Tag Archives: financial services

87690275

Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator Helps Tech Innovators

Wells Fargo began accepting applications through October 1 from young companies interested in joining the new Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator, a semiannual boot camp for innovators whose technology ideas in payments, deposits, fraud, operations and other fields could shape future customer experiences in financial services.

Wells Fargo will make a direct equity investment of $50,000 to $500,000 in each selected start-up. The Startup Accelerator also will provide business planning expertise to firms in the six-month program, which is designed to continuously attract innovative ideas and stoke innovation across the Wells Fargo enterprise. Company subject matter experts and purchasing managers will offer workshops and individual coaching to the firms. Successful companies may become vendors to the bank.

“For Wells Fargo to work on big ideas and spark innovators inside our organization, we need to expand our access to new ideas at the edges of our industry,” said Steve Ellis, executive vice president and head of Wholesale Services at Wells Fargo, who noted that in 1995, Wells Fargo was the first major financial services company in the U.S. to give customers free Internet access to account balances. Wells Fargo also was first to offer a mobile service for businesses in 2007, he added.

“The Startup Accelerator adds a new cylinder to our corporate innovation engine,” said Ellis. “We’re taking a proven business model from the venture capital community and repurposing it as a strategy for connecting with start-ups whose ideas and growth prospects could add value to our business and our customers.”

Three innovative companies already have been selected and funded to pilot the Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator. They are:

• Zumigo, San Jose, California: A developer of mobile services using a unique combination of location and mobile identity technologies to secure commerce and enable mobile marketing.
• EyeVerify, Kansas City, Kansas: The creator of EyePrint ID™ that transforms a picture of your eye into a key that protects your digital life.
• Kasisto, New York: The builder of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology that improves the consumer experience on mobile devices through intelligent conversation.

In addition to these three firms, the Startup Accelerator will give 10 to 20 young companies each year the opportunity to develop and refine products in a collaborative environment. Applications will be accepted twice per year, with a deadline of October 1 for this fall’s program. A Wells Fargo investment committee comprised of senior technology, venture banking, and innovation leaders will evaluate candidates and select participants. Prospects can learn more and apply online at https://accelerator.wellsfargo.com.

“We’re interested in any technology that could be used by an institution like Wells Fargo to better serve our customers or operate our business,” Ellis said. “Analytics, big data, mobile, security, and infrastructure are all important to us. We’re looking to engage with innovators beyond the edge of our own creative enterprise.”

Dayton, Matt

Tiffany & Bosco Expands Financial Services Practice

The law firm of Tiffany & Bosco P.A. announced that Matthew D. Dayton has joined the firm’s Las Vegas Office as an associate in the firm’s national financial services practice. His practice focuses primarily on real estate, foreclosure mediation/arbitration, unlawful detainer, and bankruptcy and creditor’s rights.

Matthew is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Districts of Nevada and Utah.  Matthew is a member of the Southern Nevada Association of Bankruptcy Attorneys and is a committee co-chair of the newly formed Nevada Creditor Association. He received his J.D.in 2009 from the William S. Boyd School of Law – University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and his B.A. from Brigham Young University.

Mark S. Bosco, Shareholder and head of the firm’s financial services practice stated, “Matthew is a very talented and hardworking attorney, and we are pleased he has joined our firm’s national financial services practice. He will join our team in serving many of our banking and real estate clients throughout Las Vegas and Utah.

Dayton, Matt

Tiffany & Bosco Expands Financial Services Practice

The law firm of Tiffany & Bosco P.A. announced that Matthew D. Dayton has joined the firm’s Las Vegas Office as an associate in the firm’s national financial services practice. His practice focuses primarily on real estate, foreclosure mediation/arbitration, unlawful detainer, and bankruptcy and creditor’s rights.

Matthew is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Districts of Nevada and Utah.  Matthew is a member of the Southern Nevada Association of Bankruptcy Attorneys and is a committee co-chair of the newly formed Nevada Creditor Association. He received his J.D.in 2009 from the William S. Boyd School of Law – University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and his B.A. from Brigham Young University.

Mark S. Bosco, Shareholder and head of the firm’s financial services practice stated, “Matthew is a very talented and hardworking attorney, and we are pleased he has joined our firm’s national financial services practice. He will join our team in serving many of our banking and real estate clients throughout Las Vegas and Utah.

