Tag Archives: Biltmore Bank of Arizona

Lehmann

Leadership spotlight: Richard Lehmann

Richard Lehmann
Founder and chairman
The Biltmore Bank of Arizona
biltmorebankaz.com

“After being associated with large national and international banks since 1969, myself and other banking leaders founded the Biltmore Bank of Arizona in 2003 with a singular mission: to work with Arizona businesses face-to-face, ensuring we’re an integral part of each client’s growth – and the growth of Arizona’s economy.”

Biggest challenge: “In my 44 years in banking, I have never experienced a more severe economic downturn than the past five years – with a disproportionate impact on small, community banks. We overcame it thanks to our team, clients and a 2012 agreement with Grandpoint Capital for a capital investment, enabling us to expand our banking capabilities.”

Best advice received: “Always try to hire people who are smarter than you; and always pay attention to the details. After all, the devil is in those details.”

Best advice to offer: “Once you hire those smart people noted above, you must be smart in the way you treat and motivate them. Use care. Be respectful. Encourage teamwork. To be a successful leader, you must recognize that a business won’t prosper long term solely based on individual success, but on the team.”

Biggest accomplishment: “Through the late 80s/early 90’s, I helped lead the turnaround of Valley National Bank. All these years later, I am most proud that I have been able to use the tools I learned during that turnaround to ensure the long-term viability of the Biltmore Bank, despite this recent economic downturn.”

Prepare loan package, secure loan

Small businesses get loans in record numbers

A common complaint since the financial crisis began was that some of the Wall Street banks that were being bailed out by the federal government weren’t doing enough to help the mom-and-pop shops on Main Street.

“In 2008 when the recession hit, the impact on small business lending was pretty catastrophic,” said Greg Lehmann, managing director of Biltmore Bank of Arizona. “Not only did you have small businesses struggling with lost revenue and weakening balance sheets, but all the banks were retrenching and looking inward.  The unique element about the Recession was that it hit every business sector; small business, large businesses, banks, etc. Nobody was immune to its impact.”

In 2013, small business owners and entrepreneurs have a little more reason for optimism. So far this year, big banks are approving small business loans at the highest rate in more than two years, according to Biz2Credit, which calculates its monthly Small Business Lending Index using 1,000 loan applications made over its online lending platform.

“With an improving economy, Wells Fargo is growing new lending commitments, providing more dollars to help small businesses stay competitive today and for the long term,” said Jennifer Anderson, business banking manager for Wells Fargo Arizona. “The business owners who see increased demand for their products and services are investing in their businesses now. As business owners become more confident and find more opportunities to grow and improve their businesses, we expect to do more business.”

Wells Fargo literally puts its money where its mouth is. According to SNL Financial, the bank was the nation’s largest lender to small business in 2012, lending $32.8 billion to small businesses.

But Wells Fargo isn’t alone. If you look at recent reports, small business lending is up across the board:

* Biz2Credit found that big banks — those with more than $10 billion in assets — approved 15.9 percent of the small business loan applications in February 2013, up from 11.7 percent in February 2012. Small bank approval rates have also ticked up — 50.3 percent in February, up from 47.6 percent in February 2012.
* Government-guaranteed loans have increased 6 percent year-over-year in fiscal 2013. That represents $9.2 billion, an 18 percent increase over the dollars approved during the same period a year ago. Approvals in the last two years have set Small Business Administration records.

Despite the positive reports, the general belief is that small businesses aren’t getting loans, which isn’t true, said Dee H. Burton, executive vice president of Alliance Bank of Arizona.

“Yes, small businesses can get loans now,” Burton said. “At Alliance Bank, we have always been actively engaged in lending to small business — and we never stopped lending even through the toughest times of the Recession.”

What about the perception that lending standards have changed or tightened? That’s another misperception, bankers said.

“General underwriting guidelines have not really changed over the years,” Burton said. “Unfortunately, the Recession has made it more challenging for businesses to qualify. For most businesses, a reduction in revenue may have resulted in a negative impact on cash flow or resulted in a more leveraged balance sheet. Further, the value of assets which banks often look to take as collateral — equipment, real estate, accounts receivable, etc. — are not at the levels they were pre-Recession. All-in-all, these factors have impacted small businesses’ ability to meet the typical standards under which banks underwrite business loans.”

While Lehmann said banks were more willing to bend on some of the fundamentals prior to the Recession, he said banks always look to cash flow, collateral, and capital levels to make a credit decision.

At Wells Fargo, Anderson said lending standards have remained consistent. Before the bank extends credit, it looks for a business to show:

* Steady cash flow. Cash flow is a key indicator of a business’ financial health and its future prospects. When it can show reliable cash flow, we can see it has the resources to repay new loans.
* Debt load is manageable. Banks want to make sure a business has the ability to take on additional debt and is in a strong financial position to manage its debt payments.
* Good payment history. Payment history provides an important record of its ability to responsibly pay down debt.

As for lines of credit for small businesses, Ward Hickey, business banking manager for National Bank of Arizona, said, “Small business lines of credit are based on  business cash flow and collateral values. As both of these improve for small businesses in Arizona, the underwriting standards will ease and more small business lines of credit will be available.”

