Tag Archives: money

Calfee06

Cassidy Turley Completes 69,471 SF Lease for 1st United Door Technologies

Cassidy Turley announced it completed a lease for 69,471 square feet for 1st United Door Technologies, LLC at Geneva Industrial, 1016 W. Geneva Drive in Tempe. Senior Vice President Bruce Calfee and Vice President Josh Wyss, of Cassidy Turley’s Industrial Group, represented the Tenant while Executive Vice Presidents Steve Sayre and Pat Harlan represented the Landlord, CLPF Geneva Industrial, LP (Phoenix).
1st United Door Technologies is a Tempe, Arizona based garage door manufacturer. The company specializes in steel and wood doors for both commercial and residential use. Ownership is comprised of the former owners and senior management of Anozira Door Systems. Since 1982, 1st United Door Technologies has been serving Homebuilders across the Nation with unique and distinctive garage doors that enhance the beauty and value of the Builders homes. With over 150 years of door installation and manufacturing experience, the management team is known for providing innovative and quality products at very competitive prices. The new Geneva Industrial location is part of a company expansion.
Built in 1981, Geneva Industrial is a ±69,471 square-foot, industrial manufacturing building. The property is part of the South Tempe Industrial Corridor and is in close to the I-10 and US-60 Freeways. The building is currently 100 percent leased.

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Cole Real Estate Investments, Inc. Announces Tender Offer

Cole Real Estate Investments, Inc., (NYSE: COLE), formerly known as Cole Credit Property Trust III, Inc., announced today that it has commenced a modified “Dutch auction” tender offer to purchase for cash up to $250 million in value of its shares of common stock on the terms and subject to the conditions described in its Offer to Purchase dated June 20, 2013. Under the terms of the tender offer, the company intends to select the lowest price, not greater than $13.00 nor less than $12.25 per share, net to the tendering stockholder in cash, less any applicable withholding taxes and without interest, which would enable the company to purchase the maximum number of shares having an aggregate purchase price not exceeding $250 million. Stockholders may tender all or a portion of their shares of common stock. Stockholders also may choose not to tender any of their shares of common stock. If the tender offer is oversubscribed, shares will be accepted on a prorated basis, subject to “odd lot” priority. The company intends to fund the purchase price for shares of common stock accepted for payment pursuant to the tender offer, and all related fees and expenses, from available cash and/or borrowings under the existing senior unsecured credit facility.

The tender offer and withdrawal rights will expire at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on August 8, 2013, unless the tender offer is extended or withdrawn. If stockholders elect to tender shares of common stock, they must choose the price or prices at which they wish to tender their shares and follow the instructions described in the Offer to Purchase, the related letter of transmittal and the other documents related to the tender offer filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Increase Cash Flow, Reduct Debt

Millennials: Burdened by Debt Today

In a new Wells Fargo study on the attitudes and behaviors of millennials on money and saving,  more than half  (54%) say their top financial concern is debt. That’s right, primarily student loan debt. And 42% say their debt is “overwhelming” — twice the rate of boomers who were also surveyed.

Other key findings:
· Sixty-one percent of millennials consider themselves “a saver”.  The gender differences are big with 66% of millennial men calling themselves a ”saver” versus 56% of women
· About half (49%) of millennials have begun saving for retirement and the gender differences persist with 54% of men saving and far fewer — 43% — women millennials saving
· Millennials (43%) rate the value of their education as “a great value” and 45% say “somewhat of a value.”

Although millennials are burdened by debt, they are very optimistic about their future with 67% of millennials saying they believe they will be better off than their parents. Seventy (70%) are very to somewhat confident that they will be able to save enough to afford the lifestyle that they hope to have in retirement.

black history month 2011

Companies Devote Time To Black History Month

As we kick off Black History Month, Arizona companies devote time for sharing, caring and supporting ethnic communities. Employers understand the importance of spreading the love and have done so with educational scholarships, funding for schools and free entertainment.

USAA

United Services Automobile Association (USAA), an investment and insurance company, offers specific educational opportunities during this month. Classes on leadership skills, how to take control of finances and programs that support growth and opportunity are provided.

Payless  ShoeSource

Payless ShoeSource, a national shoe distribution company, offers the Inspiring Possibilities Scholarship Program, which supports the future of African American and other minority youth. Beginning Feb. 1, Payless will sell a limited-edition I believe accessory for $3. This accessory will be available online at Payless’ website and in 800 stores nationwide. The store will donate a minimum of $35,000 to the scholarship program. The program is designed to distribute about a dozen scholarships to African American and other minority youth for the 2011-2012 seasons.

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble, the world’s largest bookseller, is honoring Black History Month with special events and promotions. They will have story-telling events, various speakers, tables with books for all ages, including picture books and autobiographies. An April Harrison tote bag will be sold; proceeds will go back into ethnic communities. Special pricing will be in place this month to support the learning, economic, social and political growth of African Americans. black history 2011, Flickr, See-ming Lee

Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans, the largest online loan servicing company, is giving away more than $20,000 in scholarships. Five years ago, Quicken Loans started giving away one of six scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to each winner. The money goes to the child’s school of choice to help promote education and spread Black History. Joined with Fathead, a leading brand in sports and entertainment graphic products, they allow children to go online and register for the scholarships by stating why Black History Month is important.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) celebrates Black History Month many ways, but the big talk is John Legend coming to ASU’s Tempe campus Feb. 8 for a free concert to anyone with a SunCard. Legend will have a brief discussion on what Black History means to him before signing some of his songs. Two free tickets are available to ASU students, faculty and staff.

AP and Associates/Phoenix International Raceway

AP and Associates, creator of the Checkered Flag Run in Arizona, will have celebrity appearances, NASCAR race, activities and major sponsors for inaugural event hosted by Second II None Motorcycle Club at the Talking Stick Resort and Casino and Phoenix International Raceway (PIR).  There will be over $50,000 in prizes and a chance to accompany PIR President Bryan Sperber to the trophy winner. They will be highlighting the diversity that motorcycle enthusiasts have along with supporting organizations that work to benefit local African American communities in both Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University (NAU) features a list of Black History events throughout the month. Men’s Basketball vs. Montana State will have Black Student Union students sitting together to show their support for NAU’s men and women basketball teams. Step Afrika is a step show, an art form born at African American fraternities, at the university for free. Apollo Night with Keedar Whittle, a reenactment of the historic Apollo Theatre, will show famous Black historic moments. And  month-end closing barbecue, sponsored by Coconino County African American Advisory Council, will have free food.


Black History Month is a time for everyone to get together and enjoy a piece of history that leads to a brighter future. For more information on Black History, visit http://www.infoplease.com/black-history-month/.

Many Arizona Small Businesses And Banks Say A Federal Loan Program Isn’t Needed - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Many Arizona Small Businesses And Banks Say A Federal Loan Program Isn’t Needed

President Barack Obama has signed a bill that aims to increase small business lending. But it’s not exactly popular among Arizona’s small companies and community banks. They question whether a multibillion-dollar loan fund created by the legislation will achieve its goal.

The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 will establish a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund within the U.S. Treasury. The Treasury will use that money to purchase preferred shares in small- to medium-size banks that voluntarily participate in the program, injecting new capital that the banks would be encouraged to lend to small businesses. The more loans the banks make, the lower the dividend rate they pay the Treasury.

“As a small business owner, I am allergic to government intervention,” says Charlie O’Dowd, president of Westcap Solar, a Tucson company that sells and installs solar photovoltaic and solar hot-water systems. “I don’t think that this legislation is going to be any more effective than the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) legislation. In this economy, it’s not that there isn’t money to be borrowed. It’s qualifying for the loan that’s the problem.”

The new law also gives John P. Lewis a bad taste in his mouth. Lewis is president and CEO of Southern Arizona Community Bank in Tucson, and a member of the FDIC’s Advisory Committee On Community Banking.