Arizona Centennial Series - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Arizona Centennial Series: Looking Ahead At The State’s Next Century

Arizona Centennial — Forward thinking: Algae, solar, personalized medicine or none of the above? Some of Arizona’s greatest minds look ahead at the state’s next century

A century ago, Arizonans with an entrepreneurial spirit ventured deep into the deserts and mountains in search of gold and copper. Today, as Arizona celebrates its 100th birthday, their counterparts are exploring the unknown frontiers of biotechnology and renewable energy.

“Imagine the technologies of 100 years ago,” says Steven Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “Now, think about how far we have come. Only a very few science fiction writers even envisioned the technologies that are now a part of our everyday lives. It is very likely that (100 years from now), the mix of industries and companies will be very different. There will be subsectors that don’t even exist yet. One thing is sure, there will be more technology than ever to drive our economy and improve our quality of life.”

So with 100 years in the history books, what’s in store for Arizona’s next century? One expert says algae will be Arizona’s 21st-century gold rush. Will Arizona’s yet-to-be-written history prove him to be right?

As part of the Arizona Centennial Series, Arizona Business Magazine asks some of the state’s greatest minds how they see Arizona taking shape over the next decade and beyond.


Economy

Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University

The next 5 years will be a period of agonizingly slow recovery from the Great Recession. Arizona employment will return to post-recession levels within two to three years, but new, more frugal spending habits will put a damper on growth. The next 25 years has the potential to be a period of strong growth. Under historical growth assumptions, Arizona’s population will almost double within 25 years, as the state grows to more than 10 million residents.  Phoenix will have a population between 7 and 8 million, larger than the entire state today.  Immigration will exceed 125,000 every year by 2030.  Over the next 25 years, to accommodate growth, more than 1 million single-family homes will be needed, a seemingly impossible pace of building compared to conditions today.In the next 100 years, the gap between those with education, training and skills and those without will grow even greater as technology will benefit those who develop, control and use it.

Lee Vikre, senior vice president, organizational development and consulting, BestCompaniesAZ, LLC

In the next 10 years, the Arizona workforce will be more diverse than ever before, with wide spans in age ranges of workers and greater cultural diversity. White males may become the minority. Entrepreneurship will be ingrained in workers of all ages who were affected by the recession. This entrepreneurial, independent atmosphere will continue to define Arizona. Homegrown, innovative businesses in the fields of technology, manufacturing, healthcare, and sustainable energy will prosper. The movement towards creating great workplaces will move from a novelty to mainstream as both workers and management discover the competitive advantage of a culture of trust.

Patricia Ternes, financial advisor, RBC Wealth Management, Scottsdale

For the next 100 years, we need to address the concept that the world is flat.  Right now, we have multiple currencies and multiple stock markets. The financial services industry needs to better integrate the products and services we offer our clients worldwide. In 100 years, there will probably be huge, world-wide investment markets that are available to everyone 24/7.  This will increase the complexity of planning one’s financial future.


Technology

Steven Zylstra, president and CEO, Arizona Technology Council

In the next 10 years, the biosciences and renewable energy (and even the broader clean tech) sectors will become significant components of our economy.  Aerospace and defense, semiconductor and electronics, ITC, and optics will continue to grow.  The technology sector will be an ever-increasing component of our economic landscape, leading to more diversity.

Mark Edwards, PhD., vice president of corporate development and marketing, Algae Biosciences, Inc., Scottsdale

Arizona has the critical elements for algae production including lots of sunshine, waste and brine water for nutrients, CO2, and cheap land.  The state has a competitive advantage for algae production and will become the algae capital world. Arizona will go from two firms producing algae in 2011 to 200 algae firms in 2020. Arizona producers will cultivate algae for food, feed, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals, functional foods, medicines and advance compounds. In the next 100 years, Algae will become the leading industry in Arizona, eclipsing tourism; more than 80 percent of all medicines, vaccines and pharmaceuticals will be made predominately from advanced compounds derived from algae; our fossil-based transportation system will transform to a sustainable algae-based transportation system.