As the economy in Arizona continues to strengthen, bankers see a better environment for small business.

“We can point to a number of positive signs in small business lending,” Anderson said. “There is more small business activity in our stores, more small businesses are applying for credit, and loan delinquencies continue to decline.”

As businesses shift from survival mode to growth mode, the outlook for lending to small and medium-sized businesses — which Lehmann called “the life blood of the Arizona economy” — continues to be positive, which will help small businesses grow and add workers.

“Arizona will continue to be a growth state and businesses that have survived this Recession will be able to grow as the state continues to grow,” Burton said. “We see businesses are now investing in items such as new equipment and new expansion, which had been put on hold during the Recession. Businesses are also taking advantage of the current interest rate environment to fund their expansion.”

Lehmann agreed.

“As the economy continues to heal and grow,” he said, “so will the small businesses of Arizona.”

gaia

Biltmore Bank Sponsors Start-Up Competition

Biltmore Bank of Arizona, a premier community bank headquartered in Arcadia along the Camelback Corridor that is focused on the needs of the small and medium-sized business, announced that it has joined Tallwave, a lean business accelerator and venture management firm also located in Scottsdale, for the first-ever “High Tide” Start-Up Competition.  High Tide is focused on commercializing new sustainable ventures in Arizona by bringing validated companies to willing and motivated capital sources.

“High Tide is the only startup competition in the Southwest, applying lean business and design validation principles to identify, develop and commercialize rapid-growth startups,” said Jeff Gaia, CEO and president of the Biltmore Bank of Arizona. “Through our sponsorship of this innovative program, we believe we can help connect the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Arizona as well as assist startups in becoming become viable, scalable and sustainable growth companies.”

Thus far in the competition, High Tide has selected and celebrated 20 companies throughout the Southwest to participate in its “Phase One: Validation” program, which examines viability of each venture. Six of these 20 companies have since been announced as finalists and have now moved to the “Phase Two: Acceleration” program, which assesses product-market fit and go-to-market commercialization.

The finalists – four of whom are from Arizona – are:
Convrrt from Chandler
Creative Allies from Santa Monica, California
GreenRx from Denver, Colorado
HiringSolved from Chandler
LocalWork.com from Phoenix
SaveOnCouriers.com from Phoenix

Each High Tide finalist will receive a cash grant of $15,000 for use in company operational expenses and an additional $35,000 in scholarships for either “Product Market Fit” or “Go To Market” services from Tallwave. There is no cost to entrepreneurs selected to participate in the High Tide program. For more information, visit www.TallwaveHighTide.com.

“As a High Tide sponsor, Biltmore Bank has visibility into Arizona’s most exciting and promising startup and early-stage ventures,” said Jeffrey Pruitt, Tallwave chairman and CEO. “Entrepreneurs need the help of community leaders such as Biltmore Bank and we applaud their support of the next captains of industry.”

A Guide to Applying for a Bank Loan

Are Arizona banks lending?

Are they or aren’t they?

Banks can only stay in business by making loans, not turning away customers who want to borrow money. So why does the public believe that banks aren’t lending?

“The truth of the matter is that when things were really bad a few years ago, banks weren’t lending,” said Robert Sarver, CEO of Western Alliance Bancorporation. “The banking business, not unlike other businesses, tend to react and overreact and sometime we react too much when times are good and we lend too much money on too liberal terms, and when times are tough, we don’t lend enough money and are too conservative.”

Banks are a business — a unique kind of business — that is under significant pressure to make a profit like any other like any other business. A typical bank, in healthy years, should earn a return on assets (ROA) of 1.1 percent to 1.5 percent. That translates into an return on equity (ROE), because of leverage, of anywhere between 8 percent and 18 percent, similar to most other businesses.

A bank makes its money by investing deposits into either securities or loans, both of which earn a return. Typically, loans earn more than securities and both earn more than what banks pay out to depositors. Although loans earn more, they come with a credit loss rate that a securities portfolio generally does not have. In 2009, in the depths of the economic crisis, a typical bank had a loan loss rate of 1.73 percent on its loan portfolio, which ate into the profitability of the bank. So what does a bank to do when it incurs such high loss rates in its loan portfolio? It invests in fewer loans.

But that is changing. Banks have increased their lending for four of the last five quarters, but Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) acting chairman Martin Gruenberg, is still taking a ”wait and see if the trend toward increased lending can be sustained” approach.

“Banks are lending today, and most banks have excess liquidity that they would prefer to put out in loans,” said Keith Maio, president and Chief Executive Officer of National Bank of Arizona. “Those that feel that banks aren’t lending are likely those who have had their credit compromised in recent years. Loan demand is down from consumers and businesses particularly, since the recession. The recession has caused many personal borrowers to be more conservative in their approach to leverage. Businesses tend to increase borrowing when their revenues are increasing and they need to finance that growth.”

Sarver said that banks do want to lend, “but unfortunately there is a lot of regulation in our industry, which to a certain degree has stifled long-term growth because our capital requirements have almost doubled over the last five years, so that’s been another barrier to banks lending money.”

