Tag Archives: Wells Fargo

Arizona Forward, State Park Issues

Arizona Forward Enhances Awareness of Arizona’s Park Issues

Arizona Forward Enhances Awareness of Arizona’s Park Issues

Arizonans value their parks and open space, consistently ranking them as key quality of life indicators. A recent survey conducted of residents statewide shows that 87 percent visit a park or recreation area at least once a year, with 23 percent doing so on a weekly basis. In addition, parks and open spaces create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.

Multiple land ownerships and funding mechanisms have produced parks and open space issues that are complex, confusing and sometimes controversial. In fact, the telephone survey conducted by WestGroup Research further revealed that most residents (80 percent) rate their knowledge of how state and local parks are funded as very low or in the middle range. Meanwhile, a depressed economy and recession has impacted parks negatively at every jurisdictional level from federal and state to county and municipal governments.

Recognizing the need for public education on the subject of parks and open space issues, Arizona Forward, a new statewide environmental/business coalition launched by Valley Forward earlier this year, developed a comprehensive report to provide unbiased facts, background information and answers to frequently asked questions about state and federal lands as well as county and municipal parks.

Designed to enhance awareness of and interest in solving Arizona’s parks issues, the primer is among Arizona Forward’s first projects towards its mission to promote cooperative efforts to improve the livability, sustainability and economic vitality of cities and towns across Arizona. Readers can sort out how much open space is available in the state, who is responsible for it and the challenges facing various jurisdictions of government. The user-friendly reference guide is described as ‘parks and open space 101’ and can be downloaded at arizonaforward.org.

While the primer doesn’t take a formal position on how to solve funding issues relating to parks, it communicates the economic impact of recreational and open space amenities and why Arizonans should care about these natural resources.

Charter members of Arizona Forward include: Arizona Community Foundation, First Solar, Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold, National Bank of Arizona, Solon Corporation, Sundt Construction, The Nature Conservancy, Total Transit and Wells Fargo.

For more information about Arizona Forward, visit arizonaforward.org.

Mindy Gunn - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Event Planning Chose Mindy Gunn

Mindy Gunn, AVP, CMP
Technology and Operations Group Event Manager
Wells Fargo Bank
www.wellsfargo.com

Mindy Gunn didn’t choose event planning — it chose her.

Gunn planned on attending law school, but she switched career paths when she was offered a job as a meeting planner with Wells Fargo Bank.

“My start in the meetings and events industry came when I co-founded a nonprofit organization in college that produced and promoted free concerts and theatrical productions in the community,” Gunn says, adding that she also produced events while working at Wells Fargo as she attended Brigham Young University.

Gunn has been with Wells Fargo for 15 years, starting as a teller.

In her role as an event manager, Gunn joined the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International seven years ago. She initially joined as a way to gain her certified meeting professional (CMP) designation, which she did in 2006.

“MPI provides a link to other meeting professionals, as well as valuable resources to help me manage my ever-changing role in my organization,” she says.

“I am able to network with others in my profession, and keep apprised of what is happening in the industry in a way that works for me, whether it be a networking event, or, more often, the Web resources.”

Gunn says the current economic situation hasn’t changed her association with MPI; it is still a resource.

“MPI has provided important information and resources on how I can be more strategic in the support of my company from a meetings perspective,” she says.

Gunn adds that MPI also can help industry newcomers in this economy.

“I think there are fewer newcomers to the organization,” Gunn says. “With the current job market, it is becoming tougher to enter the industry, and as a result, fewer new members. These newcomers are vital to continue innovating and keeping the approaches ‘fresh.’”

Gunn says she wants to personally mentor newcomers in order to help them understand the opportunities MPI has to offer both personally and professionally. Gunn admits she didn’t take advantage of an MPI mentor when she was offered one, but she says she now knows that mentors are important.

“I would also like to see these new members aligned with mentors from their area of focus, so they can truly learn more about how to take the most advantage of the opportunities before them,” Gunn says.

Not only are newcomers an important part of MPI’s future, but so, too, is bringing together existing members, Gunn says. She says that a forum for members from all branches of the industry, from independent and corporate planners to suppliers, is something that would benefit all members.

“The more we understand each other’s roles, the better we can work together,” she says.

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Data Centers

i/o Data Centers Raises $200M In Two Integrated Financings

i/o Data Centers today announced the closing of $200 million in two financings, including a senior long term credit facility of up to $130 million led by Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Securities and a $70 million secured facility led by Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation.

