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In Memoriam: Walter G. Moeling, IV, 1943-2019

It is with a very heavy heart that I write to report that our longtime friend and retired Partner, Walt Moeling, passed away peacefully on Monday night. Walt was at home and surrounded by family, including his wife Nell who has become a friend to many throughout the firm. Nell was Walt’s lifelong best friend and true companion, and is almost as well-known as Walt within the banking community in the Southeast for always being by his side and helping to grow his practice. Walt was important to our group, to the firm and to every person whose path he crossed. He was an incredible mentor to many, including our entire banking team.

Walt spent his entire legal career with our firm, starting out in the late 1960s with Powell Goldstein, an Atlanta-based firm that merged with Bryan Cave in 2009. In Walt’s near 50 years of active practice, he represented banks, thrifts, insurance companies and securities firms nationwide. In recent years he was nicknamed “the Godfather of Banking in the South” by a very prominent banking industry commentator.

Walt was widely recognized for his accomplishments as a leader in the legal field and banking industry and appeared in Who’s Who in America, in the South; American Law; Business and Finance; and as one of America’s Leading Business Lawyers by Chambers and Partners.

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Storytelling by Walt

Storytelling by Walt

October 5, 2017

Authored by: Robert Klingler

As Jonathan and I mentioned on our podcast on succession planning a few weeks ago, our patriarch and founding father, Walt Moeling, formally retired at the end of 2016.  However, his knowledge and influence continue to permeate almost everything we do (and he still has the same office down the hall).  One of the ways that influence can be seen continues to be in our use of stories originally told to us by Walt.  Of course, his storytelling ability has been noticed, including by the press. Several years ago, as part of our succession planning, we began chronicling some of those stories.  What follows is what I wrote two years ago…

In early 2010, our clients were dropping like flies, with one or two clients failing every Friday. Even as one client entered receivership, we were each likely working with three or four others that were on the same path. (Each was a horror movie, and we knew exactly how it would play out, even if our clients held out optimism each time that, for whatever reason, their story would play out differently.)

Walt and I were on the phone with one such client who had just passed the 2% leverage ratio threshold, and was in discussions on next steps.  The executives were worried about how their employees would handle the receivership. Walt, as usual, slipped into a story about another (former) client that had been a client for years. Whenever Walt called, the president’s administrative assistant, Nancy, would answer the phone and chat with Walt before tracking down the bank’s president. Walt shared how he had listened as Nancy became increasingly depressed as the bank’s condition had deteriorated.

In his best Southern belle, falsetto, voice, Walt would demonstrate the decreasing pep in Nancy’s voice. From an upbeat “Good Morning, Walt!” to more and more depressing “Oh, Walt, things are hard, but we’re trying.” In the weeks leading up to that client’s receivership, Walt himself became increasingly saddened by Nancy’s stress. Calls now usually started “Oh, Walter, things are rough.

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Establishing a Sustainable Sales Culture

the-bank-accountWalt Moeling joined us on March 29th for the latest episode of The Bank Account with a lively discussion of bank sales tactics.  In this regulatory environment, banks need to balance growth goals with expectations for scrutiny of their sales tactics.  Regulators, investors, the press and consumers are all paying more attention to bank sales tactics.

While none of us hopes to be asked whether we “want fries with that?” as we conduct business with a bank teller, looking out for potential bank products that could benefit the bank’s customers presents an opportunity for both the bank and the customer to be better off.

You can also follow us on Twitter with Walt (kind of) at @MoelingW, Jonathan at @HightowerBanks, and me at @RobertKlingler.

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Walt Moeling Always Has a Story

The February/March 2017 edition of Banking Exchange contains a lengthy interview between Bank Exchange’s Executive Editor, Steve Cocheo, and our own Walt Moeling.  Framed in the context of seven questions asked of Walt, the interview does a great job illustrating Walt’s use of stories to prove a point.

