Tag Archives: Mutual of Omaha Bank

David Van Slyke

Mutual of Omaha Bank Announces Phoenix Appointment

David Van Slyke has joined Mutual of Omaha Bank as vice president of commercial banking in Phoenix. Based out of the bank’s Arizona headquarters at 9200 E. Pima Center Parkway in Scottsdale, Van Slyke will work with local businesses, offering comprehensive commercial banking services, including commercial deposit accounts, treasury services and full-scale commercial and industrial financing.

Van Slyke brings over 25 years of experience to Mutual of Omaha Bank, most recently serving as vice president with the business banking group for a large, national bank in Arizona.

Van Slyke earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Arizona State University. He holds a Certificate of Mastery for Business Process Reengineering and is a licensed pilot.

Van Slyke is involved in the community as an advisory board member for Steps of Faith, a non-profit women’s health organization in Phoenix. He also has served as a panel member for the Phoenix chapter of the American Institute of Architects, on the Membership Committee for Valley Partnership and teaches classes in the community on sustainability, urban farming and organic food.

Mutual of Omaha Bank is a full-service bank providing financial solutions to individuals and businesses across the United States. With nearly $6 billion in assets, Mutual of Omaha Bank is a subsidiary of Mutual of Omaha, a Fortune 500 insurance and financial services company founded in 1909. For more information about Mutual of Omaha Bank, visit www.mutualofomahabank.com.

housing.prices

Bankers: Don't try to time the market

Timing is everything.

But when it comes to buying a house, Valley banking leaders says it’s best not to rely too much on timing.

“Potential buyers who are still on the sidelines waiting for housing prices to decline further may see themselves priced out of the market if interest rates rise,” says Carl Streicher, regional sales executive at Bank of America. “Timing the market is risky in that we never really know when the bottom has hit until it has passed us by. Also, buyers should be sure they are ready financially and personally to own a home before they purchase, so timing the market shouldn’t be the sole driver of a home purchase.”

According to Streicher, home affordability is at an all-time high, interest rates are at historic lows and home values are increasing. According to a Case-Shiller report released in December, Phoenix home prices have increased nearly 22 percent, leading the nation and indicating that the real estate market is on the rebound.

“Interest rates are starting to rise and home prices are rising due to greater demand, a relatively low supply of homes for sale and foreclosure sales falling,” says Kevin Sellers, executive vice president with First Fidelity Bank in Arizona. “So, if you’re able to take advantage of the lower current market with still affordable homes and historically low mortgage rates, chances are you’ll be making a good investment.”

Valley bankers are warning potential buyers that if they are waiting for home prices to “hit bottom,” they may miss the chance to be a homeowner altogether; prices may rise before we realize they were at their lowest point; or a rise in interest rate could potentially price buyers (particularly first-time buyers) out of the market.

“Trying to time the market when it comes to the purchase of a home is very difficult in any environment considering the complex market dynamics,” says Robert Winter, Arizona manager of mortgage lending for Mutual of Omaha Bank. “For example, if you try to time the market when it comes to home pricing, you risk missing a low interest rate environment. If you try to time the market when it comes to interest rates, you risk purchasing something you don’t necessarily like and possibly paying more than necessary. This doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that not all transactions close successfully, potentially leading to a loss of the time invested.”

While the real estate market and lending are starting to find their new normal, it depends on where you’re positioned as to whether we are currently experiencing a buyer’s market or seller’s market, Winter says.

“The market advantage differs depending on the price point,” Winter says. “In general, the market favors sellers. However, the advantage shifts to buyers when it comes to higher priced homes.”

If you are in a position to take advantage of the favorable climate in the real estate market, Streicher says to ask yourself a few questions before getting started in the home buying process:
• Are you ready to settle in one location for a while?
• What is the total cost of home ownership?
• Is your job stable?

“Buyers should also research their target neighborhood to establish a baseline for local selling prices and the amount of time properties in their target area stay on the market,” he says. “For those considering an upgrade to a larger home, there are still good options available to purchase higher-end properties using jumbo loans. Bank of America continues its jumbo financing, and offers competitive rates, when many other lenders were forced to discontinue these loans due to a lack of a secondary market.”

