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A Conversation With … Justin Butler

Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Officer at UMB Bank

Posted online

The Federal Reserve has slowly raised interest rates since emergency levels in 2015. This year, the Fed has increased rates twice. What should we expect next?
For 2018, we really expect more of the same with the continued growth. There’s a lot of news out there. I definitely think that the growth of the economy supports additional interest rate raises.

What do these rate hikes say about our economy?
We have a strong economy is No. 1. This allows companies to really plan for the future as they’re looking to grow. This is a great time to work with your financial partners from a planning stage with interest-rate increases on the horizon. If they’re looking for any big purchases or development, it’s a good time to look at fixing long-term rates so they can simply plan and mitigate their risk from short-term interest rates.

The Fed staved off rate hikes and held at a near zero level for seven years to boost the economy. Today, we have low unemployment and our economy is growing at the strongest pace in four years. Why is raising interest rates important now?
Our economy continues to recover from the recession and grow back from a normal rate. Really, economic growth and inflation are both growing, which support interest-rate increases. Companies are evaluating opportunities, and momentum is really pushing forward, so companies are looking for opportunities to grab hold of the market. Whether that’s acquisitions, maybe large pieces of equipment or hiring people – that’s at the forefront of people’s minds.

How does the climate of rising interest rates affect banks and consumers?
Banks are advisers. It’s our job to stay close to our clients and the same in return. When they’re in their planning stage, it’s really important to find the right solution. Our role at the end of the day is to support the growth of our clients.

What trends are you seeing among customers in this economic climate?
We’re seeing a lot of growth in commercial real estate, as well as with our manufacturing, really, commercial industrial clients. Whether that comes in the form of expanding market share in different regions – acquisition, large pieces of equipment and aviation – we’re also really seeing the same in all sectors, including health care. You can drive around and see a lot of growth, which is great for Springfield.

Justin Butler can be reached at justin.butler@umb.com.

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