Steve Sanghi, president and CEO, Microchip Technology Inc., Chandler

Given this expansion and the number of semiconductor players that have operations in Arizona, the semiconductor industry is likely to have a significant impact in this state over the next 10 years. This expansion will lead to a sharp increase in the growth of well-paying, high-tech jobs in our state. Take the case of medical advancements.  Over the next 10 years, we will see a significant expansion in the use of semiconductors for surgical and analysis equipment; in portable, wearable and implantable medical devices; and in the cost-cutting use of remote medicine, where patients will be monitored by medical professionals in lower-cost regions.

I will, however, add one cautionary note to the optimistic picture I have just painted.  The formation of new start-up companies is driven by the availability of venture-capital funding. Arizona continues to be plagued by a scarcity of risk capital, as most venture-capital firms are located in California, Texas and Massachusetts. The result is that those states continue to attract the bulk of VC-backed startups.  While Arizona has been a technology hotbed in recent years, we must fix this problem if we are to remain the “Silicon Desert.”


Environment

Diane Brossart, president, Valley Forward Association

In the next 10 years, Arizona will diversify its economy through green jobs and technology. Renewable energy sectors will proliferate with solar leading the way. In the next 100 years, we will become the solar capitol of the world. Light rail connects Valley cities. Commuter rail takes us across the nation. Arizona is a burgeoning hub of economic activity. Parks and open space dot the landscape. Innovation and technology abound. Our legislature is enlightened and the green revolution leads to new water sources in our vibrant desert oasis, now free of particulate pollution.

Kelly Mott Lacroix, graduate research associate, Water Resources Research Center, Tucson

Over the next 100 years, our water management will need to be flexible and progressive enough to allow us to prosper in the face of supply uncertainty from changes in climate and the continuing growth of our economy.  Arizonans will have to make decisions about what we value most about this state and those decisions will dictate how the water issue changes Arizona.

Larry Howell, CEO and president of KEBAWK Response Technologies, a Scottsdale-based engineering company that responds immediately to hazardous or catastrophic disasters

Environmentally-conscious companies like KEBAWK are going to continue to grow and have a much more pivotal role in growing the economy in the next 10 years as businesses strive to be as sustainable as possible. What was once a trendy, cottage industry is now a must for businesses.


Health

Dr. Grace Caputo, director, Phoenix Children’s Hospital/Maricopa Medical Center Pediatric Residency

I see medical education as a dominant force in Arizona, especially with the growth of the University of Arizona campus downtown. Innovative pediatric care will continue to be a highlight at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, but healthcare overall will continue to improve our community as birth to age 5 is the fastest growing population in Arizona.

Catherine Niemiec, president, Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture, College & Clinic

In the future, acupuncture and oriental medicine (AOM) will fill the gaps created by high insurance rates, fewer primary care physicians, and seemingly incurable or chronic conditions. Acupuncture can be available for the same cost as a co-payment, supporting the need of those who have no insurance or who need to seek different care beyond what their insurance will cover. A report on “Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States” cites widespread use of CAM, with more future visits to CAM providers than to primary care physicians (with most of these visits paid out-of-pocket).

Kenneth J. Biehl, M.D., radiation oncologist, Arizona Oncology

Long-term changes for the use of radiation in cancer care will involve a combination of treatment directed at the molecular level and immense precision with external radiation. Targeting cancer with radiation at the molecular level has been developed for only a handful of cancers to date. The struggle to find and develop cures at the molecular level will be one of the determining factors in how the people of Arizona will receive cancer treatment for the next hundred years.

Mahesh Seetharam, M.D., medical oncologist and hematologist, Arizona Oncology

In the next decade, electronic medical records will continue to evolve to help coordinate care between the various providers to optimize outcomes. It is very difficult to predict given the current labile healthcare environment.  The concept of universal healthcare is very possible, but with that comes the need for additional providers and resources to provide the necessary care.  Personalized medicine could be a reality in the next decade or two, and this will certainly improve outcomes.


Banking

Lynn Crane, executive vice president, bank operations and services, Mutual of Omaha Bank in Arizona

Mobile devices will replace plastic cards.  This will completely change the “check out” experience at retailers. Arizona shoppers will be able to scan merchandise as they pick it up off the shelf and make payment without stopping at a checkout counter when they leave the store. On the negative side, this transition to non-traditional delivery channels will make bank branches less relevant. Online financial consultants will replace branch employees and a trip to the bank will become a thing of the past for Arizonans. Some branches will close and the industry will require a smaller workforce. The future value of currency will not rely on paper, but on digital data, so heightened security concerns and demand for data protection will prevail.  As a trusted source of security, banks will play a much larger role in helping Arizonans secure their valuables and their future.