While bankers say it’s not wise to try to time the market, they agree that working with a mortgage professional and real estate professional to help meet your real estate goals and objectives is a sure-fire formula for success.

Affordability is great,” says Tim Disbrow, senior vice president, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. “Rates are incredibly low. It is a great time to buy as long as it meets your financial needs.”

housing.prices

Bankers: Don’t try to time the market

Timing is everything.

But when it comes to buying a house, Valley banking leaders says it’s best not to rely too much on timing.

“Potential buyers who are still on the sidelines waiting for housing prices to decline further may see themselves priced out of the market if interest rates rise,” says Carl Streicher, regional sales executive at Bank of America. “Timing the market is risky in that we never really know when the bottom has hit until it has passed us by. Also, buyers should be sure they are ready financially and personally to own a home before they purchase, so timing the market shouldn’t be the sole driver of a home purchase.”

According to Streicher, home affordability is at an all-time high, interest rates are at historic lows and home values are increasing. According to a Case-Shiller report released in December, Phoenix home prices have increased nearly 22 percent, leading the nation and indicating that the real estate market is on the rebound.

“Interest rates are starting to rise and home prices are rising due to greater demand, a relatively low supply of homes for sale and foreclosure sales falling,” says Kevin Sellers, executive vice president with First Fidelity Bank in Arizona. “So, if you’re able to take advantage of the lower current market with still affordable homes and historically low mortgage rates, chances are you’ll be making a good investment.”

Valley bankers are warning potential buyers that if they are waiting for home prices to “hit bottom,” they may miss the chance to be a homeowner altogether; prices may rise before we realize they were at their lowest point; or a rise in interest rate could potentially price buyers (particularly first-time buyers) out of the market.

“Trying to time the market when it comes to the purchase of a home is very difficult in any environment considering the complex market dynamics,” says Robert Winter, Arizona manager of mortgage lending for Mutual of Omaha Bank. “For example, if you try to time the market when it comes to home pricing, you risk missing a low interest rate environment. If you try to time the market when it comes to interest rates, you risk purchasing something you don’t necessarily like and possibly paying more than necessary. This doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that not all transactions close successfully, potentially leading to a loss of the time invested.”

While the real estate market and lending are starting to find their new normal, it depends on where you’re positioned as to whether we are currently experiencing a buyer’s market or seller’s market, Winter says.

“The market advantage differs depending on the price point,” Winter says. “In general, the market favors sellers. However, the advantage shifts to buyers when it comes to higher priced homes.”

If you are in a position to take advantage of the favorable climate in the real estate market, Streicher says to ask yourself a few questions before getting started in the home buying process:
• Are you ready to settle in one location for a while?
• What is the total cost of home ownership?
• Is your job stable?

“Buyers should also research their target neighborhood to establish a baseline for local selling prices and the amount of time properties in their target area stay on the market,” he says. “For those considering an upgrade to a larger home, there are still good options available to purchase higher-end properties using jumbo loans. Bank of America continues its jumbo financing, and offers competitive rates, when many other lenders were forced to discontinue these loans due to a lack of a secondary market.”

While bankers say it’s not wise to try to time the market, they agree that working with a mortgage professional and real estate professional to help meet your real estate goals and objectives is a sure-fire formula for success.

Affordability is great,” says Tim Disbrow, senior vice president, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. “Rates are incredibly low. It is a great time to buy as long as it meets your financial needs.”

A Guide to Applying for a Bank Loan

Are Arizona banks lending?

Are they or aren’t they?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halloran echoed Ralston’s observations.

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

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

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

121628839

Mutual of Omaha Buys Mortgages to Support Habitat Mission

A growing number of families in central Arizona now have access to affordable housing, thanks in part to a unique arrangement between Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona (HFHCAZ) and Mutual of Omaha Bank.

Mutual of Omaha Bank recently purchased more than two dozen non-interest bearing mortgages originated by Habitat for Humanity, totaling approximately $740,000. HFHCAZ has been able to immediately use the funds as capital, investing the money to help further its mission to build, renovate and repair affordable homes in partnership with families in need.

In total, Mutual of Omaha Bank has purchased nearly 250 mortgages and contributed nearly $8.1 million in capital to HFHCAZ since 2009. HFHCAZ has used that funding to provide adequate shelter to more than 500 low income families throughout central Arizona. The nonprofit organization also has invested in new land, new developments, new Re-stores and new home repair programs.

