OCC: Southern Banks Continue to See Faster Loan Growth

The OCC reported today that the loan growth rate continued to accelerate in the nine-state Southern District, which spans from Texas to Georgia, growing to 8 percent in 2014 from 4 percent in 2013. Loan growth was highest in the oil patch areas of Texas and Louisiana with 11 percent and 9 percent growth, respectively. Florida, which has benefited from a surge of retirees, good weather and a low-tax environment, saw 8 percent loan growth.

Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma also saw strong loan growth. Banks in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee saw loan growth for the first time in several years.

Despite the decline in oil prices this year, the OCC said that southern banks and thrifts are well-positioned. “A large majority of borrowers were in satisfactory financial condition at the end of 2014 because they had strengthened their financial positions when oil prices were higher,” said OCC Deputy Comptroller Gil Barker. “The OCC is closely monitoring oil price changes and expects national banks and federal savings associations with direct and indirect exposure to frequently evaluate and stress test portfolios.”

The OCC said that about 91 percent of banks and thrifts in the district had a composite rating of 1 or 2, indicating financial health, and the number of problem institutions fell to 43 at year’s end, down from 71 in 2013.