“Last January, the committee had a robust discussion (on the legislation),” Lewis says. “The committee said, ‘We don’t want to be a part of this.’ Community banks don’t need the additional capital. I have more money than I know what to do with. I need qualified borrowers.”

O’Dowd and Lewis describe a situation that is frustrating for both and that neither believes government policy will resolve. O’Dowd says small businesses’ sales are slow, impacting their ability to qualify for loans. Lewis says his loan demand is flat because there are fewer qualified borrowers.

The Arizona Small Business Association points to a wary small business community that’s in no mood to take on more debt. Earlier in the recession, small businesses tried in vain to obtain bank loans, but now they are in survival mode, says Donna Davis, the association’s CEO.

“Bank loans are not at the top of their list now,” Davis says. “Some businesses have lending fatigue. They just gave up (trying to get loans). Now they are focused on lack of sales. If sales don’t pick up, if work doesn’t pick up, they won’t seek credit. If they can boost sales and profits, then they can justify hiring and expanding.”

One outside observer sees a triumvirate of doubt that the legislation will not mitigate. Dennis Hoffman, professor of economics at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, says this recession has caused consumers, businesses and banks to lose their confidence. Lacking the good credit risk they saw five years ago, banks have “pulled in their oars,” Hoffman says. Creditworthy businesses fret so much over the economy, they don’t even apply for loans. Recession-scarred consumers remain stingy.

“We need to climb this wall of worry to get out of this morass,” Hoffman says. “This is a market-based, private-sector issue that will have to work itself out.”

Gail Grace, president and CEO of Sunrise Bank of Arizona headquartered in Phoenix, doesn’t sense much support for the legislation among Arizona’s banks, and wonders how many community banks would be able to participate.

“Community banks in Arizona are stressed and many may not even qualify for this program,” Grace says. “You will still have to have a fairly healthy bank to qualify for this.”

Not everyone has a dim view of the law. Robert Blaney, Arizona’s Small Business Administration district director, notes that the law will increase the SBA’s loan guarantee from 75 percent to 90 percent, easing banks’ risk on those loans. The law also will lower fees and raise the SBA’s maximum loan amount from $2 million to $5 million. There are thousands of small business owners nationwide that were waiting for the lending bill to become law, Blaney says.

One of those is Benefits By Design, a Tempe company that sets up health benefit plans for small businesses. The company’s president, Kristine Kassel, says there is a need for loans and it would be helpful if just two community banks expanded their small business lending. She adds that any amount of new credit that can be extended to small businesses is a good thing.

Banks interested in acquiring low-cost capital might be attracted to the Treasury fund and they might be enticed by the built-in incentives to direct new-found capital into small business lending, says Dan Stewart, Arizona market president for Mutual of Omaha.

But then he echoes what others say: “The (law) doesn’t encourage banks to take on more credit risk, so qualified borrowers are the key.”

    By the Numbers
    The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010



  • Establishes a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund within the U.S. Treasury
  • Treasury will use money to purchase preferred shares in small- to medium-size banks that voluntarily participate in the program
  • SBA’s loan guarantee would increase from 75 percent to 90 percent
  • The SBA’s maximum loan amount would increase from $2 million to $5 million

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Executive gadgets

Cool Gadgets For The Cool Executive

 

Getting a shiny new toy for the office doesn’t always have to be justified by how much money it will save or how much more productive it will make you (unless you’ve got one of those CFOs). Sometimes you just want cool gear. Here are some fun gadgets just out that get business execs into the cool zone.

We all know a hand talker. Those ever expressive types who accentuate any conversation with their hands waving about. If you have one of these in your office, put those hands to good use with the Air Mouse Elite. Using your own natural hand movements, this uber-sensitive mouse turns into a master presentation controller. You can walk freely and flail your hands every which way while giving a killer presentation. The cursor even turns into a highlighter, laser pointer or pen. You can even gently swipe it in mid-air to activate embedded media and other special effects. It works with both PCs and Macs, retails for $79.99, and it’s carried at a slew of retailers, including Amazon.

 

Keep your laptop and hand-held devices juiced up wherever you go with this slick new universal charger from Targus. The Targus Premium Laptop Charger is smaller and lighter than other universals, and it lets you charge your notebook, plus one low-power device, at the same time.  The charger comes with nine “tips” the enable the connection between the charger and most laptop brands on the market, so you’re likely to find one that works with your laptop.  It also includes a mini-USB tip and an Apple iPod/iPhone/iTouchcharging tip. Power up in the wall or in your car with both AC and DC plugs. $149.99 at www.targus.com.

 

 

Are you fairly certain you’re wasting time in meetings? Want to know exactly how much is being wasted? Not time — money. The Time Is Money (TIM) clock shows you exactly what you’re tossing in terms of cash as every minute passes on the clock. You simply enter your hourly rate, the number of people in the meeting, hit start, and as your team blah, blah, blahs you can see very clearly what it’s costing the company. Now if only they could somehow integrate this with Facebook … This little guy is $24.99 at www.bringtim.com.

 

 

If you’re one of the millions of people who use their iPad for business, then you probably enjoy carrying it around in a stylish case. Why not let your case do more than just protect the device inside? The M-Edge Method Portfolio, while pricey, is a multi-functional, modern portfolio that lets you organize and carry your business wares in the same swanky sleeve as your iPad. This portfolio is designed with a sleeve that holds the iPad in place, four credit cards slots, a clear ID window, and a business envelope/boarding pass pocket. Two leather pockets are sized to fit your smart phones (up to two). A handy zipper pocket keeps all of your other incidentals. $119.99 at www.medgestore.com.

close up of broken control key on keyboard

Microsoft Needs To Get Moving Or It Could Get Lost

If you’ve been following the chatter among the techno-literati, it’s become almost fashionable to predict Microsoft’s demise. We see headlines like: “The Odds are Increasing that Microsoft’s Business Will Collapse.” At first blush that seems ludicrous to me. But could there be some truth to it?

Not so long ago, Microsoft seemed unassailable. Even now, the Windows operating system exceeds 90 percent market share. Internet Explorer owns 60 percent of the browser market. And Office — where Microsoft really makes its money — still owns over 95 percent of its market.

But Microsoft has become synonymous with “slow” and “stodgy.” Which brings to mind a possible precedent: IBM. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, IBM was by far the dominant player in the computing world. It felt like they had invented the category and they certainly were a marketing juggernaut. IBM was so dominant that there was a well-known catch phrase that went, “no-one ever lost their job choosing IBM.” In fact, it was more than a catch phrase. It was the commonly accepted wisdom.

But by the early 1990s IBM was in crisis. The world around had changed and they’d been unable to keep up. There was speculation that they wouldn’t be able to survive. They did, by radically changing their strategy to one that is largely based on services. Now they’re still huge and successful. But also largely irrelevant.

Could the same thing happen to Microsoft? In the late ‘90s I did some work with them. They were top dog but acted like they were running scared. They said it was an essential part of their corporate culture and was critical to them remaining on top. But now I can say from personal experience that the healthy paranoia is completely gone, replaced with an attitude that Microsoft can’t truly be threatened. The only thing that truly matters is hitting the numbers that determine your annual bonus, and it’s OK to do that at the expense of other parts of the organization.

Now, I don’t believe for a second that there isn’t a level of paranoia building at the highest levels of Microsoft. But it’s going to be a massive undertaking to do at Microsoft what Steve Jobs was able to do at Apple, meaning completely turn the company around. Microsoft’s incredible financial strength gives them a lot of breathing room, but without wrenching changes, they’re in danger of becoming just another IBM. Huge. Successful. And irrelevant.

Benito Almanza Arizona State President Company: Bank of America - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

CEO Series: Benito Almanza

Benito Almanza
Title: Arizona State President
Company: Bank of America

How would you assess the banking industry’s reactions to the new financial reform law? What are the industry’s biggest concerns, particularly in regards to derivatives and less onerous regulation on small banks?
Bank of America has generally supported reforms, including the formation of a new consumer protection agency. While this reform will ultimately have an effect on many businesses across Bank of America and other financial service companies, customers and clients should not expect any abrupt changes as a result of this legislation. The full impact and scope of the bill may take years to be felt, as regulators establish hundreds of new rules to implement the law.

