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Globally, 2008 was an extremely challenging year. Many of us experienced decreased wages, loss of employment or employment benefits, or reduction of value in retirement or trading accounts. Those who did not personally experience these losses probably know someone who did. The vast majority of us, however, remain in good physical health and are willing to work twice as hard to make 2009 the year of adaptation and recovery.

To be sure, 2009 will present its own challenges: The United States must reinvent itself; President Obama and his staff must work diligently at home and abroad to bring integrity and credibility back to our country; world leaders must collaborate to forge lasting peaceful partnerships; and individually, we must help one another, with a focus on strengthening the family unit. By fortifying our families, we can do our part to stabilize and reinvigorate our communities—and the United States as a whole.

The following is a quote taken from a June 2006 article written about my father, Hugo A. Gutierrez, Sr., former Chairman of the Board of Falcon International Bank:

“I’ve always told my children to keep looking forward, don’t look back. There’s nothing you can do about the past, but you can sure do a lot with the future.”

Best wishes going forward into this new year, and I sincerely thank you for your continued support.

A message to our Falcon family:

As we all expected, the first quarter of 2009 brought with it many challenges. Trillions of dollars have been injected into the economy with few noticeable results by most of us. Globally speaking, we’re still concerned about our jobs, our homes, our finances, and about those people we most care about: our families. I’ve spoken with young parents, grandparents, and others in between who have simply said, “We’re all running scared.”

The future is clear: we’re all going to have to work much harder and much longer to achieve or maintain the American dream. To reach our individual goals, we’ll have to be more demanding of ourselves and of each other, including our elected officials. To get past these turbulent times, we’ll need to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort level. In this way, we’ll be forced to overcome our fears, and one fear in particular- that of spending and investing.

I’m not an advocate of reckless spending, in any economic climate. But our spending accounts for almost two-thirds of the economy-so this is the time for smart spending. This is the time to purchase a home at the lowest prices and the lowest interest rates I’ve seen in my lifetime; to buy a new car at heavy discounts and historically low interest rates; to take advantage of clothing sales at 80% off plus another 20% off plus a bonus 10% off….. You get the picture. For over 90% of the working public, our dollar can buy so much more these days. If you have a specific need, this is definitely the time to courageously fill that need.

Of course, in terms of investment, I would agree with my father. He told us, “The most important investment a person can make is his/her family.” In this economy or any other, I can’t think of anything wiser.

We stand 100% committed to family, to you, and to your success. Thank you for your continued support.

Adolfo E. Gutierrez. Chairman of the Board.

To our Falcon family,

In this current global climate, it’s often difficult to find things for which to be thankful. But in June, we were reminded once again that our health is our most precious asset.

Three close members of our Falcon family can attest to this. The first is my Tio Chano, my dad’s oldest brother and patriarch of the Gutierrez family. At 87, dizziness and a few “missteps” can indicate something much more serious. In Tio Chano’s case, these seemingly mild symptoms pointed to an ailing carotid artery, which, if left untreated can have very serious consequences. Dr. Manuel Gonzalez at Doctor’s Hospital in Laredo performed surgery to improve the blood flow through Tio Chano’s artery. After a couple of weeks at the hospital, my uncle was released and is now back to being the workaholic he’s always been!

Also in June, Mario, one of Falcon’s most senior and beloved officers, experienced severe chest pain, extreme sweats, and nausea. Mario’s wife immediately took Mario to the emergency room at Laredo Medical Center, where Dr. Carlos Cigarroa performed emergency heart surgery. By July 4th, Mario was doing well and is currently awaiting the doctor’s permission to return to work.

In mid-June, Luciano, another valued member of our Falcon family, began feeling excruciating abdominal pain. Less than one hour after meeting with his doctor, Luciano was in surgery. The medical staff at Doctor’s Hospital informed Luciano that if Dr. Fermin Romero had not performed the surgery at that precise moment, Luciano would have only survived a few more hours. As of July 4th, Luciano was still recovering in the comfort of his home.

At Falcon, our priorities are Faith, Family, Falcon. We are blessed to have Tio Chano, Mario, and Luciano with us today. We are grateful for the daily miracles that occur at the hands of skilled medical practitioners and for the care given at our local hospitals. We are thankful for the health of our family and for the liberties we enjoy in our country.

On behalf everyone at Falcon, we truly appreciate your continued support.

To our Falcon family,

As parents, how many times have we heard our kids say, “It’s not fair!” As kids, how many times have we screamed to the heavens, “It’s not fair!”

Now, speaking for community banks, I can proclaim, “It’s not fair!” Irresponsible large financial institutions in the banking and investment banking sectors caused us to bear the brunt of the chaos the US finds itself in. The vast majority of community banks did not participate in, or profit from, the sub-prime mortgage products offered by “others”. We did not engage in excessive risk-taking by reducing our underwriting standards. We continue to be a lifeline to so many in our community. In spite of the above, community banks are definitely paying for the sins of others. Below is a list of facts that, at the very least, will make for interesting conversation:

  • The official date of the beginning of the recession is December, 2007.
  • The consensus today is that the recession is technically over. We won’t know the exact date until some time next year.
  • 95 banks have been closed in the US to date this year. Only 3 have been from Texas.
  • 94% of the “bank” problems were not created by community banks.
  • FDIC was established in 1933 and is funded by the banking industry.
  • Banks that were considered “Too big to fail” by our government seem to be getting bigger. The majority of failed banks are being purchased by banks that participated in the TARP program.
  • The 4 largest banks comprise _______% of all bank assets.
  • Washington is trying to set up a super regulator to add additional regulation to over 8000 banks that didn’t have anything to do with the mess that occurred.
  • Community banks are competing with “big banks” with implicit government backing. The only lifeline of Community banks is our own bootstraps.
  • Most community banks invest the majority of their deposits in their local community.
  • “Cash for Clunkers” helped dealers sell over 700,000 cars.
  • “Cash for Appliances” is now being considered for passage.
  • Falcon Bank is a local bank headquartered in Laredo, Texas.
  • Falcon Bank was founded in 1986.
  • Falcon Bank has 17 branches in strategic locations including, Laredo, San Antonio, Buda, McAllen, Brownsville, Eagle Pass, and Del Rio.
  • Falcon Bank first appeared in the Hispanic Business Magazine in 1997 as one of the 500 largest Hispanic-owned businesses at #499. Currently, we are ranked #81.
  • Falcon Bank is here for you.

May dad’s response to, “It’s not fair!” was quite simple. He said, “Who said it had to be fair? You just have to play by the rules, even if the rules keep changing.”

Thank you for allowing me to vent and also to brag a little. Thank you for your support of community banking and specifically for your continued support of Falcon International Bank