Talking to banking attorney Walter Moeling about an organization that forbade talk about mergers and acquisitions—because it may make folks unhappy—leads to his gentle scoff: “There’s nobody involved in banking who is not interested in mergers.”

And then, in typical Moeling fashion, a short point brings him to a story. Walt Moeling always has a story—nearly always with a point or moral for the listener to let sink in.

“I was called upon to do a board session, a strategic planning meeting. I told the CEO I was going to talk about mergers. ‘Oh, you don’t need to do that,’ he told me. ‘My board isn’t interested in mergers.’

“I told the CEO, ‘If I’m going to talk about strategy, I’m going to talk about M&A. You can’t plan a strategy without knowing where you are heading.’”

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Walt Moeling Joins The Bank Account

Walt Moeling Joins The Bank Account

December 28, 2016

Authored by: Robert Klingler

the-bank-accountJonathan and I were joined by the godfather of banking law, our Senior Partner, Walt Moeling for Episode 7 of The Bank Account.

Enjoy Walt’s thoughts on where the banking industry is headed in 2017, what he sees as the biggest concerns today, what one regulatory change he would make if given carte blanche power to improve the system, and a prediction on the number of community banks in the future.

For nearly 50 years, Moeling has been with Bryan Cave and its predecessor firm in Atlanta, Powell Goldstein. Moeling has counseled financial institutions on corporate governance matters, operational and regulatory issues, capital and acquisition strategies, board disputes and dissident shareholders, as well as other strategic decisions.

Moeling has served on the board of the Georgia Bankers Association (GBA) for many years and occupied the role of GBA’s general counsel. He has also been appointed as a state deputy attorney general in Georgia and neighboring Alabama over the course of his career to deal with particularly complex banking matters.

Please click to subscribe to the feed on iTunes, Android, Email or MyCast. It is also now available in the iTunes and Google Play searchable podcast directories.

You can also follow-us on Twitter for updates between podcast episodes @RobertKlingler and @hightowerbanks.

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Walt Moeling Selected as Lifetime Achiever

Atlanta Senior Counsel Walter Moeling has been selected as a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient by The Fulton County Daily Report. Moeling received the honor for his considerable contributions to the legal profession in Georgia.

For nearly 50 years, Moeling has been with Bryan Cave and its predecessor firm in Atlanta, Powell Goldstein. Moeling has counseled financial institutions on corporate governance matters, operational and regulatory issues, capital and acquisition strategies, board disputes and dissident shareholders, as well as other strategic decisions.

He has been recognized by Who’s Who in America. He has been ranked since 1998 in Best Lawyers, including as Best Lawyers’ 2015 Atlanta Financial Services Regulation Law “Lawyer of the Year” and as one of the top 10 lawyers in the state. He also has been featured annually in Chambers USA since 2003.

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Partners McAlpin and Moeling Provide Board Advice to ABA

Jim McAlpin and Walt Moeling recently sat down with the American Bankers Association to address bank board practices, which formed the basis for an article in the ABA’s Directors and Trustees Digest for March 2015.

Some of the best practice recommendations were:

  • fostering a meaningful agenda;
  • making the committees work is the foundation of the board’s oversight role;
  • use directors in the examination process; and
  • make use of special-purpose board meetings.

The complete article is available here.

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Media Mentions – August 1, 2014

With attorneys and staff worldwide, Bryan Cave attorneys are often quoted in the news.  Recent mentions of Financial Institutions group attorneys include:

Jerry Blanchard in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta Partner Jerry Blanchard was quoted July 18 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on reasons behind the shrinking number of banks in Georgia. The state, which led the nation in bank failures stemming from the real estate bust, has seen an increase in the number of banks being bought up at a rate of about one a month as healthy banks grow through the acquisition of other healthy banks. Blanchard said the question on many bankers’ minds is, “Can you survive the recovery? It’s hard to make money.” Click here to read the full article.

