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ABA Banking Journal Podcast

Apr 19, 2018

Pilot Bank in Tampa, Fla., is a full-service $305 million community bank with a unique wing: private aircraft finance. Through its affiliate NAFCO, the bank makes loans for owner-flown aircraft throughout the country, providing credit opportunities for the hundreds of thousands of individuals in this middle-market segment. 

This isn't the world of private jets for business titans, notes Rita Lowman, Pilot Bank's president, on the latest episode of the ABA Banking Journal Podcast (sponsored by Windstream Enterprise). Instead, it's a diverse market of piston-driven planes, turboprops, small jets, experimental aircraft and vintage planes -- all owned by their pilots. These pilots love their planes, Lowman notes, which makes this a highly performing section of the bank. "It's the best ratio of all our lending," she says. "Our default ratio is a minimum."

Pilot Bank also developed an online account feature that allows aircraft customers outside the Tampa Bay area to bring the rest of their banking business to the bank. It's proven to be a strong niche for a community lender. "You have to know how to insure it, you have to know the underwriting capabilities," Lowman notes. "You have to make sure that plane's being maintained."

On the podcast, Lowman also discusses her experience as a bank turnaround executive, working on acquisitions of troubled lenders for a major southeastern bank and her views on the de novo environment in Florida. And, as the current chairman of the Florida Bankers Association, she talks about her efforts to develop the banking leadership pipeline in the Sunshine State.