Craig Doyle, Arizona market president, Comerica Bank

Some of the industry segments critical to our future are aerospace and defense, semi-conductor manufacturing, business services technology, health care and renewable energy.  Effectively supporting their growth requires a deep understanding of supply chains and related capital markets.  It will take time, but the Arizona banking industry should help facilitate the appropriate capital markets so that Arizona is competitive with other major economic regions in helping companies, form, grow and mature.


Education

Michael M. Crow, president, Arizona State University

Within 10 years, ASU will be America’s finest example of a widely accessible research intensive public university and in this mode it will be capable of operating at a very rapid and large scale for educational competitiveness for Arizona.  In this mode, the university will have deployed its assets to maximize the competitive position of Arizona through its role as a comprehensive knowledge enterprise producing fantastic graduates, ideas and new technologies. ASU will be a critical asset for Arizona going forward over the next 100 years as the knowledge based economy or at least knowledge driven adaptation and innovation to the uncertainties and the complexities that lie ahead in the areas of global finance, economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability and so forth will be such that what universities like ASU do will be more important than ever.  This is true specifically for ASU in the context of Arizona as Arizona in the next 100 years grows and matures into America’s preeminent example of a free enterprise driven innovation catalyzed state.

Bill Hubert, president and founder of Scottsdale-based Cology, Inc., which helps lenders enter the student loan market

At some point, the cost of education is going to have to “normalize” within the overall economy.  For decades, cost of attendance, whether private or public, traditional or trade-based, has increased at much higher than normal rate.  Our business of providing financial services that connect students and families with a broad spectrum of relationship based funding sources will certainly help increase access and drive down overall costs – of program administration, funding sources, and even institutional administrative costs.

Deanna Salazar, senior vice president and general counsel of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

I believe that by supporting community outreach efforts similar to the Green Schoolhouse Series, which makes schools healthy and green “inside and out” through the development of an integrated health and wellness curriculum and green gardens to promote nutrition and wellness in disadvantaged schools, BCBSAZ will continue to be positioned as a leader who is genuinely taking care of the health of Arizonans, in both traditional and non-traditional ways that create a better future for all. For years to come, it’s BCBSAZ’s hope for the green gardens to teach children about healthy eating and physical activity by allowing them to use and maintain the garden.


Marketing

Kristin Bloomquist, executive vice president, general manager, Cramer-Krasselt

As I look into a crystal ball, the marketing world as we know it will change dramatically in the next 100 years. It will be forever changed even in the next 10 years. However, brands will not go away. In fact, they will be even more valuable both in the next decade and in the next century if they can evolve as we evolve, as our technology evolves. Those brands that increase in value over time will have very different ways of communicating with consumers. Everything will be personalized. Everything will happen in real time. There’s a good chance that 100 years from now, as far as commercial messaging and targeting goes, “Minority Report” will be seen as an amazingly accurate forward-looking documentary rather than a work of fiction.

Rob Davidson, co-owner of Phoenix-based Advertising firm Davidson & Belluso

Think of how social media has drastically impacted communications with customers and prospects in recent years. Marketing and advertising will keep changing at an even faster rate as new technology becomes available. Smart phones and tablets have already become standard channels of any marketing plan. Companies who stay on top of the latest marketing tools and learn about their customers changing behaviors are the ones who will be successful in reaching their target markets.


Energy

Mark Bonsall, general manager and CEO, SRP

In the next decade, the growth in wind and solar will continue to be strong, but will still provide a relatively small portion of the needed energy just because the scale of what is needed is so large. It is likely most of the new baseload resources will be fueled by natural gas.  New drilling and recovery technology is providing access to vast quantities of natural gas within the U.S. at relatively low costs, at least so far.  This provides a good bridge to develop systems that can improve the efficiency of solar systems, address the intermittent nature of most renewable resources, find safe and more cost-effective ways to deploy nuclear power, and provide the time for innovative new ideas we aren’t even aware of now.

