Founder and Chair – LMFC
Vice Chair – LMFC
President and CEO – The Bank of Northern Michigan
SVP of Shared Services - LMFC
Senior Vice President, Traverse City Market Manager

Hear from the founder of Lake Michigan Financial Corporation, Rich Lievense, and his insight on what this blog encompasses.

Trust has always been a foundation for the lending business. Banks make loans and trust that people will tell us the truth and pay us back. It sounds old fashioned but we rely on that personal commitment in our business. The national residential real estate nightmare is having a profound effect on trust. People see large companies walking away from their obligations and declaring bankruptcy with the express intent of not paying back loans. Some banks seem to have been rewarded for their risky behavior. People ask, why not me? Why should I continue to pay a loan where I own more than the property is worth? Why don't I just stop paying and find another house at today's reduced valuations? My neighbor just walked away from his house, why shouldn't I? This trend will have a significant impact on the availability of credit in the future. It will also be a revealing indication of the values that serve as a foundation for our society.

Read more, article: Walk Away from Your Mortgage! from The New York Times.



It seems easy to be critical of our country. The media reviews our problems and deficiencies on a ongoing basis and it is easy to lose hope in future. We seem to forget the wonderful advances born in this country and the leadership and commitment to freedom that characterizes us around the world. How to we change our mindset and start to evaluate how we will emerge from our current difficulties? How do we build on our intrinsic strengths and re-establish our place in the world?

We continue to be optimistic about the ability of the American people to be great. Our culture of innovation, our commitment to education, a willingness to work hard and take risks, and our receptiveness to immigration have been hallmarks of our road to prosperity. We do wonder, however, about our broken and gridlocked political system. Is this system ready to address our twenty-first century challenges? Will we re-establish to commitment to the 'common good'?

Read more, article: How America Can Rise Again in The Atlantic.




We have all been reading about the difficulties in the commercial real estate markets. Over-building, reduced rents, fewer potential tenants, lack of available financing, large and high profile defaults, reduced appraised values, and aggressive banking regulators all affect this important segment of the economy. Since this asset class tends to be financed with loans that mature every five or seven years, many existing loans will come up for renewal in 2010. As a result, this will be a pivotal year.


We believe there has been too much money chasing this asset classification for some time and it has led to over-development and rampant speculation. We are going through an adjustment period that will be difficult for our economy and for commercial real estate owners. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this problem and we all might just might need to survive (as opposed to prosper in) this difficult period.

Read more, article: Capitalist Fools in The Atlantic.


In recent months, we have all see an avalanche of new and increased fees coming from the banking and financial service industry. Anyone who has a charge card, brokerage account, or an account at another bank knows what we are talking about. Many Banks are scrambling to increase profitability by charging what we call 'nuisance fees'. This has caught the attention of lawmakers in Washington and there is a move to significantly reduce banking fees. While this will be good for the consumer in the short run, a predictable result of this action will be a reduction in branch systems and account availability over time.

We have been careful not to base our banking model on nuisance fees. We do not believe they are fair and they tend to especially impact lower income people.   Through legislative action, the industry will be forced to reduce these fees and, as a result, banking services will become less available in our society.

Read more, article: Consumer Fees: The Hits Keep Coming from American Banker.



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