Not banking on the Main Line image

Posted: July 29, 2014

Frederick "Ted" Peters, 64, chairman, president, and chief executive of Bryn Mawr Bank Corp., has made an entire career based on his success in Philadelphia's western suburbs.

He started and sold two banks, National Bank of the Main Line and First Main Line Bank.

These days, he leads a bank headquartered in Bryn Mawr, the heart of the Main Line.

But Peters, of Villanova, who grew up in Haverford on the Main Line, graduated from the Haverford School, and has lived on the Main Line most of his life, isn't a fan of the Main Line brand.

Question: Why not?

Answer: Main Line to me has a little bit of snobbery and elitism to it. The first day I got here [in 2001], I took the words Main Line out of every ad, out of everything. We're a community bank serving the western suburbs.

Q: But doesn't the Main Line name have a certain cachet?

A: Good question, but I think the negatives outweigh the positive.

Q: Well, what about Bryn Mawr? How much more Main Line can you get?

A: I think the Bryn Mawr Trust name is a very good name - a name we can take anywhere.

Q: At the end of the year, you are stepping down from executive responsibilities at the bank, although you'll remain a board member. What's next?

A: I'm starting up a bank fund. It's going to be a hedge fund that invests in community bank stocks.

Q: What's your theory?

A: We're in an industry that has seen a lot of consolidation because of the low [interest] rate environment, squeezing banks. We're seeing increased regulatory pressure on banks. Every year it gets worse.

Q: And so?

A: If you buy stocks [in a bank] that is taken over, the increase in its [share] price the very first day is anywhere between 25 to 75 percent.

Q: So the trick is picking banks that are going to be sold. How do you do that?

A: There are certain characteristics: The CEO is 62 [or older]. There's a large family position that needs liquidity. They've been under a regulatory order, which is a very good thing if you want to buy a bank that might be taken over. Those banks have management fatigue because they are getting beat over the head all the time.

Q: Do you have a philosophy on compensation?

A: I think it's a major problem in this country, the income inequality we have. I firmly believe we should raise the minimum wage immediately. If someone works 40 hours a week, they should earn a living wage. It's absurd what some CEOs are making. You have CEOs who fail and they walk away with these huge packages.

Q: You started your first bank in your basement. Now you have a corner office and a private bathroom. Why do you have a poster from the movie Animal House hanging in there?

A: It's one of my favorite movies. I went to college in the Peace, Love, Woodstock era. Those people that made the movie were all in the Peace, Love, Woodstock era as well. It's just a great irreverent movie.

Q: It's in a spot where you see it often. Does it remind you of anything in your work?

A: Not really. Maybe, just enjoy life and don't take everything too seriously.


Title: Chairman, chief executive, president of Bryn Mawr Trust Corp.

Home: Villanova.

Family: Wife, Anne; children, Paige Peters LeGrand, 35; Patricia Peters, 33; Mary Peters McAndrew, 31; Nancy Peters Farren, 29.

Diplomas: Haverford School, Amherst College.

First career: Coached lacrosse and taught 7th grade social studies at the Haverford School.

Banking resumé: Worked at Philadelphia National Bank, Hamilton Bank, Industrial Valley Bank before starting and selling two banks.

In the backyard: Gardening, growing mega-pumpkins, cudgel-size zucchini, many tomato varieties.


Where: Bryn Mawr.

Main subsidiary: Bryn Mawr Trust Co.

Branches: 19.

Employees: 425.

Founded: 1889

Nasdaq ticker: BMTC.

Friday's close: $29.68 per share, up 30 cents.

Financials: $2.1 billion in banking assets; $7.6 billion of wealth assets under management.

Net income: $24.4 million in 2013, up from $21.1 million in 2012.


Bryn Mawr Bank's Ted Peters on why big banks are bad.

Interview questions and answers have been edited for space.



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