For Bill Cooper, a Much-Deserved Honor

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I entirely agree with—and applaud!—American Banker’s decision this week to name TCF Financial CEO Bill Cooper as its lifetime achievement honoree. I’ve known Bill for many years and am hard-pressed to think of many other bank CEOs who are as innovative and independent-minded as he is. Bill was one of just a handful of bankers, for instance, to recognize early on the value of small-dollar retail deposits. He then built TCF’s business model around gathering them, and in the process transformed the bank into one of the most stable and profitable in the country. After the subprime blowup hit in 2008, Bill returned to TCF after a brief retirement and put in place a strategy that enabled the bank to emerge from the crunch with much less difficulty than many of its similar-sized competitors. All this, and he’s outspoken and entertaining to be around. Oh, and he has the guts to publicly take on regulators when he thinks they’ve gone too far. That’s another trait you don’t find in too many bank CEOs.

Over the course of his career, Bill transformed the old Twin Cities Federal from being the semi-solvent basket case it was back in the 1980s into TCF, one of the most widely admired banks in the industry. Not bad for a guy who put himself through college by working as a beat cop in Detroit back in the 1960s. A smart selection, American Banker—and many congratulations to Bill.

What do you think? Let me know!