John Lefebvre, president, Suntech America

With supportive policies, the solar industry will continue to grow and flourish, creating a major employment sector for the state. Additionally, every year the cost of solar is driven down, getting closer and closer to achieving grid parity in the U.S. As solar becomes a market-driven industry, Arizona is poised to be a major global solar industry hub, particularly with the continued development of large-scale solar projects. Ultimately, I hope to see energy generated from solar grow to a significant percent of the U.S. energy supply portfolio and eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, providing a low-cost solution to power our homes and cars. With solar, the sky’s the limit.


Housing

Rachel Lang and Marcy Briggs, loan officers for the Briggs-Lang team of Cobalt Mortgage

The rental market will continue to strengthen with long-term renters. We also see a stabilization within the Arizona real estate market due to the mortgage underwriting guidelines remaining more conservative than they were five years ago, and slightly less conservative five years from now.

Alan Boughton, director of commercial operations, W.J. Maloney Plumbing

As the population in the West increases and the demand for water intensifies by a seemingly unpredictable water supply and snow pack, innovation in low-flow plumbing fixtures could be our industry’s greatest impact on Arizona as more people are forced to live with less water.

CR Herro, vice president, environmental affairs, Meritage Homes

Homes will be built to work better, use fewer resources, be healthier, and adjust to the needs of owners. On the fringe of the market today are homes that can adjust the transparency of windows, extend and retract solar shades, turn on lights, change thermostat settings over a smart phone, and achieve net-zero energy demand. These changes allow homes to adapt to the unique needs of its occupants, offer more control, and waste less energy and resources (money) in their operation.


Transportation

Danny Murphy, Airport director, Sky Harbor International Airport

The biggest evolution our industry will experience is a transformation of the entire national air transportation system to avoid gridlock in air travel, called “NextGen.” This means moving from ground-based technologies to a new and more dynamic satellite-based technology.  While airport delays are minimal in Arizona, our passengers are impacted most when traveling to and from other locations and this technology will greatly improve that. Over the next 100 years, continental investment and enhancements to the state’s main airports will be critical to serve the needs of Arizona’s growing population.


Entertainment

Brad Casper, president, Phoenix Suns

In continuing to operate at the forefront of innovation, the Suns will offer fans the most technologically advanced atmosphere in professional sports, while emerging as the most winning franchise in NBA history. Through strategic partnerships, the Suns will act as a catalyst towards creating a sustainable entertainment and business environment, unmatched by any NBA/WNBA organization.

Catherine Anaya, chief journalist, KPHO CBS 5 News

I think in the next 100 years the marriage between television and computers will be such that we will be doing everything we do on a computer. There will still be a place for television news. However, I don’t think we’ll see it in the studio format we’ve been accustomed to seeing. I think we’ll end up shooting and broadcasting our news via our smart phones or whatever those evolve into in time. As a result, I think it will create more intimacy and interaction among Arizonans. That may or may not be a good thing as familiarity lines will get blurred.

Teri Agosta, general manager, Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort

The hospitality industry will continue to drive revenue into the Arizona market through increased travelers, due to the aging demographic, who will have more leisure time and money to spend. Also business travel will continue to grow as corporations realize people need direct contact with team members and clients to build a successful business, and webinars and teleconferencing do not meet these needs.  Also, our consistent weather will become more valuable to travelers, who will scrutinize their travel spending even more.

Melody Hudson, public relations manager, Gila River Gaming Enterprises

The opportunity for new job creation will become more prevalent than ever before with potential capital expansion opportunities which could result in not only new construction positions, but new positions within the Enterprises’ casinos as well. This potential growth could also result in an increase of revenues for both local and national businesses that supply goods and services to the Enterprise. Additionally, potential growth from not only Gila River Gaming  Enterprises, but the gaming industry in general in Arizona,  would result in larger amounts of funding going to the state for education, tourism, wildlife conservation and emergency services.

Carey Pena, co-anchor, 3TV News at 10 p.m.

There is a generally accepted theory of human knowledge that says:  today, we know 5 percent of what we will know in 50 years. In other words, in 50 years, 95 percent of what we will know will have been discovered in the past 50 years.  That makes it hard to imagine what 100 years will look like.

