Photography by: Bijay Dixit
Article by: Manu Shah
On 27th February, IACCGH Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia welcomed “the roomful of friends and supporters” who had gathered to honor Wallis State Bank’s Vice Chairman and CEO Asif Dakri’s appointment to the prestigious FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporations) Advisory Committee on Community Banking. Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray, Chancellor and Chief Guest for the evening Dr. Renu Khator, Dr. Suresh Khator, Jay Guerrero and Minesh Patel from Tampa’s Chamber of Commerce were also present.
In his introductory remarks, Past President Ashok Garg underscored the strong relationship shared by the Chamber and Wallis State Bank and their longstanding support as Gala Underwriters and sponsors of the IACCGH Business Outreach programs. He also highlighted the well-deserved honor bestowed upon Asif Dakri and stated that he “had ticked all the boxes in terms of leadership, business acumen, cordiality and helpfulness.”
Appreciating the Chamber’s gesture of honoring Asif Dakri’s appointment, Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray remarked that Wallis State Bank is a story of “entrepreneurial drive and spirit” and added that he was struck by Asif Dakri’s focus in giving back to the community.
Describing Asif Dakri as a “great role model,” Dr. Renu Khator also drew attention to the honoree’s generosity and support of UH programs and lauded his accomplishments in making Wallis State Bank the number one SBA lender in the Houston region. Asif Dakri’s new role, she continued, will offer him the opportunity in doing “something bigger” in terms of advising the Government on regulatory and monetary policies. She also lauded Asif Dakri’s efforts in helping UH’s SURE program which has been championed by Professor Dr. Saleha Khumawala and promotes entrepreneurship among underprivileged children.
Asif Dakri’s appointment to the FDIC Advisory committee is a matter of pride for the South Asian community and he with a panel of 13 members will provide advice on policy issues that impact small community banks throughout the country. He represents FDIC’s Dallas region which oversees 8 states.
In his Keynote, Asif Dakri offered a brief overview of Wallis State Bank and its successful streak as the number one SBA lending Bank in Houston for the past three years specializing in small business lending.
He also presented an interesting insight about Houston’s economy which highlighted where we were, where we stand and where we are going. Pre 2014, Houston, he elaborated, had a tremendous run up in employment rates, real estate prices and construction but when OPEC refused to limit oil production in November 2014, the markets took a dive. This led to a loss of thousands of jobs and a real estate decline in multifamily and office markets among other casualties. The exceptions were retail, healthcare and education that were making money.
Today, oil prices have stabilized but a likely Fed interest rate hike could crimp growth and make it harder to “keep the American dream alive.” As for the future, he remarked that his guess about where it was headed was “as good as anyone else’s” but was optimistic that despite the bumps on the road, Houston’s future is still favorable.
Asif Dakri concluded by appealing to the gathering to become more “involved and proactive” not only in their Indo American or South Asian communities but the American community at large.