Banks enjoying one of their ‘best years ever’

Local banking professionals see potential for continued growth in 2017

Pacific Contentental Bank
VBJ file photo

A strong economy, growth in industry and stable interest rates are leading local banks to say they’re having a great 2016, while giving banking executives reason to have a positive outlook for 2017.

The banking industry as a whole is in good shape, according to Tami Nesburg, executive vice president and regional manager at Regents Bank.

“Businesses are doing well and expanding, adding employees,” she said. “We are having one of the best years we’ve ever had.”

Nesburg said that part of the positive trend – at least at Regents Bank – is because rates have stayed stable, and instability overseas has not affected the way the bank does business.

Protecting clients from the threats of cyber crime has been one of the biggest challenges that Regents Bank has faced this year, Nesburg said. In the coming months, the bank will offer a Client Cyber Crime Insurance policy, exclusively for business clients through Grandpoint Insurance Services and in partnership with LBW Insurance and Financial Services.

“Other than that, it’s been business as usual, just helping people to get things done,” she added.

Another Vancouver bank with a strong community presence, Pacific Continental Bank, is having an exceptional year, noted Kristy Weaver, senior vice president/relationship banking team leader.

“Of note, we have achieved outstanding financial results in the first two quarters of 2016, seeing very positive loan and deposit growth. Further, we have again been recognized as an outstanding place to work in both Oregon and Washington from top publications and received our second consecutive Banker’s Cup from Raymond James (identifying outstanding community banks),” Weaver said. “All and all, 2016 continues to be a very good year for the employees, clients and shareholders of Pacific Continental Bank.”

Throughout the rest of 2016 and into 2017, Weaver said she expects to see mergers and acquisitions to continue all over the banking industry. This includes Pacific Continental Bank, which recently announced its intention to acquire Foundation Bank of Bellevue, Wash.

“Obviously, the opening and operation of our new office in Vancouver has been a huge occurrence for Pacific Continental Bank in Vancouver,” said Weaver. “We have received nothing but positive feedback from our employees, clients and the community, and our growth in the market has been outstanding. We believe our new building is not only a tremendous space for collaboration among employees and clients, but it is fast becoming a landmark for the revitalization of downtown. Companywide, we are soon going to surpass $2 billion in total assets – further illustrating our growth and stability as a leading business bank in the Pacific Northwest.”

A highlight of Pacific Continental’s new office at Sixth and Main streets has been the 50-person community room, which is open for use by area nonprofits and organizations. Weaver explained that nearly 50 groups have already made use of the space, and the company looks forward to hosting local organizations for years to come.

“Additionally, we believe that our new Vancouver office will serve as the prototype for our next generation of banking offices, and the design and architectural lessons we learn here will carry over into our other markets,” she said.

A mix of organic growth and the potential for more mergers and acquisitions is expected to happen for Pacific Continental Bank throughout the rest of 2016 and 2017, Weaver noted.

Larger banks are also enjoying the strength of the Southwest Washington’s economy, according to Mark Trupp, the Southwest Washington district manager for Wells Fargo Bank.

“Overall, the [metro area] grew twice as fast as the nation in 2015, and it [has continued to grow] because of an increase of jobs and innovation,” said Trupp. “We are working to respond to the needs of people who live on the go, and to our small businesses that need to be agile as they manage the changing needs of a growing economy.”

Trupp said that banking clients today are looking for added flexibility from their financial institution, like the ability to easily manage their finances without using cash. In response to that increased demand, Wells Fargo developed two new features: the recently launched FastFlex Small Business Loan, and real-time person-to-person transactions for mobile customers, which will be released next month.

“[Fast Flex is] an online, fast-decision loan that is funded as soon as the next business day and offers a competitive interest rate to small businesses with short-term credit needs,” Trupp explained. “The loan is available with one-year terms, at amounts ranging from $10,000 to $35,000, with required payments made on a weekly basis automatically deducted from the customer’s business-deposit account. The [person-to-person transaction] service will allow customers to send funds in real-time at no cost to any customer of a bank that participates in the real-time service…”

Looking ahead, Trupp said he expects to see banks continue to innovate and create new products and services, armed with the belief that they’re helping business and personal banking clients prosper through 2016 and beyond.