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Economic concepts

Arizona Poised to See Above-Average Growth

Thanks to strong improvement in housing prices and improved population in-flow, Arizona should expect above-average growth through the year, according to the bi-annual U.S. State Monitor Report from BMO Economics. Expected real GDP growth in the state is 3.2 percent, up from a 1.8 percent rate currently expected for 2013.

Nonfarm payrolls in Arizona were up 2 percent in 2013 – above the national average. The unemployment rate edged up through much of 2013, but moved lower late in the year to finish at 7.6 percent, the lowest since late 2008 and a significant improvement from the recession high of 10.8 percent.

“Although unemployment in Arizona is still higher than it should be, there has been solid progress made in generating good paying jobs that will bolster our overall economy,” said Steve Johnson, Regional President, Arizona, BMO Harris Bank. “In particular we’ve seen a boost in professional services and the tourism industry, which is great news for business owners in those sectors.”

Population growth has picked up to a 1.3 percent year-over-year pace driven by the improving economy. While that is still below the 3.3 percent rate experienced during the housing boom, positive momentum is expected to continue through the coming years.

Reduced home inventories are allowing for improved construction activity, which was at a near stand-still during the recession.

“Arizona’s housing market is experiencing a strong recovery, despite a recent soft patch. According to the S&P Case-Shiller Index, Phoenix prices have surged more than 40 percent from their lows,” said Robert Kavcic, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets.

“While the increase in mortgage rates through the summer softened sales and home building activity, that should prove to be temporary. The foreclosure rate fell to 1.3 percent in the third quarter of last year, from its high of 6.3 percent. Additionally, surging home prices have reduced the number of home mortgages under water to less than 25 percent,” Mr. Kavcic added.

To view a full copy of the report, visit www.bmocm.com/economics.

First Job: Pam Conboy, Regional President Of Wells Fargo Arizona Regional Banking

First Job: Pam Conboy, Regional President Of Wells Fargo Arizona Regional Banking

Pam Conboy

Regional President, Wells Fargo Arizona Regional Banking

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned.
My first job was while I was in high school. I had just made the frosh/soph cheerleading squad and needed to pay for my uniforms. I was hired as a hostess at a local restaurant — Rod’s Grill in El Monte, Calif. My primary role was to greet and seat our customers, and to assist the waitresses. I learned so much about providing great service and about coming to work prepared to focus entirely on the customer; smiling, welcoming and thanking with each and every interaction.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned.
My first full-time job within the banking industry was as a personal banker right here with my current great company, Wells Fargo! I was a banker at the Flair Industrial Park Branch in El Monte nearly 30 years ago. I brought many of my earlier customer service skills to my new job and further learned the power of listening. Engaging in dialogue with my customers was the very best way to identify how I could help them financially. … I learned when we focus on customers’ needs, they reward us with their loyalty, new business, repeat business and lots of referrals.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
As a hostess, I made minimum wage; it was 1976. My full-time salary at Wells Fargo was $800 per month or $9,600 per year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
One of the most influential is my mother. She taught me much at a young age and still continues to support my successes and teach me every day. One lesson was to always be a leader. She instilled a high degree of confidence, as I knew I had her and my family for great support. … Some of my professional mentors also provided encouragement, as well as tough coaching when I needed it. They always identified what was a strength to build upon, as well as an opportunity for further development … Providing conscious awareness was one of the greatest lessons: that of which you are aware can be improved.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
We often use this phrase at Wells Fargo: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” … Do what is best for the customer, do what is best for the team. Do what is best for the company, and you win! … The other advice is to keep learning and keep growing, stay hungry for knowledge and gain experiences! Learning is a journey!

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I enjoy numbers and analyzing data, also listening, providing advice and solving. If I weren’t a banker, I might be an accountant or a psychologist. I also have a passion for helping our communities and our youth, so possibly a youth career coach or counselor.