As an outgrowth of those regulatory changes, lending standards have tightened in certain consumer loan categories like mortgages, experts said. But while mortgage rules have changed, lending standards for business haven’t seen dramatic shifts.

“Commercial lending standards for owner-occupied real estate and commercial and industrial loans have not changed much,” said Kevin Sellers, executive vice president with First Fidelity Bank in Arizona. “For investment property loans, banks are requiring owners to maintain more equity capital in the properties and higher net operating income relative to the property debt service.”

According to Adam White, senior vice president of credit administration at Biltmore Bank of Arizona, bankers have always used the “Five C’s of Credit” to determine if a business is credit worthy.  Those included:
1. Cash flow – history of positive cash flows and probability of recurring
2. Collateral – adequate collateral support
3. Capital – adequate capital to support normal business operations
4. Conditions – what’s affecting the business
5. Character – who are the people behind the business

“In today’s environment, banks emphasize ALL five elements,” White said, “whereas in the past too much reliance may have been placed upon appreciating collateral values under unsustainable market conditions.”

Kevin Halloran, Arizona state president of Mutual of Omaha Bank, said that while there have been shifts in the requirements banks are setting for lending, he sees the industry taking steps toward normalcy.

“I believe lending standards have returned to the original norm,” he said. “In the early to mid-2000s, the banking industry required only limited borrower documentation relating to income and other basic information for residential loans. Now, the industry is requesting proper information to make sound decisions.”

On the business lending side of the equation, “lending standards over the past 10 months have loosened in both pricing and structure for both large and small companies,” Halloran said.

And while some banks have pulled back lending activity, it’s definitely not the case at many Arizona banks.

“Loans at our company have grown 8 percent this year and in discussions with my colleagues at other financial institutions in the Valley, they are experiencing similar results,” said Dave Ralston, chairman and CEO of Bank of Arizona. “Loans are the lifeblood of a bank and at Bank of Arizona. loan growth is our number one priority.  We are seeing increasing demand from credit-worthy consumers and businesses in the Valley.”

Halloran echoed Ralston’s observations.

“Over the past three years, we have completed more than $500 million in new loans in Arizona,” Halloran said. “That includes commercial loans and commercial real estate financing across multiple industries, as well as private banking loans and residential mortgages. Our local commercial banking group has provided local businesses with working capital, revolving lines of credit, equipment loans, owner-occupied loans and merger and acquisition loans. Our commercial real estate group has provided loans in industrial, multi-family, senior and student housing, charter schools and multiple other real estate segments. So we have been – and will continue to be – a very active lender.”

A positive result in the changes in lending banks have been forced to examine in the wake of the Recession is that bank have learned lessons that will create a stronger business model for the industry.

“Banks need to consistently monitor their concentrations in all lending sectors and understand they can only provide so much capital to any one industry,” Halloran said. “Arizona’s population grew so much over the past decade that it resulted in a substantial need for real estate lending. The concentration Arizona banks had in real estate negatively affected all Arizona banks.  In the future, I believe all banks will be better at managing their overall balance sheet risk as a percentage of capital.”

MAC

2012 MAC Social Responsibility: Biltmore Bank of Arizona

Brightest Stars

Four companies take the spotlight among Most Admired Companies in Arizona

On Sept. 5, AZ Business magazine and BestCompaniesAZ honored 40 of the most innovative and exceptional companies in Arizona at the third annual Most Admired Companies Awards at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix.

In addition to being honored with MAC Awards, four companies were singled out as spotlight winners in the categories of  leadership excellencesocial responsibilitycustomer opinion and workplace culture.

Social Responsibility: Biltmore Bank of Arizona

Biltmore bank CEO Jeff Gaia says, “Our commitment to our community is an integral part of our business strategy,” and the bankers put their money where their mouths are. Founder Richard J. Lehmann serves on the Knight Transportation Company Board, the TGen Foundation Board, and the Mayo Clinic Advisory Board. Senior Credit Officer John T. Byrd has served on the boards of the Valley of the Sun YMCA, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Valley of the Sun Communities in Schools, Midtown Rotary Club, and he has been active in Junior Achievement, and Friends of Mexican Art. For more than a decade, CFO Paige Mulhollan has volunteered nearly 40 Saturdays a year to Habitat for Humanity of Arizona and even brought the entire office out for weekends of volunteerism to experience giving back. Managing Director Greg Lehmann is a member EC70, a group devoted to raising millions of dollars for children’s organizations, including Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Boys & Girls Clubs and UMOM New Day Centers.

Video by Cory Bergquist

BBABiltmore Bank of Arizona
Arizona base: Phoenix
Arizona leadership: Jeff Gaia, chairman and CEO
Years in Arizona: 9
Employees in Arizona: 50
Fast fact: For more than a decade, CFO Paige Mulhollan has volunteered nearly 40 Saturdays a year to Habitat for Humanity of Arizona.
Web: biltmorebankaz.com


2012 Most Admired Companies Award Winners & Photos

MAC 2012 - View all photos