Arizona Business Magazine January/February 2012

 

Pen, assessment

Assessing The Effectiveness Of Corporate Governance Is Critical

Leading in Troubled Times

Everyone loves a scapegoat. The financial crisis that started in 2008 is no exception. When share values plunged worldwide, companies closed and millions lost their jobs, homers and savings. Shareholders, the public and politicians pointed fingers. Directors of troubled companies found themselves in the line of fire, regardless of whether their companies were the “cause” of the problem or simply caught in the general economic decline.

Following the financial crises of 2000, Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act in 2002. SOX implemented important certification, governance, auditing and risk analysis mechanisms.

Since then, companies have assessed their risks, although the degree to which they have done so varies. Even the best risk analysis would not have predicted the severity of the 2008 economic decline for most companies, at least for those outside of the financial services and real estate arenas.

While many debate the extent to which corporate governance was to blame for these financial crises, all companies can evaluate their governance mechanisms and assess whether improvements are appropriate. The following are suggestions for boards to consider. Of course, each company’s situation is different and should be analyzed in light of its particular circumstances.

Enhancing director qualifications

Many board members are appointed due to their friendship with executives or other board members. Some are appointed to fulfill perceived needs or add diversity to the board along gender or racial lines. While those goals are laudable, they should not be at the expense of ensuring the board is capable of exercising its oversight duties. A sophisticated company needs experienced and dedicated directors who understand the complexity of matters before them.

Director qualifications can be enhanced through appropriate “on-boarding” and periodic training to ensure directors understand the company, their duties and the technical aspects of duties related to compensation, financial risk and otherwise.

Conduct a robust risk assessment

As the recent crisis has demonstrated, risk assessments should include challenging assumptions regarding potential financial and business risks. Is the company focused on capital preservation as well as growth? Does it have access to capital if it stumbles? Companies should develop contingency plans to address those risks if encountered.

Appoint a chief risk officer

Companies might enhance risk assessment through the creation of a chief risk officer (CRO). An independent CRO, who reports to and is compensated by the board rather than the CEO, may exercise sufficient independence to candidly assess risk and efforts to mitigate that risk.

Splitting chairman and CEO roles

Having a separate chairman from the CEO can provide an independent perspective to help guide the board’s oversight of the company; it also reduces the ability of the CEO to control the board’s agenda. In addition, it provides a person with whom the CFO, CRO, general counsel and others can discuss concerns. In the absence of an independent chairman, the audit or risk committee chairs can also fulfill this function.

Independent board advisers

Boards are well served when they have access to and receive counsel from independent advisers. SOX granted boards the freedom to engage counsel and other advisers when desired, but boards appear to exercise this prerogative infrequently. Boards should consider engagement of advisers to guide them on issues involving board independence, duties, risk management and liability. These professionals can be the same as those supporting the company’s risk analysis.

Evaluate compensation programs in light of the risk analysis

Do the compensation programs create incentives that lead to overly risky behavior? Are executives and employees encouraged to preserve equity, not just to create short-term growth that may be unduly risky? Boards would be well served to understand the impact of the programs undertaken by the company.

In addition to ensuring that the companies have the appropriate governance mechanisms in place, it is important to help ensure that they are functioning as intended. For example, Enron’s board approved numerous transactions involving “related parties,” but it did not conduct an overall assessment of the risks associated with the aggregate of those transactions. Similarly, Lehman Brothers had a risk committee that met only twice before the company’s demise. Ensuring that the mechanisms are allowed to fulfill their intended purposes can help companies avoid some of the issues recently encountered by the plethora of troubled companies.

While widespread governance reform is not clearly necessary, all boards can benefit from an honest assessment of their risks, strengths and weaknesses in determining the course of their company’s future endeavors.

money

Johnson Bank Closing 4 Offices In Arizona

Johnson Bank offices in Phoenix, Mesa Peoria and Rio Verde will close their doors on Jan. 8, 2011, it was announced today.

The closings come as a part of the bank’s plan “to maintain the health of the business in the midst of depressed economic conditions,” according to a company press release.

Arizona office closing are at 1850 N. Central Ave., in Phoenix; 1001 W. Southern Ave., in Mesa; 16155 N. 83rd Ave., in Peoria; and 18815 E. Four Peaks Blvd., in Rio Verde.