“During one of the worst recessions in history, Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona has been able to grow and triple our volume, serving hundreds of families, thanks in large part to Mutual of Omaha Bank’s support,” said Roger Schwierjohn, president and CEO of HFHCAZ. “Surviving this economic downturn and housing crisis would’ve been even more challenging without access to this important capital. Today, Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona is a much stronger and more vibrant organization because of Mutual of Omaha Bank.”

As part of its mission to provide affordable housing for low income families, HFHCAZ works to keep costs low with volunteer labor and donated materials. Once a home is built, HFHCAZ then sells the home to the new owner by asking for a minimal down payment and offering a zero-interest mortgage.

By acquiring the mortgages, Mutual of Omaha Bank has provided HFHCAZ immediate access to capital, while ensuring the mortgages are serviced by a local nonprofit that specializes in mortgage lending.

“With Habitat’s significant presence in the Valley, we saw this as a great opportunity partner with a solid nonprofit organization who invests in the local community,” said Kevin Halloran, Arizona state president for Mutual of Omaha Bank. “We are well-positioned to support and service these mortgages and are proud to help such a great non-profit like Habitat.”

For more information about Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, visit http://www.habitatcaz.org or contact Roger Schwierjohn at (623) 583-2417.

Winter, Robert 80565

Mutual of Omaha Names Manager of Mortgage Sales for Arizona

Mutual of Omaha Bank has promoted Robert Winter to manager of mortgage sales for Arizona. Based in Scottsdale at 9200 E. Pima Center Parkway, Winter will lead the bank’s statewide mortgage lending group as they offer a comprehensive portfolio of residential financing solutions including conventional loans, jumbo loans, second liens, bridge notes, FHA and VA loans and construction loans, including a one-time close product.

A longtime resident of Scottsdale, Winter joined Mutual of Omaha Bank in July of 2009 as a senior mortgage loan officer. He has more than 13 years of mortgage lending experience in Arizona and previously held roles in accounting and finance, including as a Certified Public Accountant.

Winter earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Dakota. He has served as a volunteer board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale for the past 12 years.

Mutual of Omaha Bank is a full-service bank providing financial solutions to individuals and businesses across the United States. With expert banking talent and more than $6 billion in assets, Mutual of Omaha Bank is one of the highest performing banks in the nation.  It is a subsidiary of Mutual of Omaha, a leading insurance and financial services company since 1909. For more information about Mutual of Omaha Bank, visit www.mutualofomahabank.com.

Mobile Banking - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Mobile Banking Causes Security Concerns

Use of phone apps skyrockets 45 percent in six-month span, but how safe are they?

The smart phone is becoming to banking what the knife has become to bread: It’s changing the way we consume.

Mobile Banking - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

“Mobile banking has had the biggest impact on financial institutions since the introduction of ATMs,” says Paul Stull, senior vice president of strategy and brand at Arizona State Credit Union, the first credit union to introduce mobile banking in Arizona.”The convenience of being able to use a mobile device to manage funds, track balances and pay bills is a huge advancement in convenience and time savings for consumers.”

According to comScore, a leader in measuring the impact of the digital world, the number of people using mobile banking applications on their smart phones jumped an astounding 45 percent from December 2010 to June 2011. Nearly 14 percent of the total U.S. mobile audience accessed mobile banking services in June 2011, an increase of 21 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010.

Mobile Banking - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

“New functionality, such as person-to-person payments and mobile check deposits, continue to gain traction, accelerating user adoption,” says Dan Stewart, president for Mutual of Omaha Bank in Arizona. “Banks that ignore the trend will find themselves missing what is fast becoming a standard bank offering.”

Not many banks are ignoring the trend. In a recent survey of the top 25 financial institutions in the United States, Javelin Strategy & Research found that 23 of those 25 institutions offer some sort of mobile-banking service SMS/text, downloadable applications, WAP/browser, or a combination of all three, known as a “triple play”. Thats an improvement from 2009, says Mary Monahan, research director at Javelin, when less than 50 percent of the same banking institutions played active roles in mobile space.

“Mobile banking is a must-have now,” says Monahan.

Wells Fargo is one of the institutions that blazed the mobile-banking trail and offers the triple play.

