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CEO Jon Winick Interview SNL 8/14/17

Seasonality helps big banks grow loans in Q2 but forecast remains dim for year

https://www.snl.com/web/client?auth=inherit#news/article?id=41631584&cdid=A-41631584-11315

By  Brian Cheung and Carolyn Duren

Lending at the nation’s largest banks grew compared to a seasonally sluggish first quarter of 2017, but the industry remains subdued on expectations for growth in the coming quarters.

All 10 of the largest banks saw quarter-over-quarter growth in total loans and leases, with stronger performance coming from consumer lending. But commercial and industrial, or C&I, lending did not appear as strong for the quarter, namely at three of the big four banks: JPMorgan Chase Bank NAWells Fargo Bank NA and Bank of America NA. In its most recent survey of senior loan officers, the Federal Reserve noted that the flattening activity in C&I is the result of weaker demand in the second quarter, since banks left their standards “basically unchanged.”

In residential real estate, the Fed noticed banks slightly easing standards as demand strengthened. Most of the largest banks saw higher mortgage and home equity lending, although Capital One NA saw its portfolio fall 4.5% quarter over quarter as it continues to carry out a planned runoff of its mortgages.

On commercial real estate, or CRE, the Fed saw tighter lending standards as demand weakened. But most of the big banks saw quarter-over-quarter increases in lending, with the exception of Bank of America NA and U.S. Bank NA.

Chris Kotowski, analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., said in an interview that the big banks have broadly grown more slowly than the industry. S&P Global Market Intelligence data shows that only three of the 10 largest banks grew loans in the second quarter at a higher rate than the U.S. commercial bank aggregate of 1.7%: Wells Fargo, Citibank and PNC Bank NA.

“We are in a slow, steady state,” Kotowski said in an interview.

On earnings calls, executives of the largest banks also painted a bleak forecast of loan growth in coming quarters.

At Bank of America Corp., CFO Paul Donofrio said July 18 that the company expects only a “little bit of growth,” with total loans expanding at a rate in the low single digits. Wells Fargo & Co. CFO John Shrewsberry said July 14 that his company is also targeting low single-digit loan growth for the year.

SunTrust Banks Inc. Chairman, CEO and President William Rogers Jr. said his company is focused on adapting to pockets of different lending categories where there are growth opportunities.

“If we’ve been in a cycle and we’ve been unable to achieve that kind of return, we’re totally willing to move on and move to another opportunity where we think we can benefit more substantially,” Rogers said.

As executives exuded cautious optimism for future loan growth, analysts appear to be closely watching credit markets. A July 31 Oppenheimer note acknowledges that current year-over-year growth, based on the Federal Reserve’s H.8 data, is cause for concern because it is running just under nominal GDP.

“What would really worry us is if banks and borrowers had started pulling in their horns because of signs of credit issues,” the note reads.

Jon Winick, president of bank adviser Clark Street Capital, said in an interview that his overall outlook for loan growth is “flat to negative,” pointing to weaker C&I lending that can’t be overcome with stronger residential mortgage activity. He added that he talked with one corporate lender at a large bank who described current loan pipelines as “dead,” presenting some anecdotal evidence that loan growth may not pick up soon.

“In the aggregate it’s hard to be optimistic on loan growth,” Winick said.

Clark Street Capital in American Banker: The Two Ways to Read into Lenders’ Low Chargeoffs 8/8/17

American Banker Story 8/7/17

Written by:

Net chargeoffs are at a 10-year low. That’s a good thing … right?

Well, as a wise grandma might reflect, the answer to such questions depends on where you are at in life, or in the case of lenders, where they are at in the business cycle.

Look at the numbers over the past decade: Net chargeoffs peaked at 3.14% in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Then they began to plummet, and since the first quarter of 2014 the chargeoff ratio has hovered around a half of a percentage point, which is right where it stood in the first half of 2007, before the financial crisis began.

A chargeoff rate of 0.47% — the reading for the first quarter of this year — would have seemed like a gift from the heavens for most banks in the immediate years after the crisis, but now, in an era when lenders are scrounging for growth and the tepid economic recovery persists, the low figure raises questions about whether bankers are being too cautious for their own good and everyone else’s.

