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Profinium feels like dancing

August 8, 2012
Meg Alexander - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - "BEEP!" And without further warning, phones throughout Profinium Financial are blasting a salsa-style tune, literally intended to get people on their feet and moving to the music.

"We have to dance a little," said Profinium CEO Marques Doppler, excusing himself as he jumps up out of his chair to briefly do a twist-like dance move before getting back to the business at hand, an interview with the Sentinel.

Apparently these brief dance intervals happen anytime someone decides to "Kasasa" their account at Profinium. Kasasa, in case you haven't heard of it, is a way to earn interest on your checking account and avoid ATM fees.

However, this particular interview with Profinium was not about Kasasa, or dancing. Instead, it pertained to the Federal Reserve Board ending enforcement actions implemented in July 2009 against Profinium Financial Holdings in Fairmont, and Profinium Financial in Truman - much more serious stuff than bank employees taking boogie breaks. And yet, the two are strangely related.

"We have a fabulous story to tell. I love telling it. It's a people story; it's an overcoming of obstacles story," said Doppler, whose tenure with Profinium began in 2009, when he was hired as CEO. "And really what it's about is the written agreement identified challenges that the bank had, and we pulled together with tremendous focus and commitment and energy and enthusiasm and just generated incredible results to overcome the challenges of the situation we found ourselves in. We are focused on the future."

In 2009, after the Federal Reserve examined Profinium's books, the government called on the bank to strengthen its board of directors' oversight; update credit risk management practices; revise loan policies and enhance loan reviews; charge off assets classified as losses; provide a plan to maintain sufficient capital; improve the bank's earnings; and bolster its liquidity.

"Obviously there were some challenging times the past three years," Doppler said. "We found ways to celebrate the little wins, the little successes, which turned into big successes and big achievements, and we worked very closely and embraced the relationship with our regulators, which is not necessarily normal in those types of situations."

Profinium obviously wasn't alone in its financial troubles. From the micro to the macro, people and businesses across the nation - and the world - have struggled with the economic downturn.

"In an economy where there's little liquidity, there's not a lot of people buying real estate, so as you work through challenged credit, sometimes the last resort is to take the collateral back, so we ended up with some real estate. The vast majority of that is gone and sold," Doppler said.

And as he repeatedly stressed, Profinium is moving forward.

"We are growing. We're very much focused on establishing new relationships, putting new loans out in the community. We've had a very good year the last couple years and 2012 is looking tremendous," Doppler said. "We've grown to an overall enterprise-wide size of over $375 million."

And that just might be something worth dancing about.

"I was provided the opportunity to come in and work with this incredible group of people to create a foundation to allow us to continue to bring our vision to life. We got that accomplished," said Doppler. "The things that we got a little offtrack on prior to '09, we stopped doing. We implemented the policies and procedures and systems and got the people in the right seats on the bus and committed to a culture of caring and nurturing each other and our clients and our communities."

That's why he takes exception when small banking operations like Profinium are compared to bigwigs in Wall Street.

"When people talk bad about banks, the challenges of the financial crisis were not caused by community banks. They were caused by a very few handful of banks that got exceptionally greedy," he said. "When you think about the degree of commitment and impact the local community banks in Fairmont and the surrounding area have, I couldn't be prouder to be a part of it. We have great, strong banks in this area."



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