Why First Republic Bank Collapsed

First Republic Bank was once a shining example of a successful financial institution. Founded in 1985, it built a reputation as a bank for the wealthy, catering to the needs of high net worth individuals and businesses. However, in 2023, it collapsed under the weight of its own mismanagement. In this article, we will explore the factors that contributed to First Republic Bank’s failure.


The collapse of First Republic Bank was a shock to many in the financial industry. For years, the bank had been known for its stable growth and high profitability. However, the rising interest rates that began in early 2023 proved to be too much for the bank to handle. Its strategy of relying on wealthy depositors backfired, and the bank found itself unable to raise enough deposits to sustain its operations.

The Impact of Rising Interest Rates

One of the main reasons why First Republic Bank collapsed was its failure to reckon with the impact of rising interest rates. As the Federal Reserve began to raise rates in early 2023, the bank found itself in a precarious position. Its strategy of relying on wealthy depositors to fund its lending activities had worked well when rates were low. However, as rates rose, its depositors began to demand higher returns on their deposits.

In February 2023, First Republic Bank’s well-heeled customers started yanking money from their accounts. The bank tried to stem the tide by offering higher rates on certificates of deposit. However, even that was a tough sell. Many depositors had become wary of the bank’s stability, and they were not willing to tie up their money in long-term deposits.

The Role of Mismanagement

Another factor that contributed to First Republic Bank’s failure was mismanagement. The bank’s leadership failed to take the necessary steps to address the rising interest rates and the resulting decline in deposits. Instead, they doubled down on their strategy of relying on wealthy depositors, hoping that the tide would turn.

Jim Herbert, the bank’s 78-year-old founder, usually a reassuring presence, slammed his hand on the table during an all-hands meeting. “We’ve got to get more deposits,” he said, according to people familiar with the matter. However, this belated effort was too little, too late. The bank’s mismanagement had already led to a decline in its reputation and customer base, making it difficult to attract new deposits.

The Impact on Customers and Employees

The collapse of First Republic Bank had a significant impact on its customers and employees. Many of the bank’s wealthy depositors lost significant amounts of money when the bank went under. This was a devastating blow for many of them, who had trusted the bank with their life savings.

The bank’s collapse also had a ripple effect on the wider financial industry. It highlighted the risks of relying too heavily on wealthy depositors, and it raised concerns about the stability of other banks that catered to high net worth individuals.

For the bank’s employees, the collapse was a devastating blow. Many of them lost their jobs when the bank shut down, and they struggled to find new employment in an already challenging job market.

Lessons Learned

The collapse of First Republic Bank offers several lessons for the financial industry. One of the most important is the need to diversify funding sources. Relying too heavily on any one group of depositors is risky, especially in a volatile market.

Another lesson is the importance of effective leadership. First Republic Bank’s mismanagement played a significant role in its collapse. Effective leadership that can adapt to changing market conditions is essential for any financial institution to succeed.

The Need for Risk Management

Another lesson that can be drawn from the collapse of First Republic Bank is the importance of effective risk management. The bank’s reliance on wealthy depositors and its failure to diversify its funding sources left it vulnerable to market fluctuations. This vulnerability was compounded by its management’s failure to take effective action when faced with declining deposits.

Effective risk management is essential for any financial institution, particularly in a rapidly changing market. Banks need to be able to identify potential risks and take steps to mitigate them before they become threats. This requires a proactive approach to risk management and a willingness to make tough decisions when necessary.

The Impact of Regulatory Oversight

The collapse of First Republic Bank also raises questions about the role of regulatory oversight in the financial industry. While it is true that banks must take responsibility for their own actions, regulatory oversight can play a critical role in preventing failures.

In the case of First Republic Bank, it is unclear whether regulatory oversight could have prevented its collapse. However, the incident highlights the need for effective oversight and regulation of the financial industry. This includes strong oversight of lending practices, deposit insurance programs, and other measures designed to protect both customers and the financial system as a whole.

The Importance of Transparency

Finally, the collapse of First Republic Bank underscores the importance of transparency in the financial industry. Customers need to be able to trust their banks, and transparency is essential for building that trust.

In the case of First Republic Bank, its mismanagement and its failure to diversify its funding sources were not immediately apparent to its customers. This lack of transparency undermined customer confidence in the bank and contributed to its collapse.

Moving forward, banks need to be more transparent about their operations and their risks. This includes providing clear information about lending practices, funding sources, and other important factors that affect their stability and reliability.


The collapse of First Republic Bank was a tragedy for its customers, employees, and the financial industry as a whole. It highlights the risks inherent in relying too heavily on any one group of depositors and the importance of effective risk management, leadership, regulatory oversight, and transparency.

Moving forward, the financial industry must learn from the mistakes of the past and take steps to prevent similar failures. This includes diversifying funding sources, taking a proactive approach to risk management, promoting effective leadership, strengthening regulatory oversight, and increasing transparency.

By taking these steps, the industry can build a more stable and resilient financial system that serves the needs of all customers and promotes long-term growth and prosperity.