“Demand for data centers as a service continues to be strong,” said George D. Slessman, CEO of i/o. “This new long term capital enables i/o to execute its Enterprise Class Data Center Roadmap. We will add 35 megawatts of data center capacity for our customers within the next 12 months.”

In addition, Jonathan F. Mauck, CFO of i/o, noted that “The next phase of our growth plan is fully funded.”

Steven Reinhart, senior vice president of Wells Fargo, said that “The strength of i/o’s customer base, balance sheet and cash flow are a testament to the strength of its business model and management. We look forward to a long term relationship with i/o.”

William Luetzow, managing director of Caterpillar Financial Services’ Global Power Finance-Americas, added, “We’ve enjoyed a long-term financing relationship with i/o since its inception. The high quality i/o power systems and their customer base of multi-national enterprises are an excellent fit with Caterpillar’s worldwide finance and distribution capabilities.”

i/o has grown rapidly over the past three years and recently announced the launch of i/o ANYWHERE, a modular data center service that allows it to deploy data center capacity anywhere a customer requires it.

“This latest financing, key additions to our management ranks, and our world class customer base position i/o for additional growth and success as the industry’s leading provider of enterprise co-location and data center solutions,” Slessman said.

green-house

Bringing Energy-Efficient Mortgages To Valley Homeowners

Mortgage and auditing firms are teaming up to help green homeowners cut costs

Buying a home can come with many unexpected and obstructive costs. REEIS is partnering with mortgage companies to help homebuyers curtail costs and go green.

By teaming up with W.J. Bradley and Wells Fargo, REEIS, an energy efficiency auditing firm, offers free energy audits to homebuyers who are interested in energy-efficient mortgages.

What does an EEM do for a homebuyer?

    An energy-efficient mortgage (EEM) allows homebuyers to:

  • Qualify for a higher loan by taking into account the savings of an energy-efficient home
  • Receive up to $8,000 to put toward energy-efficient improvements after the close of escrow
  • Combine the total amount of energy-efficient upgrades with the loan to create one payment

Previously, homebuyers would be forced to shell out around $500 for an energy efficiency audit before they would qualify for an energy-efficient mortgage (EEM). This up-front cost “stops the process right there,” says Todd Russo, president of REEIS.

Lenders found it difficult to ask their clients to spend more money without the guarantee of an EEM, Russo says. Now W.J. Bradley and Wells Fargo clients can receive an energy efficiency audit for free.

REEIS’ audit produces two options for the homebuyer to choose from. The two options feature improvements that can be done to the house, each at a different price point.

“Ninety-five percent of people move forward with one of the two packages,” Russo says.

Not only will an EEM create a greener home by making it energy efficient from the start, it will also help the already strapped-for-cash homebuyer save money.

“When factoring all the costs of home ownership, the customer will pay less every month from the day one, in most cases,” Russo says.

REEIS also facilitates tax credits and utility rebates for the average homebuyer that total between $1,250 and $3,000 within two to three months of close.

Although REEIS’ service is only a few months old, Russo says it is going well. In one week, REEIS completed four energy audits with Wells Fargo, which has initiated a nationwide push to offer more EEMs to clients.

In addition to providing this service, REEIS and Russo want to spread the word about EEMs. Russo says everyone who knows about EEMs wants to offer them, which is why REEIS and Russo are trying to “educate the industry – realtors, lenders and homebuyers – that the conventional way of doing things is not the only option,” Russo says.

REEIS’ commitment to EEMs is the main reason why W.J. Bradley teamed up with the company, says Mike Tompkins, team manager and mortgage banker with W.J. Bradley.

Tompkins and Russo met at a mixer and decided that their shared excitement about EEMs would create a solid partnership.

“It amazes me that [the EEM program is] so under-utilized,” Tompkins says. “We need a vehicle, it seems like, to help us get it out to the public.”

This urge for awareness is the foundation of REEIS and W.J. Bradley’s team.

“I see [REEIS’] commitment in wanting to get the word out,” which is why the companies will be partners for some time to come, Tompkins says.

Along with its partnership with REEIS, W.J. Bradley has created flyers, hosts seminars and speaks with real estate agents daily about EEMs.

The service REEIS, W.J. Bradley and Wells Fargo provide is a “turn-key solution” to the lack of information and knowledge about EEMs, Russo says.