The bank has an additional five locations in Phoenix and Scottsdale that will remain open. Approximately 12 associates will be affected.

“These carefully planned branch consolidations will result in fewer locations, yet allow us to continue to provide good coverage of the Scottsdale and Phoenix areas and most importantly the same high level of service our clients are accustomed to,” said Russ Weyers, COO/incoming CEO. “We’re making the right decisions to remain a strong, long term financial partner for our clients.”

The banks will remain open until the closing date. Weyers said he expects the impact on clients to be minimal.

“Our client relationships are important to us, we appreciate their business and feel our five remaining full service financial services locations will continue to meet their needs,” Weyers.

merger

The Wave Of Bank Mergers Has Changed The State’s Financial-Services Landscape

The banking industry has plenty of troubles, but in Arizona, the least of its problems is the aftermath of recent mergers. Bankers and industry observers say the state’s financial-services landscape hasn’t significantly changed because of the consolidations. Other than the usual branch closings and potential employee layoffs, they don’t see a big shakeup looming. One expert, however, wonders if continuing mergers nationally will lead to a banking system dominated by giant institutions that no one can afford to have fail.

There have been five bank mergers in Arizona since last summer. JPMorgan Chase & Co. acquired Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo & Company acquired Wachovia Bank and National Bank of Arizona absorbed Silver State Bank branches in Arizona. Mutual of Omaha entered the local market with its acquisition of First National Bank of Arizona, and US Bank acquired Downey Savings & Loan branches in Arizona.

“If you take a look at Phoenix and compare it to other communities, we have a large number of financial institutions,” says Lynne Herndon, Phoenix city president of BBVA Compass, formerly Compass Bank. “If you paint it with a broad brush, while there have been a significant number of mergers, this does not necessarily have the impact one might think.”

The impact would have been much greater in a smaller market, where the number of financial institutions dropped precipitously, Herndon says. But the mergers have generated a few ripples.

Herndon and Doug Hile, chairman and CEO of Meridian Bank, note that the elimination of a handful of players perpetuates the return to more traditional lending standards recently prompted by Arizona’s real estate meltdown and the ensuing recession. Hile also sees a higher concentration of retail deposits flowing into larger banks and shrinking market share for smaller banks.

“Most of the smaller banks are not in a position, or even have an opportunity, to acquire those deposits,” Hile says.

Dwindling market share is somewhat detrimental to community banks because it means Arizona’s large banks are just getting bigger, he notes.

While large banks rule the retail banking realm, community banks are the backbone of commercial banking and likely will remain so, Hile says.

“Business customers often want to have contact with the decision makers at their bank and that’s how small banks operate,” Hile says. “In that regard, the (small) banks that are healthy will have an opportunity to acquire new commercial customers.”

Alex Wilson, senior lecturer at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, has a different point of view. “Your number of choices in commercial banking is disappearing,” Wilson says. “And creativity is lost as it becomes more corporatized.”

Wilson laments two potential outcomes of bank mergers — the weakening of a sense of community and the loss of institutional knowledge when middle and senior management are laid off. “

Well-run big banks know enough to try to reinstate that as quickly as they can,” Wilson says. “Badly run big banks lose that.”

Customers more concerned about fees, interest rates and having a variety of banking products to choose from are assured that competition is alive and well despite the mergers.

“There are still plenty of banks in Arizona and there is still plenty of competition,” says Marshall Vest, an economist at the Eller College of Management. “I don’t think we’re at the point where we have just one or two major players that will dictate fees and rates.”

Felecia Rotellini, superintendent of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions, agrees: “We have a lot of competition. We always have. This is a very popular place for banking.”

Mergers probably have strengthened Arizona’s banking industry, Rotellini adds. “The banks that remain are healthy because of the merger-and-consolidation process and are a testament to our federally insured banking system,” Rotellini says. “Banks that were not healthy were acquired by healthier banks and that was done without any disruption in business.”

But as Wilson watches mergers roll out coast-to-coast, he wonders about the ultimate outcome. “

We’re probably heading for a world of three super national banks and probably a handful of little community niche banks,” Wilson says. “The good-sized regional banks are disappearing from the spectrum very quickly. As a result, (Bank of America) will be there, Wells (Fargo) apparently will be there and there will be Citi (Citigroup). I don’t know who will be left standing. The only ones left may be those little community banks.”