One reason that chargeoffs are low is that the value of assets has increased “so that you’re not taking a loss when these deals go bad,” said Jon Winick, CEO of the banking advisory firm Clark Street Capital in Chicago.

Banks, too, perhaps have learned from the past and improved their risk management skills.

“Certainly chargeoffs are at a level where bank lending is very profitable,” Winick said.

At the same time, it could be argued that several years of such low chargeoffs means banks are not taking enough risk, he said.

What is the optimal rate, the right balance between systemic risk and macroeconomic reward? Winick said his estimate “is probably somewhere between where we are and 1%.” When the rate tops 1%, it typically means real estate prices have fallen or the economy is in a recession, Winick said.

Eventually the ratios have to rise, but bank executives recently have sounded content with the status quo. In fact, some seemed to relish it.

Thomas Reddish, the chief financial officer for TriCo Bancshares in Chico, Calif., said the $4.5 billion-asset company’s current loan-loss allowance is 1%.

“It’s hard to establish an allowance when you don’t have any losses,” Reddish said at the Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Community Bank Investor Conference last week. “I don’t think we’ve had any net chargeoffs in the last five years.”

Susan Cullen, CFO at Flushing Financial in Uniondale, N.Y., said the $6.3 billion-asset company has not recorded a loan-loss provision for the past 18 months and charged off only $54,000 of credits in the second quarter.

“Those are very low numbers that we’ve had for a long time,” Cullen said at the KBW conference. “We have not taken a charge in quite a while.”

Michael Scudder, CEO of the $14 billion-asset First Midwest Bancorp in Itasca, Ill., said its chargeoff rates are lower than normal.

“Our credit performance in the quarter was also favorable again, reflective of the current benign credit environment, as chargeoffs of 16 basis points were well below what we would call our normalized range of 25 to 40 basis points,” he said during a July 26conference call on second-quarter results.

Andy Schornack, president and CEO of Flagship Bank Minnesota in Wayzata, said there is some speculation that marketplace lenders are possibly “taking some of the high-risk borrowers out of the banking market.” While banks are doing well, the online lenders are seeing higher chargeoff rates, he said.

“You’re looking at two models that are seeing diverging paths, and you’ve got one with the banks that are really performing really well on a credit-quality standpoint,” Schornack said in an interview.

As much as ever, the numbers and the satisfaction that bankers are expressing about them can be alternatively viewed as signs of success, underachievement or a calm before the storm.

The current environment is good in that it means portfolio performance is safe, Winick said, but the problem is now things can only get worse.

“What comes next I think is harder to predict,” Winick said.

“Real Estate for Breakfast” Podcast

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-14-jon-winick/id1191604057?i=1000389240521&mt=2

SNL: Analysts look for new growth cues from Wells Fargo

By Kevin Dobbs

When Wells Fargo & Co. reports second-quarter earnings next week, analysts will look for signs that it is increasing profits after a lull in growth that followed the bank’s 2016 sales-tactics scandal.

Regulators last September said they had fined the San Francisco-based bank after learning that bank staffers opened millions of deposit and credit card accounts for customers without their permission. New account opening dropped in the ensuing months, hurting revenue growth, and both legal and regulatory costs rose. The result: Wells posted fourth-quarter 2016 and first-quarter 2017 earnings that were below year-earlier levels.

But an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of Wall Street’s expectations found that, on average, analysts expect Wells to post revenue and earnings per share figures that are higher than the previous quarter and a year earlier. “They have gone through a lot of pain, but I think they can now start focusing on growing earnings again,” Vining Sparks analyst Marty Mosby, who covers Wells, said in an interview.

In June, Wells got a key nod of approval from regulators: After the bank passed an annual stress test designed to ensure it could navigate a financial crisis, Federal Reserve officials approved the bank’s plan to increase its dividend and stock buyback program. Both moves are signs of capital and overall strength, Mosby said. He added that the Fed’s nod indicates the effects of the sales fraud, while still hindering the company in terms of legal costs and lingering reputational damage, are temporary and starting to fade.