The year 2009 was a tough one for Bank of America in terms of the federal bailout and executive shakeup. How has repaying the bailout and installing a new CEO affected the company’s operations and public image?
In December, Bank of America took a series of important actions to move our company forward. We repaid the entire $45 billion preferred stock investment provided under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), plus interest. A few days later, Brian Moynihan was selected to lead our company. He has a level of credibility and broad-based experience few can rival, having led every major line of business in financial services, including wealth management, corporate and investment banking, and consumer and small business banking.

As Arizona president for B of A, how have you — and your peers from other large banks — addressed the concerns Main Street has about Wall Street?
The industry understands that our well-being is interconnected with the health and vitality of the economy and the communities we serve. It is not in any companies’ interest to put profit over common sense. Nor is it in anyone’s interest to lose sight of the value our industry provides among legitimate concerns about the difficulties of the recent past. Our challenge for the foreseeable future — and I think we’re moving in the right direction — is to reconcile this and strengthen our financial system by working with leaders and regulators in a spirit of trust and goodwill.

In speaking for my own company, Bank of America has introduced clarity commitments within our card, deposit and mortgage services to make sure customers receive clear and easy to understand language about their relationship with our bank. In addition, our new overdraft fee changes went into effect July 1, whereby we will decline a debit card transaction at the point of sale when there is not enough money in the account for the transaction, and not charge overdraft fees to the customer.

Small businesses are having a difficult time getting loans and various lines of credit. B of A prides itself on its No. 1 SBA-lender status. How important is that role in the economic recovery?
With 4 million small businesses customers — more than any other bank — Bank of America feels a deep sense of responsibility to support them in every way possible. In the first half of 2010, we provided $45.5 billion in loans to small and medium-sized companies, well on our way to meeting our pledge to increase lending by $5 billion over 2009 levels, or $86.4 billion.

We continue to also look for creative ways to help these businesses bridge to a stronger economy. For example, we recently announced a new program that can help as many as 8,000 small businesses obtain $100 million in federal microloans through nonprofit lenders like CDFIs, by providing CDFIs with grants to cover loan loss reserves required to get the SBA/USDA loan capital. This is low-cost, long-term capital for small business microloans nationwide over the next 12 months.

What challenges and opportunities lie ahead for the banking industry in Arizona?
Arizona’s economy will probably be on a slower track than most states because of the significant losses in our housing and jobs markets. That being said, there are many bright spots to look forward to and we must continue to make every good loan we can and focus on opportunities that will help our long-term economic recovery …

    Vital Stats


  • Has been with Bank of America for more than 30 years
  • Responsible for the overall performance of all business banking activities in Arizona
  • Graduate of Stanford University and Santa Clara University
  • Member of the California State Bar Association
  • Member of the U.S. District Court Northern District Association
  • Member of the Greater Phoenix Leadership and Arizona Bankers Association
  • Serves on the board of Phoenix Aviation and Teach for America
  • www.bankofamerica.com

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

alan mulally ford

Executive Of The Year: Alan Mullaly, Ford Motor Company

Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company, was honored recently as Executive of the Year by the Dean’s Council of 100, a group of prominent business executives who advise the W. P. Carey School of Business. In presenting the award, W. P. Carey School Dean Robert Mittelstaedt noted Mulally’s exceptional leadership in turning Ford around without requesting government bailout money. Here is Mulally’s speech and the question period that followed. (47:30)

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Money Reigns Supreme In The Arizona Primaries

The primaries are over and we are on to the general election. Because primary elections only decide who will represent political parties going into the general election, they are sometimes seen as less-important races. Many times, the primaries are the toughest battles. In a district that is considered Republican or Democrat “safe,” the primary is the real contest and the general election is the afterthought.

In Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District we can see how this works. It is considered Republican safe. Congressman John Shadegg decided not to seek re-election to this seat. While only one Democrat and one Libertarian candidate sought the office, 10 Republicans entered the race and spent roughly $3.5 million combined in a spirited contest. Ben Quayle won the Republican nomination and will go on to face Jon Hulburd, the Democrat’s nominee, and Michael Schoen, the Libertarian’s. These primaries had 79,011 Republicans cast ballots compared to 27,755 Democrats and 422 Libertarians. It would be hard for a Republican nominee to lose this seat with nearly a three-to-one margin of turnout advantage.

Two of the most significant factors in winning an election like this are incumbency and money.

Look at Arizona’s congressional seats. This year, seven of Arizona’s eight congressional incumbents were seeking re-election (with Shadegg deciding to step down). Of those seven, three were unchallenged within their primaries and the four that were challenged all won. Congressional incumbents went seven for seven in their primaries.

Of the 11 contested Republican or Democrat primaries, eight of them were won by the candidate who raised the most money. The three races that weren’t won by the top money raisers were won by the second-highest money raisers. These primary winners raised an average of $750,000 each.

Usually, people are discouraged by this. I’ve been asked, “Shouldn’t the candidate’s message and platform be the most important factors to decide a race?”  I agree that they should, but here is the reality: If you are the greatest candidate the world has ever known, you are not going to get elected if people don’t hear your message! Incumbency is valuable because people become familiar with your name and it gives a candidate a tremendous boost raising campaign contributions.

Why does money have to be so important? Campaigns are about communicating a message to an electorate. Hiring a professional consultant to guide your campaign, using resources such as signs to build name ID, and having the ability to send out mail, make phone calls, or air television ads are all examples of how to communicate a message. All of these things require money. Without money, a candidate is just unknown.

As much as we would like to root for the little guy to win or the underdog to pull off the upset, the truth is that a candidate we have never heard of who doesn’t have campaign resources rarely gets our vote. They don’t have credibility because we don’t know them. It is unfortunate because sometimes they may be the better candidates.

Green News Roundup- Helping The Environment From The B Side

What do “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, “Pink Cadillac” by Bruce Springsteen and “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart all have in common? These classic tunes all came from the B-side.

When an artist released a single, there were two sides: the A-side, the assumed hit, and the B-side, the filler track(s). And even though the songs mentioned above were found on the B-side, they went from obscurity to stardom.

So how can the B-side help the environment? Well, using the other side of paper can make a huge difference. Especially since the average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. 

By using only one side of paper, we are never giving the B-side a chance. And if others had overlooked the other side, it’s possible that we would never have heard “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers or “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys on the radio or at all for that matter.

So “B”-fore you use another sheet, get “Into the Groove” (Madonna) and write or print on the B-side. It is not only better for the environment, it will save your company money on both sides of the waste equation (buy less and dispose of less), but it will also save ink and energy. Who’s to say the next big hit for your company won’t come from an idea on the B-side?

So tell your staff that it’s time to discover the B-Side!” Besides saving money, it will have the office supply store singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (a Hank Williams B-side hit).

Source: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm


When an artist released a single, there were two sides: the A-side, the assumed hit, and the B-side, the filler track(s). And even though the songs mentioned above were found on the B-side, they went from obscurity to stardom.

So how can the B-side help the environment? Well, using the other side of paper can make a huge difference. Especially since the average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. 

By using only one side of paper, we are never giving the B-side a chance. And if others had overlooked the other side, it’s possible that we would never have heard “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers or “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys on the radio or at all for that matter.

So “B”-fore you use another sheet, get “Into the Groove” (Madonna) and write or print on the B-side. It is not only better for the environment, it will save your company money on both sides of the waste equation (buy less and dispose of less), but it will also save ink and energy. Who’s to say the next big hit for your company won’t come from an idea on the B-side?

So tell your staff that it’s time to discover the B-Side!” Besides saving money, it will have the office supply store singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (a Hank Williams B-side hit).

