About Us
Welcome to Bankstocks.com, the premier free web site for news and commentary about the financial services industry. Whether you're an industry insider, investor, or outside observer, the articles you read here are designed to enhance your understanding of the financial services business and the issues facing it.

Bankstocks.com is operated by Hill & Brown Publishing, LLC, which is owned by two luminaries of the financial services business: Thomas K. Brown and Vernon W. Hill II.

Thomas K. Brown Thomas K. Brown has followed the banking industry for many years. He was the top-ranked banking analyst on Wall Street for ten years in the 1990s, and later ran the North American financial services group at Tiger Management in New York. Brown is widely seen as a banking-industry thought leader both, on Wall Street and in the banking industry itself, and is frequently asked to make presentations to industry groups, company managements, and financial services company boards of directors. He currently runs a hedge fund that invests solely in financial services companies.

Vernon W. Hill II Vernon W. Hill II is the founder and former CEO of Commerce Bancorp, co-founder of Commerce Bank/Harrisburg (soon to be Metro Bank, Philadelphia), and chairman and founder of Hill-Townsend Capital, LLC of Chevy Chase, Maryland. Over the course of Hill's banking career, he revolutionized the retail banking business with innovations such as extended and weekend branch hours and free coin counting. Hill opened Commerce in 1973 with a single branch. When the company was sold 35 years later, it had grown (almost entirely organically) to 470 branches and was worth $8 billion. Hill currently operates an investment fund that invests in financial services companies.

Both Tom and Vernon provide regular commentary on Bankstocks.com, as do our regular expert contributors. Outside experts often write for the site, as well. 

Conflicts We Face and How We Resolve Them

As noted, both our chairmen operate investment firms that invest in financial services companies. Bankstocks.com is a separate entity from either of those investment firms. As you might imagine, however, there can be tensions between what we post on this site and how our chairmen manage their firms’ investment portfolios. You should be aware of that when you read this site. We have put in place a number of policies and procedures to minimize the conflicts between our Bankstocks.com postings and the investment advisers’ trading. In general, our strong bias toward is to resolve these tensions in favor of our chairmen’s fund investors. Highlights of our policies and procedures include:

  • Our chairmen’s firms won’t trade in a stock immediately before, and immediately after, we post a piece about it on the site.  To keep from benefiting from any volatility that our postings might create, our chairmen’s firms won’t trade a stock for a full trading day before, and a full trading day after, we write about that stock on the site. For instance, if we post a piece on a company before the market opening, the firms will not have traded the stock during the entire prior trading session, and they will not trade the stock in the entire trading session that will occur that day. If we post a piece on a company in the middle of a trading session, the firms will not have traded that stock during the entire prior trading session, nor will they trade it during the current trading session, or the next day’s entire trading session. 
  • If we change our mind about a company, we won’t necessarily post a story to say so. Please take the disclaimers we post on this site seriously. For instance, the paragraph at the top of the search page, that says that we may have changed our minds about the company in question since the original posting, really is true. The reason we don’t post updates is simple: we’re time constrained, and do not believe that providing follow-ups to past articles is the best use of a scarce resource. Even so, like all other investors, we change our minds about companies from time to time.
  • There are times when one or both of our chairmen’s firms might be sellers of a stock that we say good things about. We believe every word we post on Bankstocks.com. But there are other factors besides a company’s fundamental outlook that determine whether our chairmen’s firms buy or sell the stock in that company. For instance, there might be limits to the size of the positions the firms can take in a stock. That means that if one of the firms has a maximum-sized position in a stock that is rising faster than its portfolio overall, the firm will have to sell that stock to keep the position below its limit—even though the firm is so bullish on the stock that it literally owns as much as it can.

    Here’s another example: suppose one of the firms’ fund managers decides to cut his portfolio’s overall equity exposure. One way he might do that would be to sell every stock in his portfolio in equal proportion—even the ones his most bullish on. (Such broad portfolio moves, and other such moves, would still be subject to the near-term trading restrictions, described above, that the firms impose on themselves when we post articles on individual companies.)

