Tag Archives: Ed Zito

ED ZITO: “We feel like we are all owners,” said the president of Alliance Bank of Arizona. “We like to preach to our newest members of the team, ‘run it like you own it.’ If you have than mentality from the get-go, that is the hallmark that has made us the largest headquartered bank in Arizona.” Photo by Shavon Rose, AZ Big Media

Alliance Bank boosts Valley development, bottom line

Ed Zito began his financial career with the United States Treasure Department. As president of Alliance Bank of Arizona, a subsidiary of Western Alliance Bancorporation, Zito helped the financial institution cross the $10 billion mark in June, obtain a $2 billion market cap for its stock and grow into the 67th-largest publicly traded bank-holding company in the country. Az Business sat down with Zito after Alliance celebrated record earnings in the second quarter to talk about the state of the banking industry.

Az Business: What is Alliance doing right?
Ed Zito: We had a record second quarter and we are very proud of that. We are just a commercial bank, so we focus on commercial business lending, commercial real estate, public finance and nonprofit organizations. As the largest headquartered bank in Arizona, we work very hard pitch local first, buy local and bank local. It’s a lot more blood, sweat and tears since the marketplace is much more competitive now, but we’re hitting on just about all eight cylinders. We’ve had great deposit growth, which in turn funds our loan growth, which has been strong, albeit competitive.

AB: What sectors are driving your loan growth?
EZ: Everybody knows the Great Recession is over. The economy may not have recovered as strongly as everyone had liked, so there is some owner fatigue out there that is driving some merger and acquisition activity. Virtually all asset types or product types and our commercial real estate sector are all very strong. RED Development is one of our biggest clients and we are fortunate to be financing their Town & Country Shopping Center overhaul. Two other notable projects we are working on is we are financing Building 3 at SkySong and we are financing the acquisition of MetroCenter by the Carlisle Group out of New York City. We feel that economic development is truly within our DNA, so the kinds of projects we are seeing in our commercial real estate area fit within our organization’s makeup.

AB: Both of those projects are revitalizing neighborhoods. How important is that to Alliance?
EZ: That is huge. Western Alliance has more than $10 billion in total assets. We see the importance or reinvesting the deposit dollars we take it back into our local communities to spur job growth, re-employment and economic development. A multitude of our executive team are involved in organizations across the state promoting economic growth and development. We look at it as investing forward, as opposed to giving back. We feel very strongly in taking a leadership role in economic development because that underscores our role as the largest headquartered bank in Arizona, but we also feel that it’s just the right thing to do.

AB: How has the commercial real estate space changed over the last four years?
EZ: It’s dramatically different. Everybody who was in commercial real estate back in 2007 got a cold shower in 2008 and 2009. We saw dramatic unemployment, basically no construction and negative absorption. Slowly, but surely, that’s coming back. The beauty of the difference now is that it was a fairly narrow commercial real estate environment before the Recession. The environment now is much more broad based. It’s underscoring the point that everyone’s economic development efforts are starting to pay off because we have a much more diversified economy. So we are seeing a lot of activity in hospitality, healthcare, education, industrial development, land acquisition for future homebuilding and construction, and multi-family.

AB: Does your record quarter signify anything regarding the economic recovery?
EZ: The banking industry in general has enjoyed the better part of three years of gradual recovery. Banking profitability is nearly at an all-time high. Bank capital is setting record level almost on a quarter-by-quarter basis because profitability is good and earnings are being retained. Fundamentally, the cooperation with the regulatory community in building a more stable and sustainable banking environment has been successful. I do think we are seeing banks marching to the beat of the regulatory drum, but also realizing that the capital base that is needed given the risks and challenges that we face daily are important to be sound, stable, prudent, enabling, but also mindful of the risks that are involved. So there is a good balance being struck right now and the earnings are reflective of that.