Source: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm


Using Personally Owned Life Insurance - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

Using Personally Owned Life Insurance (POLI) As A Sinking Fund

Affluent families and individuals, successful business owners, and those engaged in certain occupations, such as the medical or construction industry, all face similar challenges when choosing to invest: They have worked hard to accumulate wealth, and now they want to keep it.

Wealthy investors are driven by the same concerns:
Preservation: Given the choice between risky strategies or preserving what they have, most affluent investors will choose to preserve what they have.

Liquidity: Without access to your money, wealth may not be maximized.

Protection from creditors and frivolous lawsuits: The legal risk posed to affluent investors in today’s society is extraordinary.

Control: Affluent investors value the flexibility that allows them to respond to changes in their personal and business lives.

Taxes: Although we can’t be certain that taxes will go up, the odds suggest they will — perhaps significantly so. Mitigating the bite of the tax man is a top priority for wealthy investors.

To address these concerns, affluent investors and their advisers have many investments to choose from, such as IRA and Roth IRAs, equities and mutual funds, tax-advantaged bonds, annuities and personally owned life insurance (POLI), to name a few. Each of these investments has advantages and disadvantages when addressing the concerns of affluent investors. But what is POLI? To answer this question, we need to look at life insurance in an entirely different way.

Getting the most out of your investment type
What if instead of shopping for the most death benefit for our premium payment dollars, we sought out the federal minimum required death benefit in our policy to keep our insurance costs low and our investment value high? What if we created a “sinking fund” by investing in personally owned life insurance to create a tax-advantaged retirement supplement plan, and much more?

People often don’t recognize the value of permanent life insurance as an asset in their portfolios. Cash value life insurance offers much more than simple death protection.

Consider the following asset characteristics:
Qualified plan and annuity assets, in addition to being included in the taxable estate of an owner, are also subject to income in respect of decedent (IRD) at death. Seventy percent is an estimate of the combined impact of estate and IRD taxes, as well as credits given in the high net-worth decedent’s estate. The number can be higher or lower depending on the applicable marginal brackets.

Death benefits of a life insurance policy are generally received income tax-free by the owner of the policy. In order to avoid estate inclusion, the death benefit must be received outside the estate, often by designating the “B” Trust as the contingent owner and beneficiary of a policy owned by a decedent. Certain types of split dollar and loan transactions used in conjunction with an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) also can be used to exclude the death benefit from estate inclusion. These techniques may involve gift tax implications, such as using a portion of the annual gift tax exclusions.

The benefits of POLI
Structured properly, POLI allow unlimited contributions, tax-deferred accumulation, tax-free redistribution, tax-free withdrawals, total liquidity, no income or estate tax at death, and the possibility of asset protection. This is an extraordinary combination of benefits.

Put simply, when structured properly the investor retains control of all the assets in a POLI account, including the right to terminate the account and withdrawal of the cash value. There is nothing “irrevocable” about a properly structured POLI contract. POLI, when properly structured, allows for nearly unlimited withdrawals after the first year at rates between 1 percent and 0 percent.

Using POLI, unlimited after-tax deposits may be made by the investor to be deployed in the equity and fixed income markets in almost any combination. An additional benefit is that in many states, the assets in POLIs are creditor protected. Asset protection against the creditors of an insurance-based contract owner is a matter of state law. Some states offer no protection for annuities life insurance cash value, some offer some protection for a portion, and others offer complete protection (check with local counsel to determine the applicability of asset protection in a given jurisdiction). Finally, assets invested in POLI are removed from the investor’s estate, while still providing the investor control of the assets.

Life insurance: A cautionary note
Of course, federal tax law definition of “life insurance” limits your ability to pay certain high levels of premiums. In addition, if the cumulative premium payments exceed certain amounts specified under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), your policy will become a Modified Endowment Contract (MEC). If your policy is a MEC, many benefits of POLI are removed.

An “optimized” life insurance policy involves several elements. First, the contract should pass one of two tests for the definition of life insurance, thus avoiding status as a MEC under IRC 72, which generally limits the amount of cash value or contributions relative to the amount of death benefit. To exceed these limits causes distributions to be taxable. Second, in order to avoid estate inclusions, the death benefit must be owned outside the estate.

These are highly sophisticated and complex investments, and you should discuss whether a POLI is right for you with a knowledgeable team of financial, legal and tax professionals.

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010

Antigua map

The ACULA Formed A Partnership To Help Peer Credit Unions In Antigua

Arizona credit unions are reaching out to professional colleagues in the former British colony of Antigua, offering instruction, training and guidance to help credit unions on the tiny Caribbean island expand and modernize.

Working through the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the Arizona Credit Union League & Affiliates has established a partnership with the Credit Union League of Antigua. The term partnership indicates joint interests and benefits, and that’s the nexus of what the industry calls its financial cooperative concept.

Credit union experts from Arizona have traveled to Antigua, which is in the eastern Caribbean north of the equator, to share ideas and strategies for improving services to their members and becoming more sophisticated in the making of loans.

Antigua has an estimated population of 85,000 and was granted its independence in 1981. The largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands, Antigua is about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide. The island has a handful of credit unions, the largest of which has assets of approximately $24 million, compared to one of Arizona’s largest, the Arizona State Credit Union, with assets of $1.1 billion.

Scott Earl, president and CEO of the ACULA, says the partnership was formed last year to enable Antigua credit unions to see what drives the industry in the United States.

“Typically, partnerships are established with developing countries,” Earl says. “It goes both ways. We send folks to Antigua who did some training there, and they have come up here. We learn from them as well, focusing on the roots of providing services to our members. The exchange helps rejuvenate our industry as well.”

Robin Romano, certified chief executive and CEO of MariSol Federal Credit Union, recalls a trip to Antigua last year. The focus was on bringing Antigua’s credit unions up to today’s standards.

“No matter what country you are in, credit unions pretty much operate in the same basics,” Romano says. “Members are members, and uniformity is comforting. Since Antigua got its independence, credit unions have been trying to improve their regulations and become a little more modern. When I say modern, I don’t mean technology. Most of them are computerized. But, they operate similarly to the way credit unions here did 30 years ago.”

What has changed in the past 30 years? Antigua credit unions were only offering signature or auto loans and savings accounts.

“Many had not ventured into checking accounts, certificates of deposit or money markets,” Romano says. “Few were doing any form of real estate lending.”

Because Antigua has no credit reporting system, much of the training dealt with how to determine the credit-worthiness of potential borrowers.

“We talked about different methodologies,” Romano says. “It’s a small island. You can call around for shared information. We talked about the evaluation of credit to make better decisions. In modern times, more people default. They were having issues with defaults and weren’t quite sure how to handle that. I have expertise in lending and I went to six credit unions, making presentations to staff and board members on how to do things better. We also talked about different collection methods. Collectors there have the same issues we have here. We were able to relate to one another.”

The trip did provide sort of a return on investment for the Arizonans.

“Going back to smaller institutions was a way of refreshing yourself on one-to-one operations,” Romano says. “Somebody comes in and they know that person’s entire life history. That intimate relationship was very rewarding.”

Mary Lee Blommel, a member services consultant for the ACULA for 27 plus years, went to Antigua last year with representatives of three Arizona credit unions. One of the Arizonans visited five Antigua credit unions, conducting sessions onloan underwriting and emphasizing the importance of doing a check with creditors. Another visitor focused on how best to provide services to members.

In addition to the face-to-face exchanges, the league arranges conference calls and Webinars to keep the lines of communication open with Antigua credit unions. Topics have included risk management and asset liability management — making sure they have adequate funds to lend.

“We did a one-hour Webinar on risk management — investment risk, loan risk, and credit union risk in these trying times,” Blommel says. “It went very well. They had the opportunity to ask questions. I could count at least 20 people in that room.”