“It’s kind of a stamp of approval,” Mosby said of the Fed checking off on Wells’ capital deployment plan.

He said Wells had “ring-fenced” the sales issue and publicly outlined important steps it took to prevent such a debacle from occurring again, including changes to the way it pays and motivates retail bank employees.

“Ultimately, I don’t think it was really a threat in terms of what they asked the Fed for with their capital planning,” Mosby said. “I think this is the inflection point for Wells.”

Jon Winick, president of bank adviser Clark Street Capital and a long-time Wells observer, agreed. “Wells is so big that the damages aren’t going to be that impactful as far as their capital position,” he said in an interview. Regulators “are probably seeing that the actual cost of the Wells accounts issue is pretty low and quantifiable.”

Mosby anticipates that Wells will gradually rebuild sales levels in its retail bank over coming quarters. That, in concert with an ongoing cost-cutting effort, should help the bank shake off the aftershocks of the scandal, lower its efficiency ratio and gather notable earnings momentum in 2018. Mary Mack, head of Wells’ community bank division, said while speaking at a conference in June that the bank is continuously looking for new ways to increase efficiency, even while it is in the midst of carrying out a plan to consolidate 450 branches and reduce expenses by some $4
billion by the end of 2019.

Wells’ first-quarter efficiency ratio, which measures noninterest expense as a share of revenue, increased to 62.7% from 58.7% a year earlier. The expense reductions are part of an effort to bring the ratio back down below 60%, where Wells has historically operated.

Speaking at a separate June conference, Wells President and CEO Timothy Sloan said it was realistic to expect that the bank could bring the efficiency ratio into a range of 55% to 59% by next year.

Later that month, Wells said it would sell its commercial insurance business to USI Insurance Services LLC, an anticipated move aimed at reducing staffing costs in noncore business lines.

That sale, and perhaps others to follow, are the kinds of moves that, on top of branch consolidation, “will help Wells get the expense ratio down to their long-term target,” Mosby said. “I think they are getting on that path now and can really get things going again by 2018.”

Wells is slated to start big-bank earnings season July 14 along with JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

Clark Street Capital’s BAN Report 6/21/17

The BAN Report: Oil Prices in Bear Market Again While Banks Step Up Lending / Banks Curb Provisioning:SNL / Cred Report Black Marks Vanish / Uber CEO Out-6/21/17