AZ Green SceneHomebuyer should “ask questions. Look into it a little deeper,” Russo says. It would be a “shame” for homebuyers to not take advantage of an EEM because they didn’t know it existed, he adds.

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.

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.”

CDRates

CD Rates Inching Higher Again

Bank-issued certificates of deposit rates are inching up, but if your one-year CD is maturing, you’re probably not going to like what’s being offered. That’s because CD rates took a dramatic drop in the past year as the Federal Reserve marched through a series of reductions starting last summer. The downward spiral was triggered by a belt-tightening credit crunch and a pervasive housing downslide.

Rates plunged as much as 325 basis points in the past year, dropping to as low as 2 percent from 5.25 percent.

Early last summer, it was not uncommon to see banks offering 5 percent interest or more on certificates of deposit. Then came the steady stream of rate cuts, and CDs were paying in the neighborhood of 2 percent. Now we’re seeing rates flirting with 3 percent, and teasers that are a tempting couple of percentage points higher.

Does the move to higher ground indicate that an economic turnaround has begun? Not necessarily, say banking experts.

“Rates are down considerably from what a consumer could have gotten last summer,” says Herb Kaufman, professor of finance and vice chair of the Department of Finance at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business. “Now they’ve come back a little bit. They’re trending up as banks try to rebuild their deposit base and retain the deposits they have.”

Kaufman and Rick Robinson, regional investment manager for Wells Fargo Wealth Management Group, agree that one of the reasons for the modest increase is the perception that the Fed is not likely to reduce interest rates anytime soon. Another factor is inflation.

Robinson says the Fed is taking a wait-and-see approach to determine how the economy responds to seven rate cuts and whether inflation will remain somewhat subdued or will increase.

Kaufman notes that inflation, fueled by gasoline and food prices, appears to be accelerating.

“As that happens — and the feds are very conscious of that — you can expect banks will have to reflect the rise in inflation with their CD rates,” Kaufman says.

A significant improvement in the credit market adds to the likelihood of CD rates continuing to drift upward through summer, Kaufman says. He expects to see CD rates somewhat higher than they were last spring.

Is the inching up of CD rates a good or bad sign for the economy?

“I’d say it’s a little bit of a good sign,” Kaufman says. “It wouldn’t happen if the Feds weren’t comfortable with the credit market. Concerns have eased. Banks are comfortable to bid up rates, which means some of the constipation in the credit market has eased.”

The rise in interest rates could be tied to various factors.

“It’s usually a signal that the economy is beginning to do well or that the Federal Reserve wants to slow down the economy,” Robinson says. “Or it could mean that interest rates go higher because of supply and demand, because of inflationary pressures.”

But Robinson cautions: “A small uptick in rates is not a signal that we’re out of the woods or that economic growth is turning around. I still think it will be subdued in the second half of 2008. We expected low growth for the first portion of this year, and we expect to pick up the pace slightly in the second half.”

Another word of caution for investors: “Some banks might offer teaser rates of 5 percent for three months,” Robinson says, “but when it matures and resets, the rate will be consistent with what other banks are offering. Any bank in Arizona must remain competitive with the bank on the opposite corner.”

The creep upward of CD rates is a good sign for aging investors who rely on income from these investments to maintain their lifestyle. Conversely, the drastic decrease in rates since last summer was hurtful, especially for seniors.

“There is less money in their pocket,” Robinson says. “As their CDs matured, if they reinvested their money they’re more likely earning less than they earned previously. They have less to live on.”

Kaufman, too, says the increase is a good sign for retirees, so long as the rise does not pose a threat to economic recovery. Because of the roller-coaster ride the stock market has been on, some investors seeking a safe haven switched to CDs covered by the FDIC.

The collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns & Co. in March spawned some movement to CDs and safer, less volatile investments, including government-backed bonds. Robinson calls it “a flight to quality.”

“In the summer of 2007, banks went through a confidence crisis,” Robinson says. “Investors were worried. Some banks experienced an outflow of deposits, given investor concerns over their viability. That concern seems to have lessened. As the crisis grows longer, more information becomes available, which lessens the panic. People can understand the viability of their institution.”

The reason for the subtle increase in CD rates is anybody’s guess.

“Some banks might be willing to take a loss on deposits to shore up their capital base,” Robinson says. “They may want to increase deposits because they see opportunities to make loans. There are myriad reasons why rates go up, fluctuating in small increments of five to 10 basis points. It could be strategic or market related.”