    The bottom line: there may be times (although it doesn’t happen often) where our chairmen’s firms’ portfolio actions might literally be counter to what we say on the site. We disclose this in our disclaimers, of course. The reason we mention it now is so that you know we really mean it.
  • Sometimes we’ll post positive articles about companies our chairmen’s firms don’t own.< There are a number of reasons that the firms won’t own stock in companies we like a lot. Valuation, for instance. There’s a difference between a company and its stock, after all.  Thus there may be plenty of times that we might profile a company with a great strategy, led by a brilliant management, that is absolutely shooting the lights out—whose stock simply seems too rich for our chairmen’s firms to want to invest in. That doesn’t mean, though, that the company isn’t as terrific as we say it is.
  • Some of the companies we write about might be investors in funds managed by our chairmen’s firms. Several of the firms’ fund investors are banks, bank holding companies, and non-bank financial services companies. As a matter of policy, our chairmen’s firms do not disclose the names of their fund investors. Thus, there may be an occasion where we post an article about a corporate fund investor—and not disclose that fact.

We know we have a responsibility to our readers, just as our chairmen’s firms have responsibilities to their fund investors. We work hard to manage those responsibilities carefully—which is one reason we’re explaining all this to you now. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail us.

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Our Expert Regular Contributors

Matthew Stichnoth Matthew Stichnoth is the Editor-In-Chief of Bankstocks.com. In addition, he's a member of Tom Brown’s investment firm’s Portfolio Team. Prior to joining Bankstocks.com in June of 2001, Matt ran a special-topics writing group at Goldman Sachs' research department in New York. Before that, he was a staff writer and columnist in Bloomberg’s magazine group. Matt also spent several years writing and editing his own stock market newsletter. Before that, he ran the research desk at Kidder Peabody in New York. Matt has a BA from Vanderbilt University.

Gary Townsend Gary Townsend is a banking industry analyst, and a principal of Hill-Townsend Capital, LLC, an investment firm that specializes in financial services companies. Prior to starting Hill-Townsend, Gary was a top-ranked analyst at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Capital Markets, Inc. He also spent 15 years as a U.S. government banking regulator.

John Tschohl John Tschohl, president of Service Quality Institute, has been called the “guru of customer service” by Time and Entrepreneur magazines. For 28 years, he has helped organizations drive a service culture through his state-of-the-art research and his ability to emotionally communicate the power of a compelling service strategy.  As a service strategist, John shows firms how to crush the competition, rapidly build market share, and build a legendary brand.  He is the author of five best-selling books, including Loyal for Life: How to take Unhappy Customers from Hell to Heaven in 60 Seconds or Less and
Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service the bible for organizations who want to learn how and why to implement a service strategy. John’s technology and books have appeared in 11 languages, in over 40 countries.
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     Bankstocks.com is a public web site operated by individuals who also operate investment advisory firms that serve as investment advisers to hedge funds (the "Firms"). Some articles are authored by employees of the Firms while others are authored by third parties. Under no circumstances does any article posted on Bankstocks.com represent a recommendation to buy or sell a security. This article is intended to provide insight into the financial services industry and is not a solicitation of any kind. The Firms do not vouch for the accuracy of any information contained in any article posted herein and the views expressed in any article herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Firms. The Firms buy and sell securities on behalf of their fund investors and may do so, before and after any particular article herein is published, with respect to the securities discussed in any article posted herein. The Firms’ appraisal of a company's prospects is only one factor that affects the Firms’ decision whether to buy or sell shares in that company. Other factors might include, but are not limited to, the presence of mandatory limits on individual positions, decisions regarding portfolio exposures, and general market conditions, and liquidity needs. As such, there may not always be consistency between the views expressed in this article and the Firms’ trading on behalf of their fund investors. There may be conflicts between the content posted on Bankstocks.com and the interests of the Firms. For an explanation of these conflicts, including an explanation of our trading policy, and how we resolve them, click here.

Neither the authors nor any Bankstocks.com team members can provide investment advice or respond to individual requests for recommendations. However, we encourage your feedback and welcome your comments on any of the articles on this site. Neither the authors nor Bankstocks.com has undertaken any responsibility to update any portion of this article in response to events which may transpire subsequent to its original publication date.