Oil Prices in Bear Market Again While Banks Step Up Lending
Steps by OPEC members to limit oil production have not worked, as US producers have stepped up production, sending oil prices back into a bear market as with a 20% decline since February.    
Oil prices are back in bear-market territory, frustrating OPEC members that cut production in an attempt to boost prices and renewing fears that falling prices could spill into stocks and other markets.
A persistent glut has weighed on prices for most of the past three years, a blow to investors who believed that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ move this year to limit production would provide relief.
Instead, U.S. producers ramped up production when the world was already swimming in oil as OPEC members, Russia and other producing nations curtailed output.
U.S. oil production is up 7.3% to 9.3 million barrels a day since OPEC announced plans in November to cut output, and the number of active rigs in the U.S. is at a two-year high.
Prices are down 20.6% since Feb. 23, marking the sixth bear market for crude in four years and the first since August. Crude prices have lost 62% since settling at $115.06 a barrel three years ago. A bear market is typically defined as a decline of 20% or more from a recent peak, while a bull market is a gain of 20% or more from a recent trough.
Obviously, this is good news for consumers, the airline industry, and hotels, but could cause problems in regions dependent on energy.    Meanwhile, many US banks are increasing lending in the energy sector, after paring back in prior years.   Comerica, Zions, and BOK Financial are growing their energy portfolios again. 
The current price range in the $40s is more economically feasible for lenders that specialize in exploration-and-production loans — essentially mortgages secured by the mineral rights, said Jared Shaw, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities.
“Oil … seems to have stabilized in the high-$40s, low-$50s kind of range,” Harris Simmons, chairman and CEO of the $64 billion-asset Zions, in Salt Lake City, said at a May 31 investor conference. “At that level, there is enough activity going to … continue [loan] demand.”
Cheaper oil has also created a credit environment that is more appealing for some banks, such as the $33 billion-asset BOK Financial in Tulsa, Okla., which has added $1 billion of energy loan commitments in the past 12 months, said Stacy Kymes, executive vice president of corporate banking. Key segments of the industry “are exhibiting growth characteristics that are positive for loan demand,” Kymes said.
About three-quarters of BOK’s energy loans are to oil and gas producers, which means the loans are secured by oil and gas reserves. That provides BOK with some insulation from the sector’s volatility, Shaw said. “They’re seeing better pricing and better structure, and it’s less competitive than it was before,” he said.
A recovery after a correction is often a good time for banks to increase lending, as they can see which energy producers are viable when the price of oil is in the 40s.     Moreover, many banks moved so quickly to shed energy loans that some very strong companies saw their access to credit curtailed.   
Banks Curb Provisioning: SNL
Smaller banks, on the other hand, have elevated provisioning, providing community banks with a larger buffer against loan losses if delinquencies rise. A key measure of provisioning looks at the amount set aside for losses relative to the bank’s net charge-offs for the quarter. If the amount exceeds 100%, it means banks have provisioned more than their loans lost, typically resulting in an increase of aggregate reserves. But if the ratio is below 100%, banks have likely released reserves, providing a boost to profits but shrinking the bank’s buffer against a credit downturn.
After years of releasing a mountain of reserves built up from the 2008 credit crisis, banks with more than $250 billion in assets increased the ratio of provisioning to charge-offs to above 100% in the first and second quarters of 2016. But since then, the ratio has fallen below the key threshold and declined again in the 2017 first quarter, reaching 85%. Meanwhile, banks with less than $10 billion in assets have continued to build reserves, posting a ratio of provisioning to charge-offs of 147% in the first quarter of 2017.
Banks have enjoyed exceptionally strong credit quality in recent years, but some analysts warn that could be coming to an end. In a June 15 report, analysts at Sandler O’Neill wrote that credit had reached a Jack Nicholson moment: “Credit is ‘As Good As It Gets’ right now.” Analysts from Credit Suisse offered a similar assessment in a June 9 note on large-cap banks, writing that “credit costs have passed their cyclical trough and that the predominant trend is now upwards.” At the same time, the analysts did not express concern at the current low level of provisioning of the largest banks as there are not many signs of credit quality deterioration.
It’s very hard for outsiders to determine whether a bank is skimping on reserves, as it would require a better understanding of the bank’s credit quality.    A bank could be increasing reserve levels, but they may still be woefully inadequate.   Or, they could be reducing them and still have excess provisions.    And, there are differences between the risk profile of a bank’s loans.   For example, Capital One reserves 2.89% of all gross loans, but they are a large player in credit cards, especially sub-prime borrowers.     Nevertheless, these banks are all heavily scrutinized by multiple banking agencies, the investment community, and their auditors.    
Credit Report Black Marks Vanish Next Month
Starting July 1, many Americans will see substantial increases to their credit scores, as many liens and judgement will be removed from consumer credit files.   
On July 1, about half of tax liens and almost all civil judgments — both big negatives — will be expunged from consumer credit files, thanks to an agreement the big three credit bureaus made under pressure from regulators and state attorneys general to improve the accuracy of credit reporting.
In September, the three bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — will also make consumer-friendly changes in the way medical debts are reported.
Studies suggest that people with liens and judgments could see their credit scores rise after these items are expunged, generally by less than 20 points but in some cases by 40 points or more. In some cases, scores could decrease. How it actually plays out depends on how lenders and credit-scoring companies respond to the changes.
Lenders who want the missing data could simply ask borrowers on a loan application if they have outstanding liens or judgments. Or they could obtain the information from the public record.
Starting on that date, the bureaus will no longer display tax liens and civil judgments on a credit report unless they include the person’s name, address and either Social Security number or date of birth. About half of tax liens and virtually all judgments do not have a Social Security number or birth date, which can cause mix-ups, especially for people with common names or large families.
This creates some big problems from lenders, as they will have to work harder to identify outstanding liens and civil judgments.   Lending based solely on credit bureau scores that does not take these items into account could be significantly mispricing credit.   Naturally, there will be products available to supplement the credit file, but lenders will have to rethink “FICO-only” underwriting.     
Uber CEO Out
Despite a board of directors controlled by loyal allies and significant ownership of the company (estimated at about 10%), investors in Uber forced CEO Travis Kalanick out, making a temporary leave of absence a permanent one.
Pressure from investors, who’ve poured more than $15 billion into a company that has burned through billions, ultimately did what the board could, or would, not: It convinced the 40-year-old chief executive to step aside. Five of Uber’s major investors, including Fidelity and Benchmark, asked Kalanick to step aside in a letter to him entitled “Moving Uber Forward,” according to people familiar with the matter.
Kalanick began an indefinite leave of absence on June 13 and left the day-to-day management of the company to a committee of 14 top executives. Regional operations heads continue to oversee much of the company’s business.
Uber’s been searching for a chief operating officer. With Kalanick’s departure, the company is now also looking for a chief executive officer–a far more desirable position for a business leader. Whoever takes the helm will have to plug a leadership vacuum. Uber needs to hire a COO, an independent board chair, a chief marketing officer, and a general counsel. Many of the company’s top executives were promoted internally after their bosses left, including heads of business, policy and communications, and product.
What’s interesting and noteworthy here is that Uber, like many other tech companies, was set up to ensure that the founder maintained control of the company.    But, Uber is burning cash and reliant on continued funding from outside investors.   If those investors are not on board with the current CEO, they can make continued funding difficult.     Mr. Kalnick’s missteps were plentiful:
He called the company “Boob-er.” He argued with a driver about pay in a video published by Bloomberg. He’s said to have questioned whether a female passenger had been raped by a driver who was convicted of the crime in India. Kalanick co-authored corporate values that included “Let Builders Build, Always Be Hustlin’, Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping, and Principled Confrontation.” Uber now plans to scrap many of those tenets on the advice of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who just concluded an investigation into the cultural failings of a company built in Kalanick’s image.
Since he owns 10% of the company, his continued involvement was hurting his investment.   Uber had hired Eric Holder, former attorney general, to make recommendations in improving the work culture, and all the findings were adopted by the Board.    Here’s a timeline of the downfall, which came in just a few months.      Even if you are not in a heavily regulated industry, investors and boards are just not going to tolerate a cowboy CEO and culture for too long!

