Donald Trump’s presidential victory sharply lifted investor perceptions of business prospects for financial service firms in Minnesota and across the country. Stock prices and market capitalizations rose sharply for banks, investment services firms and insurance companies in the months after the November election. Trump promised to ease regulations on financial firms and investors also believed they would benefit from stronger consumer and business sentiment. Expectations he would follow through started to outweigh investors’ views on the benefits that rising interest rates would have on the sector.
Then-U.S. Bancorp Chief Executive Richard Davis summed up the mood in a speech he gave in Minneapolis just five days after Trump took office. “The idea we want to have more jobs here, more growth, get GDP growth from 1 percent-2 percent back up to 3 percent-4 percent, that’s remarkable,” Davis said. “The belief that it’s possible completely changes the early stage of the game.”
The result: The five financial services firms in the Star Tribune 50 saw the biggest market-cap gain — 19.6 percent — of any sector in 2016. That’s nearly twice the market cap growth experienced in the Star Tribune 50 overall. The financial firms also punched above their weight in profits, producing about one-fifth of overall profits while only 7 percent of revenue.
Trump last month signed an executive order to review the Dodd-Frank law that imposed restrictions on financial services firms after the 2008 economic downturn. It also seeks changes in rules on smaller financial firms.
But the Trump administration’s legislative agenda has started to drift after the White House became bogged down over an investigation into possible ties with Russia and a misfire on health care reform. Now the question is whether financial firms will see the performance gains investors bet on.
Meanwhile, the financial service sector of the Star Tribune 50 remains dominated by U.S. Bancorp, the Minneapolis firm that runs the nation’s fifth-largest bank by assets. By nearly all financial metrics, the company is the strongest-performing large bank in the country. Davis last month retired after a decade as CEO and passed the baton to Andrew Cecere, a longtime executive. “Our businesses are strong, and our culture of innovation is intact,” Cecere said on his first day on the job. “So as I transition into my new role, you should not expect major changes.”
TCF Financial Corp., another major local financial firm, also experienced a leadership change with the elevation of Craig Dahl to chief executive. His predecessor, Bill Cooper, who built the company as its leader since the 1980s and remained its chairman, died this winter.