Wall street bull

Volatility Can Be A Portfolio’s Greatest Threat

The up-and-down swings of the markets are giving everybody vertigo. Yet most people fail to understand how critical it is to minimize the volatility within their investments. Besides getting a better night’s sleep, there are sound mathematical reasons. Most people are astounded to learn that they can actually earn a lesser rate of return with a portfolio with reduced volatility, and yet end up with more money left to spend. Although some may find this counterintuitive, this is the message financial advisers should be emphasizing to their clients.

It is essential to use strategies that protect your principal, minimize losses and reduce volatility. Did you know that if your investments are down 40 percent, you will have to earn 67 percent to get back to even? Worse yet, if your investments go down 60 percent, you need a return of 150 percent just to break even.

Historically, with previous downturns it has taken years for investors to recover their losses to get back to even. For example, from the start of the downturn in 1929 (which lasted 10 years), it took the stock market 25 years to crawl back to break even. It took seven-and-a-half years from the start of the 1972 bear market, and more than five years from the March 2000 high for values to creep back to break even. The more volatile the investment, the larger the potential problem.

So how can you mitigate risk and reduce volatility in your investments?
Diversification — It’s a time-honored strategy. However, most people are shocked to discover that despite all the various investments and different mutual funds they might own, after doing an “overlap for duplication” analysis, they uncover surprisingly large amounts of investment replication.

Proper asset allocation — This involves placing investments in a mixture of different asset categories, including U.S. and international, large cap and small cap, value and growth, emerging markets, as well as various types of bonds. Typically, a portfolio having 12 to 20 asset classes is considered well positioned. However, following last year’s “perfect storm,” almost every asset class was down, including most types of bonds (typically a safe haven during turbulent times).

Investments with upside potential and principal protection — Structured notes can provide principal protection, while simultaneously providing the upside of a particular index. On a related front, there are “fixed index” annuities. Although an alternative, I generally find the insurance company’s “trust me” position difficult to accept, especially their “black box” philosophies. Although you could always move your funds elsewhere, the high and oftentimes long-term surrender charges tend to lock you in for 10 to 18 years.

Guaranteed growth and income riders — When offered on “variable” and “fixed index” annuities they can provide a safety net to override actual account losses. One needs to be sure to navigate the various rules, understand there may not be a legacy to leave behind, as well as take the oftentimes high and long-term surrender fees into consideration. However, in the right circumstances, this strategy can make sense.

Multiple strategy investments — These did the best over the last 20 months, in addition to having a respectable long-term track record. Investments of this type vary between aggressive to conservative, and include hedge funds, managed futures, commodities, PIPEs (private investment in public entities), private equity, senior debt, etc. The “buy in” on these types of investments can be a drawback, as many are not available unless your investment account is $1 million or larger, as they can require a certain investment minimum or certain investor qualification.

Overlaying an “advance and protect” strategy — This is essential to help preserve principal, as well as help lock in gains. Although there are no perfect systems or guarantees, for most advisers utilizing this type of approach, it has delivered meaningful results and peace of mind for their clients.

We are experiencing what is being described as “a deer-in-the-headlights” market. The questions on many people’s minds today are “What should I do now? Should I stay the course and wait for things to come back? Or should I change strategies or possibly even my adviser?”

One should consider that not all investments come roaring back. Although the S&P 500 got back to even in May 2005, other investments performed less well. For example, the Nasdaq is still 63 percent underwater — more than nine years after reaching its high in March 2000.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal commented on the results of an investor survey:
81 percent of the investors stated they were contemplating or in the process of changing their financial advisers.

90 percent of the investors with “brand named” firms planned to move some of their money; 70 percent planned to move it all.

86 percent of those planning to change were so upset, they recommended others avoid their current adviser.

No one can control the risk and volatility of the markets, so unless one thinks they can do it themselves, it is crucial to work with an adviser who understands how critical it is to reduce investment volatility in order to lessen a portfolio’s exposure to risk. Done correctly, reducing volatility should provide more consistent returns and dependable growth, and ultimately provide more income and a greater end value in your retirement years.

We are in very interesting times, and many people are now realizing they are in trouble. One does not need just any financial planner, but rather a true, unbiased professional adviser who can help guide them through the treacherous waters investors will undoubtedly have to continue to navigate. The decisions being made today could very well have a lasting impact on the rest of your financial life — so make them wisely.

shattered glass

Wealth Managers Can Diagnose And Treat Battered Financial Confidence

If the past several quarters have taught us anything about wealth management, it’s the importance of routine maintenance, diagnosis and treatment of our portfolios — even if they are ailing. Much like the consistent faith we place in our doctors for our health, so too must we place trust in our wealth management advisory teams.

Oftentimes, it is the most difficult periods that strain our trust and twist our thoughts. When managing your wealth, don’t let fear or uncertainty guide you. Wealth management is not a product, or even a series of products, but a long-term strategic approach to assisting clients through comprehensive planning, solutions and personalized service.

Just as you wouldn’t seek a dermatologist for a kidney ailment, your selection of a wealth management clinician should be based on a long-standing track record of success in certain specializations. Similarly, seek financial institutions with strong, proven stability and those that are regulated and monitored by federal oversight agencies. Finally, successful wealth management relies on the integration of banking, financial planning and investment management with professionals on client-focused teams working together to develop and implement the strategies clients need to meet their goals.

Bad economy, good opportunities
The past six months have prompted fearful retreats to the sidelines when it comes to managing portfolios. Like ignoring a persistent cough, simply brushing the problem aside will lead to further difficulty down the road. The toughest economic times often provide the biggest opportunities, but a bold and confident approach is required. A back-to-basics approach that examines the variability of returns by asset class — a long-trusted wealth management strategy — can be best suited for those who have lost confidence in their portfolio management.

Wealth management as a field has changed rapidly over the past decade. The advents of technology, the integration of a global economy and a better-educated investor have caused an evolution in the industry. The recent economic crisis simply highlighted this new reality. It also illustrates why your wealth management team should consist of those with differing areas of expertise. There are several upside factors to working with larger, established wealth management institutions. Besides a strong track record of success and regulatory oversight by the U.S. government, larger networks of wealth managers offer precise insight on how to best manage your money.

Ask questions such as: Should I invest in foreign markets? What are the best times to buy commodities and what kinds? How much cash should my portfolio have?

While one wealth management adviser can answer these questions broadly, the better analysis and decisions will come from members of your team who are experts in each sector of investment and have access to the latest, most up-to-date analytics and data.

Assessing your goals
Another key element to assess — and this is truer today than ever before — is your risk tolerance. This answer doesn’t come easily, but ask yourself a few key questions: When do I want to retire? What is my desired quality of life during retirement? What kind of estate am I planning to leave for my children and family?
By educating yourself on your expectations, you can clearly report your needs and desires to your wealth management team and, in turn, they can come up with various strategies and tactics for your portfolio.

Also, expect these goals to change. An investor just starting a family is in a far different financial place than an executive in his 50s and vice versa. Your wealth management team must fluidly advise you on what your portfolio should look like at different phases of your life. A trusted adviser and a seasoned plan is needed for every stage of the wealth management cycle: accumulation, growth, transfer and preservation.

Much like that patient/doctor relationship, education is paramount. Good physicians lay out clear, professional advice on the best way to care for your health. The best doctors will also advise you to seek second and third opinions. You should do no less with your portfolio.After all, you’ve worked hard to build a healthy portfolio.

For me, wealth management has been nearly a four-decade process of learning and building relationships with my clients. They trust me much like they trust their doctor. It’s a cycle of service that continues to evolve. As you would with your health, use the expertise of your most trusted confidants to help lead your decision making — it will pay off in the long run by keeping you healthy, wealthy and wise.

money line

Stabilizing Asset Prices Is Key To An Economic Recovery

The declines in asset prices are sweeping around the globe like a giant tsunami tumbling everything in its wake. Equity prices are down 47 percent from their highs, commodities 53 percent and, of course, residential real estate 25 percent. Industrial production, retail sales and personal consumption expenditures are all showing losses year-over-year and do not appear to be decelerating in any meaningful way.