Effects of scandal linger, but Wells execs paint picture of improvement

Wells Fargo & Co. continues to grapple with the aftershocks of a sales-fraud fiasco. But during the company’s annual investor day May 11, executives touted improvements and vowed to bolster an efficiency ratio recently headed in the wrong direction.

Driven in part by higher regulatory and legal costs tied to the fallout from a sales scandal that erupted last September, when regulators fined Wells and said it had opened millions of phony accounts to meet overly aggressive sales goals, the San Francisco-based bank’s expense base expanded in 2016.

The trend continued during the first quarter of this year, when expenses rose 6% from a year earlier. That increase, combined with a roughly 1% decline in revenue generation that was hindered by customer apprehension tied to the sales matter, pushed up the company’s efficiency ratio. Wells’ first-quarter efficiency ratio, which measures noninterest expense as a share of revenue, increased to 62.7% from 58.7% a year earlier.

“Operating at this level is completely unacceptable,” President and CEO Timothy Sloan told investors and analysts. First-quarter earnings were flat, again hindered by the sales issue and lower levels of lending and new customer generation tied to it. Wells said new consumer checking account openings in March declined 35% from a year earlier, while new credit card applications fell 42%, continuing a trend that took hold early in the fourth quarter of 2016. Total average loans declined during the first quarter.