Citigroup, a global behemoth with multiple lines of business in financial services, is struggling and Wilson points to it as an example of the kind of risk that comes with an ever-expanding corporate waistline.

“In normal times, I would say (getting bigger) deepens the balance sheet and creates more international presence,” Wilson says. “But in the face of what is happening … I’m not sure you can make that statement. If one of these biggies falls, the ground is going to shake severely. Bigger is more efficient, but it is not necessarily better.”

| www.azdfi.gov | www.compassbank.com | www.ebr.eller.arizona.edu | www.meridianbank.com |

Custome Fit EDU 2008

A Custom Fit EDU

By Don Harris

From two hours to two years, customized education programs are being offered to boost the performance and expertise of executive-level employees — and as a result improve a company’s bottom line.

Often, businesses struggle with putting the right person in the right leadership position. Even then, there might be gaps between what the person knows and needs to know. Customized programs are designed to fill those gaps.

cutome_fit_edu 2008

The focus of universities is on education, not necessarily training. There is even an executive education program that puts upper-level employees directly into community service through nonprofits as a way to help those in need and at the same time generate new skills and ideals that will benefit the employee’s own business.

Andy Atzert, assistant dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and director of the school’s Business Center for Executive and Professional Development, says the center aids companies by expanding the knowledge and skills of managers and leaders, but doesn’t do tactical training, such as how to write a business plan.

The types of industries that utilize the center, Atzert says, include financial services, health care, technology, semiconductors, automotive, agribusiness, supply-chain services, information systems, and two major out-of-state oil companies.

“There is a demand outside Arizona for the expertise that we have,” Atzert says. “In fact, a majority of the companies are from out of state, and many of those are engaged in our online program.”

When Atzert says customized, he means customized.

“Some companies want a two-hour seminar, others want a customized MBA program that will take two years,” he says. “We deliver the program at company locations, at ASU or online.”

Because many companies have global work forces, the online option is getting increasingly popular. It’s more costly to send a person to an off-site location, not because of the travel expenses, but because of the time involved in being off the job, Atzert says.

Many of the courses offered focus on supply-chain management, which is a business discipline that has to do with how goods and services are bought and moved from one location to another.

For example, Toyota faces several supply-chain challenges in obtaining all the parts and materials needed to build an automobile. Atzert identifies questions the ASU program helps answer, such as what is needed, where does it come from, how do they buy it, how do they decide what to buy, how do they work with their designers, and what’s the best way to optimize their efforts and expenditures?

At the University of Phoenix, AZ LeaderForce is a program that pairs key business leaders with local nonprofits in a yearlong project to help improve the various organizations’ services and train those executives seeking leadership guidance.

Rodo Sofranac, University of Phoenix curriculum developer, says the program benefits businesses in a number of ways, including quality-of-life awareness, increasing leadership skills, and ethics.

“The issue is for participants in a project to take what they have learned and experienced back to their workplace and incorporate it in their personal life,” Sofranac says.

The University of Phoenix, which provides classroom facilities, produces a curriculum and donates its services for AZ LeaderForce, works with the Collaboration for a New Century, an organization formed about 10 years ago through the efforts of Phoenix Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo. Topics covered include ethics, integrity, leadership, critical thinking skills and the social responsibility of business.

Steve Capobres, executive director of the Collaboration for a New Century, says the organization targets poverty issues and enlists the business community to work with human service agencies.

cover_october_2008

“At the same time,” Capobres says, “we have an executive leadership development program going on. We not only want their time, we want to mold them, cultivate them to become the next generation of business leaders. It’s a yearlong curriculum that takes them through the issues of what a good corporate citizen is. What does it mean to work in the community? What is your own leadership style, your ethics? It’s all about building good corporate leaders who are going to replace our older, retiring leaders.”

Among the corporate participants are Salt River Project, Bank of America, UBS Financial Services, State Farm Insurance, Lennar Homes and American Express.

“By taking people outside the world of business and putting them in the community to deal with the issue of poverty,” Capobres says, “those employees are going back to the company to be a better manager.”

wpcarey.asu.edu
www.phoenix.edu
www.thecollab.org

AZ Business Magazine October 2008 | Previous: Big Money… | Next: At Your Service