Rob Klingler in American Banker

Atlanta Partner Robert Klingler was quoted July 1 by American Banker concerning the trend among trust-preferred creditors of telling deadbeat banks that they must negotiate repayment or be forced into liquidation. Trapeza Capital Management filed legal documents recently to force FMB Bancshares in Lakeland, Ga., into involuntary bankruptcy. Trapeza, which manages a collateralized-debt obligation containing FMB’s trust-preferred securities, said in its filing that it is owed $13.6 million in unpaid debt and interest. FMB is the second lender to face involuntary bankruptcy over unpaid trust-preferred dividends. “Involuntary bankruptcies send a clear signal that doing nothing does not appear to be a good strategy,” Klingler said. “When you’re in default and tell your creditors you can’t do anything, you’re asking for an involuntary bankruptcy.”

Walt Moeling in SNL Financial

Atlanta attorney Walt Moeling was quoted July 10 by SNL Financial regarding the increase in bank M&A in Georgia this year. These recent transactions are simply logical, said Moeling, who noted that acquirers today have excess capital and outstanding commitments to put those funds to work, and they often are looking to rationalize fragmented franchises. Moeling agreed buyers are becoming more assertive and attributed some of the increased confidence to the fact that potential sellers are sitting on firmer ground. “They’re picking up a much smaller amount of problem assets and so there is a willingness to be a little more aggressive in doing acquisitions and again that’s only logical,” he said.

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Media Mentions – June 6, 2014

With attorneys and staff worldwide, Bryan Cave attorneys are often quoted in the news.  Recent mentions of Financial Institutions group attorneys include:

Walt Moeling in American Banker

Walt Moeling was quoted May 8 by American Banker concerning an uptick in interest from outside investors in the Florida banking industry.  A number of banks in the Midwest and elsewhere poured money and resources into Florida a decade ago, only to absorb large losses when the housing market collapsed.  “That was an interesting phenomenon,” Moeling said.  “The theory is that Florida has good deposits and is a good growth market . . . But those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  The truth of the matter is it is very hard to be successful in a totally different market where you don’t have a lot of experience.”

Judith Rinearson and John ReVeal in Pay Magazine

Judith Rinearson and John ReVeal authored an article for the spring edition of PayBefore’s Pay Magazine  concerning the importance of crafting agreements between banks and their third-party vendors that will withstand the scrutiny of regulators.  “Recent regulatory publications, examinations and enforcement actions suggest that the standards and expectations by which regulators evaluate banks’ third-party relationships now are significantly more exacting,” they wrote.  “They’re digging deeper on how banks select their third-party vendors, and the scope of their review is extending to more and more vendors. This increased focus makes it critically important for banks and their partners to get their relationships right from the start by setting their own appropriate expectations and establishing standards for oversight, access and follow through.  And, the contract is the key.  Click here to read their full article.

Margo Strahlberg in Paybefore News

Margo Hirsch Strahlberg was quoted April 29 by Paybefore News regarding a qui tam action involving the state of Delaware relating to claims that nearly two dozen well-known retailers avoided escheating unused gift card balances to the state through the use of special purpose entities organized in other states. Delaware law enables the state to collect unclaimed property, including gift card funds that have gone unused after five years, from companies incorporated in the state. Strahlberg said Delaware’s pursuit of legal action in this case doesn’t mean other states will follow the strategy of seeking court intervention. “The states will still continue to pursue legislation in their attempt to grab at unclaimed funds,” she told the publication. “Delaware always has been known as an aggressive state with respect to unclaimed property, so its willingness to rely on the courts comes as no surprise.”

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The Way Forward for Banking: An Interview with Walt Moeling

Walt Moeling recently sat down with Donna Fay, the Director of Examinations for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, to discuss the future of community banking in connection with the Federal Reserve’s 2014 Banking Outlook Conference.

As noted by the disclaimer at the beginning of the video, Walt’s views unfortunately don’t necessarily represent the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. However, we can be hopeful that the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta continues to be open to our point of view.

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