In previous years, Wells targeted a sub-60% efficiency ratio, and during the investor day presentations, executives said they will build on a sweeping branch reduction effort already in motion to squeeze out billions of dollars in costs and bring the efficiency ratio down into a range of 55-59% in coming years. “We’ve undertaken a rigorous review across the company,” CFO John Shrewsberry said. Wells executives previously said they planned to close about 200 branches in 2017 and 200 more in 2018, among other steps to reduce expenses by $2 billion annually. Mary Mack, head of Wells’ community bank division, told investors May 11 that the bank is on pace to meet the 200 goal for this year and that executives now envision
closing some 250 in 2018. Savings from those efforts are slated to be reinvested in new technology and other innovation endeavors, among various business needs, with the goal of both operating more efficiently and driving revenue growth.

Wells joins a broader industry movement toward fewer branches amid a yearslong trend of customers visiting branches less and increasingly doing routine banking online and via mobile devices.

“Branch visits have been free-falling for years,” Jon Winick, president of bank adviser Clark Street Capital, said in an interview. “In my opinion, the banks in
this country can’t close branches fast enough.”

In addition to the branch consolidation, Wells executives say they now aim to ring out another $2 billion in annual expenses by the end of 2019. These savings would flow directly to the bottom line, executives said.

Mack and other Wells leaders spoke mostly in generalities about how the additional savings would be produced. But they emphasized Wells is capitalizing on advancing technology to improve efficiency in everything from call centers to the delivery of products, including plans for the second half of this year to begin allowing customers to submit one credit application for multiple product approvals.

Executives also noted efforts to increase the use of data to more quickly identify and meet customer needs, as well as ongoing facility reductions, among other efforts. Wells also is reportedly considering business line divestitures. Bloomberg News reported this week that Wells is exploring the potential sale of an insurance brokerage unit that employs about 3,500 people.

In the near term, Mack said that while Wells continues to endure the effects of the sales scandal, its consumer account openings have begun to improve on a month-over-month basis, and customer satisfaction surveys also are now trending favorably. “We are emerging stronger than before,” Mack said. Winick, however, said that at least in the near term, with the cloud of scandal still hovering over it, Wells likely will struggle to grow lending and revenue. That makes the cost-cutting paramount, he said.

Longer term, it could prove difficult for big banks such as Wells that are reliant on loan growth to boost revenue meaningfully, said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics and a bank adviser. He said the strong credit quality environment that banks have enjoyed for years has begun to deteriorate and recent indications from the likes of Wells suggest a trend could be forming.

Wells’ first-quarter credit card charge-off rate of 3.54% was up from 3.09% at the end of last year and up from 2.82% at the end of the third quarter of 2016. Its first-quarter auto loan charge-off rate, at 1.10% of average loans, was up from 1.05% at the end of the 2016 fourth quarter and up from 0.87% atthe close of the 2016 third quarter.

After Wells reported those figures, Mayland said in an interview that the bank may need to pull back on lending in key areas. “I think risk aversion only grows from here,” he said. During the investor day, Wells executives said they had already eased up some in auto lending and are more broadly willing to give up some market share to guard against risks to the strength of the company’s balance sheet.

CEO Jon Winick SNL: Q1 Big Banks in Holding Pattern

Lending by the largest U.S. banks was flat in the first quarter, held in check by a seasonal pullback in demand and uncertainty in the nation’s capital.

Total first-quarter loans and leases among the 10 biggest commercial banks by assets inched down 0.1% from the previous quarter on an aggregate basis,
according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of regulatory filings.

Commercial-and-industrial lending rose 2.2% during the quarter among the big banks, a decent advance but mild relative to expectations heading into the
quarter. Commercial real estate and multifamily lending advanced more modestly, by less than 1% in both categories.

Lending in other key categories fell notably during the first three months of the year, including a 3% dip in consumer lending, offsetting moderate gains
elsewhere.

Analysts say that loan demand among consumers often slows during the first quarter, as Americans ease up on borrowing after holiday spending sprees
and shop less amid winter weather. Demand for credit also often stagnates some among commercial clients, who tend to tap credit lines late in a given year
in order to shore up business plans for the following year, leaving them with fewer borrowing needs early in a new year.

But analysts noted throughout first-quarter earnings season that investors had expected more for the start of this year, largely because of lofty optimism fueled by promises in Washington for healthcare reform, deregulation and, perhaps most significantly, corporate tax cuts.

