comes through in our credit profile, which you'll see in a minute.

At the heart of all of that is our people. Bob Wilmers devoted a significant part of his letter this year to sort of our talent, our people, where they came from, how they grew up and how we've sort of maintained that over the time. Not a lot of people talk about that, but it's really core to who we are.

And that is also planted and supported by ownership structure. So we own 18.5% of the shares between our employees, our directors and the management team, and that affects our behavior. So as you see on the slide, we tend not to take care too much about volume of loans. We really do care about the quality of the loans we underwrite in terms of return, and we have a very disciplined approach to allocating our capital, which I'll share with you in a minute.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com