AB: Will the increase in the use of mobile banking mean the end for brick-and-mortar banks?
EZ: Not really. As a commercial bank, it’s important to be close to our customers. I have a saying: When someone asks, “Where is your office?” I answer, “Wherever my customer or prospect needs it to be.” We just opened a new office at Loop 101 and Ray Road to serve the rapidly growing Southeast Valley and we are hoping to purchase a piece of land in Gilbert to build more offices. We are trying to go where the business community is growing. We already have a number of offices in Phoenix and Tucson and we will always go where our customers need us.

AB: What are your goals for Alliance over the next five years?
EZ: We are a growth-oriented and goal-oriented organization. Alliance Bank of Arizona opened in 2003 and will celebrate our 12th anniversary in February. Western Alliance, currently a $10 billion bank, will likely grow into a $15 billion or $20 billion bank over the next five years because of organic growth and acquisitions.

bank loan

Alliance Breaks Ground on Flagstaff Banking Center

Alliance Bank of Arizona, the state’s largest locally owned and headquartered bank, broke ground Friday on a new multimillion-dollar Flagstaff banking center.  Alliance Bank of Arizona President Ed Zito hosted the groundbreaking event with Executive Vice President Sherri Slayton. The event was also attended by Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours and President and CEO of the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, Julie Pastrick.

“Since we opened our first branch in Flagstaff eight years ago, we have been committed to fueling our local economy,” said Sherri Slayton, EVP and Regional Manager of the bank’s Northern Arizona division. “As a long-time resident and banker in this area, I am especially excited to see Flagstaff businesses rebound and flourish. Our Flagstaff team, with experienced local bankers who know this region, is proud to serve the people who make Flagstaff the extraordinary community we call home.”

“Today’s groundbreaking is testimony to the strength of the Flagstaff Alliance Bank team,” said Julie Pastrick, President and CEO of the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce.  “Under the leadership of Sherri Slayton, they have consistently demonstrated a high level of financial acumen and community outreach that allows for this large investment in our local Flagstaff community.”

The 6,000-square-foot center marks the bank’s significant expansion in the area and the region. The facility is an extension of Alliance Bank’s growth in key business markets as home to a large number of commercial and industrial businesses, enabling the bank to better serve Flagstaff customers.  It is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014.

Alliance Bank, which started with a single office and 20 employees in 2003, is now the largest locally owned and headquartered bank in the state with $3.3 billion in assets. A leading business lender, it has built a reputation for its responsiveness, local expertise and reliability as a lending resource.

Alliance Bank of Arizona is a division of Phoenix-based Western Alliance Bank.

Kyrsten Sinema

AzBA Brings Regulatory Burden to Sinema

Seldom will you find a Member of Congress spending his or her few days out of session at a community bank.  That’s just where freshman U.S. Representative Kyrsten Sinema spent Wednesday afternoon. “It’s our job in Congress to strike the appropriate balance between a secure banking industry and adequate access to capital for families and small businesses,” said Sinema.  “In order to fortify the banking community –a core component of Arizona’s economy – we must strengthen access to capital for middle class families as well as review the impacts of regulatory burdens.”

The Arizona Bankers Association brought Representative Sinema to Arizona Bank & Trust in Phoenix on Wednesday.  Bank President and CEO, Jerry Schwallier, said “[t]his was a great opportunity to demonstrate to Arizona’s only banking committee Member how the decisions made  in Congress impact the people we serve in Arizona.  I wish more public officials would take the time to do what Ms. Sinema did today.”

Community bank presidents Gail Grace, Sunrise Bank; Mike Thorell, Pinnacle Bank; and Ed Zito, Alliance Bank, all attended the briefing along with Paul Hickman, CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association.  Hickman commented, “[t]he community banking industry in Arizona today is facing increased pressure on all fronts.  Our association’s highest priority is to help both banks and entire communities by acting as their liaison to the government.”

The industry is working to grow the economy in the wake of the 2008 recession while also responding to the most comprehensive banking reform law of modern times.  The Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 is 2,319 pages long.  By comparison, the last major banking industry reform law – Gramm Leach Bliley – was 144 pages.  The Dodd Frank Act directs 398 separate rulemakings, of which 148 have been finalized, 121 are in some form of promulgation and 129 have yet to be even proposed.