Republican President Donald Trump, who took control of the White House in January, has vowed to work with a GOP-controlled Congress to get legislative
wins on each of those fronts — wins that would lower costs for many businesses and provide them more resources for expansion, the thinking goes.
Banks could finance such expansion, lenders say.

Trump also has touted plans for new international trade policies and domestic infrastructure spending that could benefit American businesses.

But Trump and allies in Congress have made little progress to date on the legislative front, and the likelihood and timing of major reforms remain uncertain,
analysts say. “There is a lot of waiting to see what happens,” among business owners, “a lot of questions and not a lot of answers yet,” FIG Partners bank
analyst Christopher Marinac said in a post-earnings interview.

“So with the slow first quarter loan growth, right now, it’s hard to tell how much of what we saw is seasonal and how much of it has to do with people
waiting to see what Trump can accomplish,” Jon Winick, president of bank adviser Clark Street Capital, said in an interview.

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, whose first-quarter commercial lending was essentially flat from the previous quarter, attests to the uncertainty.
“Our large corporate customers tell us that they are optimistic about the future but are awaiting more clarity regarding potential changes in tax and regulatory
reform, infrastructure spend and trade policies,” U.S. Bancorp President and CEO Andrew Cecere said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call.

SBA Interest Soars Amongst Banks

SBA Interest Soars Amongst Banks
More and more banks have jumped into SBA lending the last few years, by either hiring experienced SBA teams from other banks, or by purchasing SBA platforms.  
Gulf Coast Bank & Trust in New Orleans is the latest institution to dive into national SBA lending, after buying CapitalSpring SBLC. The deal should allow the $1.5 billion-asset Gulf Coast to become one of the program’s 50 biggest lenders.
“We’ve been one of the largest SBA lenders in Louisiana,” said Guy Williams, Gulf Coast’s CEO. “This lets us step up and be a national player.”
The effort adds Gulf Coast to a growing list of expansion-minded banks.
The $9.2 billion-asset Berkshire Hills Bancorp in Pittsfield, Mass., paid $57 million in May for 44 Business Capital, an SBA lender in Pennsylvania that lends throughout the mid-Atlantic. Around that time, the $950 million-asset Radius Bank in Boston hired a veteran SBA lender to oversee a nationwide expansion of its SBA program.
The $4.2 billion-asset State Bank Financial in Atlanta and the $27.9 billion-asset BankUnited in Miami Lakes, Fla., have also made big moves to expand SBA lending.
While we are encouraged that more banks are lending to small business borrowers, the spike in 7(a) production is a bit concerning, because it well exceeds small business loan growth, which has been essentially flat the last few years.    Clearly, some banks are doing deals 7(a) that may have been conventional loans previously.    Moreover, the SBA 504 program has been essentially flat during that period.
Chris Hurn, CEO of Fountainhead Commercial Capital, observed:
“While there have been a tremendous amount of what I call “secondary market premium chasers” over the past few years, some of these new folks may be a little late to the game.  Many SBA BDO’s push borrowers into (almost exclusively) floating rate 7(a) loans on real estate-only SBA projects, so they can maximize their secondary market premium income when they sell off the SBA-guaranteed portion.  In a stable, flat rate environment, there have been many hungry buyers of this paper at record premiums.  But now that we’re in a rising short-term interest rate environment, SBA 7(a) loans will see increased prepays as business owners cycle out of floating rate loans and into fixed rate loans.  Premiums paid will be lowered, normalizing to historic levels, as well. 
I would expect some of these refinancings will benefit SBA 504 lenders and other conventional lenders at the expense of 7(a) loans, but I also expect to see new originations of owner-occupied commercial real estate loans swing heavily toward 504 as borrowers become less susceptible to accept rising floating rates on fixed assets.  There will still be an active and profitable secondary market for 7(a) loans, as there should be, but it won’t be quite the draw that it’s been over the past few years.”

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CEO Jon Winick on Slow Growth in Wealth Management Forcing Small Banks to Make Tough Choices

https://www.americanbanker.com/news/slow-growth-in-wealth-management-forcing-small-banks-to-make-tough-choices

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