In the first quarter of 2009, the negative feedback loop — the lower prices go the lower they will go — is being exacerbated by the erosion of confidence and the availability of credit. If this weren’t enough, the lack of accountability and transparency in the system is further eroding investor confidence, thereby curtailing capital spending and stifling employment.

As the monetarists and fiscal policy makers rush to shore up the banking system, they have, for the most part, missed the mark. Long ago, the highly levered global economy transitioned from a banking-dominated regime to one that hides behind securitized lending. The off-bank balance sheet structures such as SIVs (structured investment vehicles), hedge funds, CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) and the like fueled the explosion in asset prices as they levered up the system exponentially. As we are finding out the hard way, no real underlying economic value was being created, other than prices would surely be higher tomorrow, which reinforced speculative non-productive behaviors.

The false promise that rising prices alone create wealth is being unmasked as the de-levering of credit and speculative excesses unwind. The plea from Congress that banks need to start lending fails to recognize that the highly leveraged off-balance sheet bank, the Shadow Bank, is dead. The credit creation in the Shadow Bank was 30- or 40-to-1, versus 10-to-1 for the banking system most of us are familiar with. It is not that the 10-to-1 folks don’t have problems; it is that they simply do not have the capital to restructure all the 30-to-1 junk that is choking the system.

It’s about the capital
Nouriel Roubini, a highly respected economist and chairman of RGE Monitor’s newsletter, has estimated that the charge-offs and write-downs may reach $3.6 trillion before this cycle bottoms out. Bloomberg Financial, which has been tracking these charge-offs, recently reported that the number has reached $1 trillion, or about one third of Roubini’s best-guess number. In October 2008, the Federal Reserve reported that the U.S. banking system had about $1.4 trillion of capital, hardly enough to deal with the massive write-downs Roubini, Goldman Sachs Group and others see on the horizon.

The obvious simple solution is to figure out how to stop asset prices from declining further. Although this has been attempted over the past many months, the seemingly uncoordinated efforts have failed. The TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), which explicitly gave the U.S. Treasury the authority and money to purchase assets with the intent of stabilizing prices, instead saw those monies going into the checking accounts of banks. However well-intentioned the program was, it did little to stem the tide in the deflationary spiral, leaving us deeper in debt and virtually in the same position as when the legislation was enacted.

Price stability
In order to encourage investment and spending, we must first have price stability. Asset prices do not need to rise to get the economy moving, nor should we expect that they must. The value of the enterprise over time will be clear and will be priced accordingly. The benefits of price stability encourage investors to take on risk and give lenders the confidence to lend. Rapidly rising or falling prices merely confound and confuse even the biggest risk takers among us and that, in large measure, is why we see return of principal trumping return on principal.

All is not lost, however, as interest rates are down, mortgage re-financings are up and the stock market has attempted to battle back from some very bad economic news. The first half of 2009 is proving tough going. But we are guardedly optimistic that the second half will show signs of stabilizing, laying an important foundation for recovery in 2010. The stock market has its own twisted personality, but if it can move above the October lows the more optimistic we are that better times are ahead.

money stack

Credit Unions Were Well Capitalized Leading Into The Recession

Arizona credit unions are weathering the rocky economy fairly well, but not without some bumps and bruises along the way. More than 20 of the 55 credit unions in the state have seen their bottom lines slip into the red. Even so, conservative and prudent lending policies that steered them away from the risky subprime market, and the fact they are well capitalized, have put credit unions on solid financial ground.

Insiders say the No. 1 measure of solvency is capital, and credit union capital ratios are considered quite healthy.

Credit unions, which are not-for-profit institutions and do not have stockholders to satisfy, nevertheless are feeling the pain of their members who have lost jobs or might even be in danger of mortgage foreclosure or bankruptcy.

Michael Hollar, vice president of business financial services for the 68,000-member Arizona Central Credit Union, describes the percentage of its loans that are in delinquency as “fairly high.” As of late last year, 1.67 percent of Arizona Central’s loans were in jeopardy, compared to 0.5 percent 12 to 18 months earlier.

If a payment is 11 days late, the credit union contacts the member to find out what the problem is. If the payment is 60 days late, steps are taken to ease the member’s financial pain by extending the amortization and lowering the interest rate.

“From a bottom line perspective, we were well into the red in 2008, roughly $6.5 million,” Hollar says.

“The reason is that we put a significant amount of money into reserve for loan losses. Every time we write something off, we put that much into reserve.”

Through 11 months of 2008, Arizona Central had put $10.6 million into its reserve fund, compared to $1.6 million for the corresponding period in 2007, reflecting the result of troubled loans.

“People walk in with the car keys and say they can’t make the payment anymore,” Hollar says. “It’s amazing. We’re lucky to get 50 cents on the dollar on that vehicle when it is sent to auction. Values are down. We’ve had a fair number of home equity loans that we wrote off. There’s no equity in the home anymore. The first mortgage is probably more than the house is worth.”

The goal was to pack as much bad news into 2008, so Arizona Central could hit the ground running in 2009, Hollar says.

Most credit unions have a very strong capital base. Any capital ratio to total assets in excess of 7 percent is considered by the National Credit Union Association to be well capitalized. In the past year, Arizona Central slipped to more than 10 percent from 11 percent, still well above the 7 percent plateau.

“We’re still north of 10 percent,” Hollar says. “As far as long-term stability, there are no issues. We’re not panicking by any means.”

The sinking economy, however, led to some changes in Arizona Central’s already conservative lending policies. Home equity loans that were offered for 100 percent of a home’s value, now are limited to 80 percent.

Steve Dunham, CEO of Canyon State Credit Union and board chairman of the Arizona Credit Union League and Affiliates, assesses the industry’s status: “I think we’re doing pretty well.”

He cites such factors as credit unions being not-for-profit organizations chasing quarterly profits, and avoiding higher-risk activities, including subprime and no-documentation lending.

“That helped protect us,” Dunham says. “Capital at credit unions was at an all-time high going into the recession. Credit unions started out with very good capital, and we still have very good capital at this point. By and large, I think credit unions will weather the recession very well.”

At Canyon State Credit Union, the 20th largest in the state with $140 million in assets, the number of members who are encountering financial difficulties is accelerating somewhat, Dunham says.

“As they have difficulty, so do we,” he adds. “As unemployment rises, more members are losing their jobs or having their hours cut. Real estate loans that everybody thought were well collateralized, with the drop in real estate values, now we’re discovering they are not so well collateralized. We’re very conservative as far as identifying what that real estate value is.”

Like other credit unions, Canyon State works with its members to help them through tough times on a case by case basis.

Even though some credit unions are operating in the red, Scott Earl, CEO of the Arizona Credit Union League and Affiliates, doesn’t expect consumer members to see much difference when it comes to borrowing. However, credit unions might require more documentation before awarding a loan than they did a year or two ago, he says.

At First Credit Union, where defaulted loans have increased mostly for autos, Carolyn Cameron, vice president of business development, says membership actually rose slightly in 2008 to nearly 60,000.
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“We stepped up our relationship building, our marketing efforts, working hard to attract new members and retain our current members,” Cameron says.

On the financial side, Cameron says, “Our very strong capital position prepared us to weather fluctuations in economic conditions. We also added provisions for dealing with increased loan losses. We eliminated construction loans, and we came out with an assistance program for members having trouble.”

Assistance may involve deferring or reducing payments, and reducing interest rates to help borrowers get back on their feet, she says.

What is it going to take to turn the economy around? Dunham, chairman of the Credit Union League, says the answer is simple.
“In Arizona, we need to absorb the excess real estate that’s available and get home building started again.”