Mobile Banking - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012“Wells Fargo launched its mobile channel in 2007 by listening to our customers,” says Brian Pearce, senior vice president and head of the Retail Mobile Channel at Wells Fargo’s Internet Services Group. “They told us that they wanted easy and convenient access to their balances, transfer capabilities and the ability to pay a bill while on the go. They also told us that they wanted to be able to access their information regardless of their phone model and carrier plan. To meet these needs, we offer a triple play mobile web, Apps for Android, iPhone, Blackberry and Palm, and text banking.”

And Wells Fargo continues to improve the ease of use and is adding new bells and whistles to make banking easier.

“We’ve just recently enhanced the design of our mobile experience with a simplified navigation and streamlined screen designs,” Pearce says. “We also added a GPS feature for our wf.com ATM locator and new commands and enrollment options for our text banking application.”

Banks are finding that mobile banking is good for the bottom line.

Mobile Banking - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012“Mobile banking adds to customer acquisition and retention, reduces call volume to the call center, and takes the convenience of Web banking one step further,” says Craig Doyle, Arizona market president of Comerica Bank, which has launched mobile banking apps for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android. “This technology also forces the industry to focus more on the customer and carefully evaluate what products and services we can offer to better serve them.”

While smart phone users are the biggest users of mobile banking, the exploding popularity of mobile tablets like the iPad is expected to alter the mobile banking landscape even further, experts say.

“The tablet is going to be a game changer,” Monahan says. “Banks have to be ready.”

Apps for tablets will require some thought, since consumers spend more time browsing on mobile tablets than they do on mobile phones, Monahan says. “Banks will have to have deeper dives, and its going to be key for banks to have a tablet-specific app.”

Even as the use of mobile banking skyrockets, there is one issue that is keeping it from reaching a fever pitch.

“The main reason consumers dont move to mobile banking is because of security concerns,” Monahan says. “Consumers want to know that their mobile interactions and transactions are encrypted, and they want some assurance that they will be reimbursed for losses associated with a mobile-banking breach. Banks need to educate consumers about what they offer and how they are protecting the mobile channel.”

Educating consumers is something that Comerica said is vital to growing its mobile banking channel.

“Comerica always has security in mind and is constantly evaluating better ways to protect our customers,” Doyle says. “We encourage our customers to take the proper precautions to protect themselves. We feature information about good security practices on our Comerica.com website and our mobile banking microsite so our customers can be properly educated and protect themselves.”

To help ease its customers security concerns, Monahan says banks should at least do these three things:

Post mobile banking security guarantees on their websites. Guarantees should be prominent, on the homepage, so consumers can quickly find them.

Banking institutions offering mobile banking through downloadable apps should have the ability to remotely deactivate apps that could be infected or contain malicious code.

Every institution should spearhead a strong consumer education campaign that educates consumers about safe mobile-banking practices, while also informing them about mobile offers and services provided by their banks or credit unions.

Arizonas banking leaders say those security concerns are not going unnoticed.

“All mobile technology used by Arizona State Credit Union complies with federal financial institution regulations requiring the use of multi-factor authentication technology,” Stull says. “In addition, the Credit Union will be adding new security improvements during 2012 that will use virtual intelligence to learn user behavior and detect variances in usage that may indicate unauthorized activity.”

Bankers point out that mobile banking can actually be a great tool to use to keep your money secure because you have 24-hour access to your financial information.

“We feel that the ‘anytime, anywhere’ nature of mobile banking gives customers a great tool to monitor their accounts and stay in control of their money,” Pearce says.

5 Ways To Protect Yourself

1. Set the phone to require a password to power on the handset or awake it from sleep mode.

2. Whether you’re using the mobile Web or a mobile client, don’t let it automatically log you in to your bank account. Otherwise, if your phone is lost or stolen, someone will have free access to your money.

3. Avoid sharing your password, account number, PIN, answers to secret questions or other such information. Don’t save this information anywhere on your handset.

4. Immediately tell your bank or mobile operator if you lose your phone.

5. Review account statements. If you do notice any unusual transactions, call your bank immediately and dispute the transactions.

For more information on mobile banking and ways to protect yourself visit the Wells Fargo website at wellsfargo.com.

AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012