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Former bank CEO starts over

READ MORE: Former Bank CEO Starts Over

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It's become a familiar story for many as the nation struggles with a devastating economy: losing your job and having to start over from square one. Rick Willetts was the head of Cooperative Bank. Last June the bank collapsed; the tough economy devouring what he had taken so much pride in.

"I'm a third generation of my family to run the bank," Willetts said. "That's the only job I ever wanted growing up. As a little boy people wanted to become a policeman or firemen, but I never wanted to be anything but the president of the bank."

Willetts and his staff of more than 200 were unemployed when Cooperative Bank closed. The time off allowed him to spend some much needed time with family he says. Several months later Willetts got the opportunity to get back on his feet.

"I was approached by Ron Copley, who's been a friend for many years, and asked me to consider joining his firm, a wealth management firm," Willetts said.

Willetts went from CEO to a partner, basically starting over, but he says the path ahead is promising.

"I'm thankful that I have some skills and some friends that have enabled me to pick myself up and move forward in what I believe is a real good opportunity for me," he said.

Willetts said though it was tough seeing his bank close, the experience made him realize what's most important in life: family.

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Fed bank regulators: "gross negligence & reckless conduct"

What an ironic job for the banker to enter, helping wealthy people manage the risk associated with investing. He has personally been fined $33 million by Federal authorities and the rest of his board at the bank has been fined massive amounts as well totaling roughly $150 million. That's a lot of wealth management fees that need to be made! The FDIC complaint against Cooperative bank's alleges that the defendants “failed to manage the inherent risks associated with their aggressive growth strategy” and “permitted a lax loan approval process.” The complaint further alleges that through out the period 2005 through the bank’s failure, state and federal regulators “repeatedly warned” the bank’s management and board “about the risks associated with its high concentrations in speculative loans and weaknesses in lending functions,” yet the bank’s board “permitted and approved” the bank’s continued lending practices. The FDIC alleges that the defendants’ negligence, gross negligence and reckless conduct “ultimately led to the bank’s failure.”

I wonder if Cooperative and

I wonder if Cooperative and Cape Fear Banks as we knew them would be in business today had they received prompt assistance and forebearance from the Feral Government as did Citi and BA when they jumped the shark.....

Best of luck to ya', Rick!

Generational business destruction

It's been said that the first generation starts the business, the second builds it, and the third destroys it.'ve proven the author correct.

Yea, okay

Don't feel bad for him, he "got his" when he stepped down as CEO & before he departed the bank.

I worked for Cooperative

I worked for Cooperative Bank for over 12 years and have great respect for Mr. Willetts. I also had the pleasure of working with his father Mr. Fred Willetts. I was heartsick when I heard of the banks closing. I wish Mr Willetts and his family and all the employees of Cooperative bank the very best. I learned many valuable lessons from my experience as an employee there and Cooperative Bank will always have a special place in my heart.
Marsha Exley

The best lessons to learn from Cooperative

1. Diversify your holdings. Don't place the lion's share of your net worth in one investment

2. Don't expand your business just for the sake of expanding. How many offices were never staffed by First Bank and are now being sold because the chosen area couldn't justify a branch?

Mister Willetts was the captain of the ship, and he chose to move full speed ahead until he hit an iceberg labeled "inadequate diversification and excessive, unwarranted growth."

This story strikes me as a business announcement more than real news, because it's basically a human NON-interest story. Far more interesting would be stories about the 200+ people who lost their jobs or the thousands of investors who saw their money evaporate in bankruptcy court.

Good luck in your future career, but I'll pass on your services. You already cost me enough money. I'm just glad I got out when I did, and didn't take the elevator ride down to the basement like so many others who still believed in you.

I'll bet that you won't recommend Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, will you????

Wealth management...

isn't a field Rick should enter. After all, he took what his grandfather and father built and tore it apart. I don't think I'd hand my portfolio over to him.

I am really broken hearted...

that mr. willetts, has to get up and go to work like many people who lost their shirts at his bank.

Maybe, when he bounces a $4. check and has to pay a $35 fee- he will remember us.