Financial Institutions Receive Bailout

Financial Institutions In Arizona Are Expected To Receive Bailout Money

While most of Arizona’s state-chartered banks were mulling over their options for federal assistance late last year, Uncle Sam was injecting billions of dollars of new capital into national banking companies with Arizona subsidiaries. The question is whether any of that money from the Department of the Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will find its way here.

Although there were a couple of exceptions, nationally chartered banks with Arizona operations didn’t know whether portions of their capital infusions would be earmarked for deployment in Arizona, and they may not know until sometime during the first quarter. The capital comes in the form of federal purchases of senior preferred shares. The Treasury set aside $250 billion for the program.

The Treasury purchased $200 million of shares in Seattle-based Washington Federal Inc., the parent company of Washington Federal Savings. John Pirtle, senior vice president and Phoenix division manager for Washington Federal, estimates the thrift’s Arizona operations will receive about $20 million and use it for mortgage lending.

Western Alliance Bancorporation in Las Vegas, owner of Alliance Bank of Arizona, received $140 million from the Treasury. James Lundy, chief executive officer of the Arizona bank, expects his parent company to share the new capital.

“I would expect we’ll get somewhere between $8 million and $12 million,” Lundy says. “That would be a good estimate. We are well capitalized now, but we do have plans to continue our growth trajectory, which has been pretty strong.”

Alliance Bank would use the capital to “support a bigger balance sheet, so we can gather more deposits to make more loans,” Lundy says. “Banks like ours are the ones making loans to small and mid-size businesses. Despite the economic issues Arizona is facing, we have strong loan demand from borrowers we think are very creditworthy.”

Ten million dollars in new capital can be leveraged to generate $100 million in new loans, Lundy says.

The Treasury purchased $1.715 billion of stock in Milwaukee-based Marshall & Illsley Corporation.

“All the funds are going to be used throughout the franchise,” says Dennis Jones, chairman and president of M&I’s Arizona region. “It’s not a matter of allocating a certain amount of it for Arizona.”

Chicago-based Northern Trust Corporation, parent company of Northern Trust Bank, received a $1.576 billion capital infusion. David Highmark, chairman and chief executive officer of the Arizona subsidiary, says he expects enough of the capital will flow to his bank to allow it to keep growing. Northern Trust Bank’s loan volume is two to three times its normal level.

“If our loan volume continues to grow as it has, we will get a portion of that money allocated to us,” Highmark says.

The parent company is classified as well capitalized, “but we knew, based on our growth, that we would ultimately need more capital. This was a timely opportunity for us,” Highmark notes.

Zions Bancorporation in Salt Lake City, owner of National Bank of Arizona, received $1.4 billion from the Treasury. Keith Maio, president and chief executive officer of the Arizona bank, says he expects his bank will receive some of the capital, but the amount has not been determined. Maio says the funds will be used to bolster the bank’s capital ratios to keep it actively lending, targeting small to medium-size businesses.

Other Treasury stock purchases of nationally chartered banks with Arizona subsidiaries break down as follows:
JPMorgan Chase & Co., New York — $25 billion.
Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C. — $25 billion.
Wells Fargo & Company, San Francisco — $25 billion.
U.S. Bancorp, Minneapolis, owner of U.S. Bank — $6.599 billion.
Comerica Incorporated, Dallas, owner of Comerica Bank — $2.25 billion.
Mutual of Omaha in Omaha, Neb., which acquired First National Bank of Arizona, did not apply for TARP funding.

The Treasury gave publicly traded banks the first opportunity to receive capital infusions, with a Nov. 14 deadline to apply for stock purchases. It issued capital-infusion guidelines later for privately held banks, which had until Dec. 8 to apply. According to the Arizona Bankers Association, most of Arizona’s 33 state-chartered banks are privately held and had not applied to the Treasury while they weighed their options as their deadline neared. Jack Hudock with the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions said eight state-chartered banks or bank holding companies had applied, but he could not identify them and did not know the status of their applications.

Meridian Bank of Arizona, a privately held, nationally chartered bank owned by Marquette Financial Companies in Minneapolis, applied for a federal stock purchase and was awaiting a decision from the Treasury concerning how much capital it might receive. Doug Hile, president and CEO of Meridian, is not happy that publicly traded banks had first shot at a capital infusion. He does not mince his words in his displeasure over how the government treated privately held banks.

“From a public policy perspective, it’s not fair to small banks that have opted not to go public with their stock,” Hile says. “We are up in arms about it. This is harming Main Street banking by not allowing them to participate on an equal basis.”

working to revive customer trust

Arizona Banks Work To Revive Consumer Confidence After Market Upheavals

Bank failures are in the headlines and that has raised questions for Arizona consumers.  As a result, many of the state’s banks have drawn up their own plans of action to keep customers informed and confident.

“In a period of financial distress and instability, the more banks do to indicate the strength of their portfolios — the fact that they are not tainted by a lot of very risky debt, that the balance sheet does not have a lot of assets that are suspect — the better off they are going to appear,” says Herbert M. Kaufman, professor of finance at the W.P. Cary School of Business at Arizona State University. “It makes some sense for banks that are strong to emphasize that.”

In addition to other bank failures around the country, federal regulators closed First National Bank of Arizona in July, and Nevada-based Silver State Bank in early September. First National is now owned by Mutual of Omaha, and Silver State offices in Arizona reopened as National Bank of Arizona branches. In late September, federal regulators seized Seattle-based Washington Mutual and struck a deal to sell the savings and loan’s operations to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. WaMu and Chase have branches in Arizona.

Consumer confidence in the country’s financial system has weakened, but Capitol Bancorp has not seen a strong response to Arizona bank failures, says John S. Lewis, the company’s president of bank performance. Capitol Bancorp has 10 community banks in Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson and Yuma.

“There is an underlying concern out there, but we’ve not seen any panic,” says Lewis, who is located in Phoenix.

Concerning the tumultuous first three weeks of September, Wells Fargo Bank’s Gerrit van Huisstede says some customers went to branches with questions about financial industry news.

“The recent news and developments have sparked considerable interest and concern from our customers. Some have asked about their investments, others about FDIC insurance and the safety of their deposits,” says Huisstede, regional president for Wells Fargo’s Desert Mountain Region encompassing Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. “We’re working with each customer to provide the information that meets their individual needs.”

Banks have options to provide as much federal deposit insurance as possible, including the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service operated by Promontory Interfinancial Network in Arlington, Va. CDARS disperses deposits at participating banks into different individual CDs of up to $100,000 each, up to a maximum covered amount of $50 million.

Capitol Bancorp is educating its line employees on FDIC insurance and the status of their individual banks.

“The worst thing bank employees can do when asked if a customer’s deposits are insured is say, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Lewis says.

Wells Fargo builds confidence by “really getting to know our customers, then providing them with the right advice and financial products,” Huisstede says. The bank is reaching out to customers to tell them “they are working with one of the best capitalized large U.S. bank holding companies in the country.”

Education and information are the key to consumer confidence, says Tanya Wheeless, president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Bankers Association.

“Most of the community bankers are being proactive with their customers,” she adds. “Some send letters to customers providing information. For others, maybe it’s statement stuffers providing information. And they’re being available to answer questions. We’ve also seen all our banks put time into training their employees to answer customer questions.”

Meanwhile, Kaufman at ASU emphasizes that American banks are safe.

“The banking system is, right now, one of the stronger positions in the economy, especially the larger banks,” he says. “If anything, consumers are feeling positive about banks as compared to other alternatives.”

As it has responded to crisis situations in the nation’s financial system, the federal government has taken on a role of lender of last resort, and that should be comforting to bank customers, says Marshall Vest, an economist at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.

“Not only does it insure your accounts at banks, the government also has stepped in to provide a backstop for money market mutual funds and it has taken extraordinary and unprecedented measures to fight off the freezing of credit markets,” Vest says. “That offers a great deal of comfort, knowing that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury are there doing their jobs. If they were doing nothing, then we would all be scrambling to pull money out of the bank. There’s no need for that.”

Big money tight times 2008

Big Money, Tight Times-SBA Loans Can Help

By Don Weiner

It may be true that numbers don’t lie, but they don’t always tell the whole story. When the 2008 fiscal third quarter ended June 30, statewide Small Business Administration-guaranteed lending showed a 25 percent decline from 2007 in both total loans and dollars lent, according to the Arizona District Office.

big money 2008

In fact, District Director Robert Blaney says numbers have been dropping throughout the fiscal year, which is indicative of a slowing economy and business owners holding back.

“I think that we’re feeling the effects like everybody else,” he says. Even active SBA lenders have noticed a slowdown.

“The customers are not expanding as much,” says Dee Burton, an Alliance Bank of Arizona senior vice president dealing with SBA and commercial lending. “The customers are, you know, a little bit leery and they’re not expanding their business. So, yes, that has impacted the number of requests that we get to look at, simply because most of the customers are not in high-growth mode.”

Yet a closer look at the SBA’s third-quarter numbers shows some positive trends. Veteran lending jumped almost 70 percent. Rural lending dollar totals were up 93 percent. And loans for start-ups increased 147 percent.

“When the angels cry, sometimes they also sing,” Blaney says.

The upshot for small-business owners is that if they need money and can meet certain requirements, financial help is available.

“Here at Alliance Bank, we look at these type of slowdowns, if you will, as an opportunity to help people get a loan to expand and grow with them,” Burton says. “We’re definitely still in the lending process.”

Thankfully, business owners have no better friend than the SBA. It provides resources for those starting new businesses or expanding existing ones. And it has programs for businesses in need of capital.

When it comes to the financial side, it’s important to be clear: The SBA is not a lender. Instead, it works with banks, credit unions or other entities that make and administer loans. The SBA backs up loans with guarantees, which can run as high as 75 percent to 85 percent depending on the amount borrowed and the type of loan.

“For us, it’s a critical program,” says Lori Stelling, vice president and SBA lending manager for National Bank of Arizona. “We can serve so many more customers by givingthem a loan with an SBA guarantee, because the loans that we do under SBA we would not be able to do conventionally. And there’s a number of reasons for that. If somebody doesn’t quite meet our conventional cash-flow requirements, under SBA we can give them a longer term than we can conventionally.”

“For lenders, I would say SBA is a critical part of what we do.”

The SBA has several different loan programs.

The most common is the 7(a) loan, which serves a range of business financing needs with a maximum amount of $2 million. Another is the SBAExpress program. It makes smaller loans available, but the SBA only offers a 50 percent guarantee. One of the newest is the Patriot Express Initiative, a program that helps veterans and others in the military community with funding and training. Established businesses in need of long-term financing for major fixed assets can turn to the 504 program.

Not all active SBA lenders participate in all programs. Some specialize in 7(a) loans; others offer SBAExpress loans as their primary product. They also have varying restrictions and minimum loan amounts. Many lenders refuse to offer loans for start-ups. Also, only certain active lenders are approved for certain programs, such as Patriot Express. And some are given special status. Especially active and expert lenders qualify for the Preferred Lenders Program, which equates to a quicker turnaround on SBA loan applications.

Visit the SBA’s Arizona District Web site at www.sba.gov/az to find a completelisting of statewide lenders.

The SBA loan process is not that complicated. Take your proposal to a lender and, according to Blaney, if the lender is unwilling to do a loan without an SBA guarantee, they will deal with the agency’s loan processing center.

“It’s as simple as that,” Blaney says. “You have to fill out a couple of more forms for us. I mean, it is the government, we do have a form or two. But it’s not an arduous process. And it has been severely streamlined over time.”

cover october 2008

Before taking that step, however, Arizona small-business owners may want to take advantage of two other SBA programs: SCORE and the Arizona Small Business Development Network. Their experts can assist with business plans and help you understand lender requirements.

John Alig, branch manager and a counselor for the East Valley SCORE chapter in Mesa, says this may mean passing out what a fellow counselor calls “reality cookies.”

“Sometimes that includes telling people things that they don’t want to hear,” Alig says.

He warns that business owners who lack a proper credit rating, collateral and capital do have one thing: a big problem.

www.sba.gov/az
www.alliancebankofarizona.com
www.nbarizona.com

Bad business partners

What To Do When Bad Business Partners Happen To Good People

“He is robbing you blind.” Business owners are never emotionally prepared to hear these five words, but they should be poised for action to protect their own interests and those of their companies’ when business relationships turn hostile.

Recently in Arizona, the owner of a residential property rental company found this out the hard way when she was told by a former employee that the manager of her company’s 150 properties was stealing from the company. A widow nearing retirement, she had made a series of business mistakes, including giving the manager stock in the company without proper legal documentation, as both a reward for past service and to motivate and compensate him for future work. The once loyal employee began to take control of the owner’s $25 million investment under the guise of “handling the details” of the business. He took control of the accounting software program, the company credit cards and kept details from the owner by misinforming her of the time for meetings with the company accountant. She was dumbstruck when she received the phone call from the former employee, but, on reflection, it all made sense. Her business acumen for finding deals on distressed properties and turning them into rentals had not prepared her for the complexities of dealing with a business divorce. As a business owner you need to protect yourself. The following provides some tips you should keep in mind if you believe a business divorce is imminent.

Gain Control
When there is a shift in the business relationship, as owner your first step should be to get back your position of power. You will need to separate yourself immediately from the person causing the conflict in your business. In this case, the property owner fired the manager, changed the locks on the doors, cancelled credit cards and changed passwords to all the computer systems. You will need to take this even further to protect your intellectual property and files. Talk to your IT and file room staff about securing access and tracking of information and control of passwords.

If you are fortunate enough to have your company running well today, this is the perfect time to make sure confidentiality policies are in place and have a lawyer review your company documents. It makes more sense to manage risk and resolve conflicts before they start to touch your bottom line.

Stop Talking
It is tempting to unload your frustrations on your accountant, your tax advisor, other employees and even your next door neighbor. But the truth is those comments could come back to cost you money, leverage and possibly your business reputation. While there are some exceptions, as a general rule, conversations you have with someone, other than your lawyer, can be used in court. Make your attorney your sounding board, confidant, champion and warrior. What you tell your attorney is protected by attorney-client privilege. It is the bedrock of your right to have effective counsel; without it, lawyers could not effectively represent their clients.

Keep Original Documents
This property owner had a bad habit of giving away original documents. When it came time to organize her case, this made the task even more challenging for attorneys, expert witnesses and even business advisers. Making a copy of a document is fine, but make sure you keep the original. Be sure to maintain the integrity of original documents by keeping them free of extraneous handwritten notes. If you write on these documents, you may make your case more difficult. If you want to make a note about a business matter, grab a Post It note.

Hire a Lawyer
You may know your business, but your expertise is in the company, not the law. A good lawyer needs to be the captain of your ship as you navigate a business divorce. Your lawyer may recommend a business adviser to get your company back on track. While this is a “divorce” of sorts, it isn’t the job for a family law attorney; you need an experienced business attorney who has dealt with breakups in the business arena. Get referrals through people you know in the business community, professional organizations or your local bar association. Do not be afraid to ask a lawyer if he/she has ever done this type of work. In some cases, a team of lawyers may be necessary. You may need experience in several different areas to get the matter resolved.

Turning the Tide
How did the widowed property owner fare with her business on shaky ground and her future retirement threatened? Through a mediation process, she was able to regain control of her company and tocarve her co-owner out of the business. The woman is now back in a take-charge position, buying and managing properties. Most importantly, her future is in a more secure place.

Like a marital divorce, a business divorce is never easy but, once resolved, you’ll be able to run the company instead of letting bad employees or unsuitable business partners run you.

Leon Silver and Dan Garrison are shareholders at the law firm of Shughart Thomson & Kilroy. They lead the firm’s Business Divorce team. They can be reached at 602-650-2000.