Spotlight On: Silvana Capaldi, Founding Chair, Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors of Tampa Bay

Spotlight On: Silvana Capaldi, Founding Chair, Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors of Tampa Bay

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — The long-term success of any economy is predicated on both organic growth and consistent M&A activity within the business community. Founding Chair of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors Silvana Capaldi believes the Tampa Bay Region is booming with new opportunities for business deals and the business experts she represents are there to help business owners and investors make the most of their businesses.

 

 

 

What is happening in the Tampa Bay Region market that makes it attractive for an advisory body such as the Alliance to decide to set up shop here?

 

According to the Census Bureau, Tampa Bay is one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States, which is great for our local businesses, businesses relocating here and startups. We have an enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit and a very strong, engaged business community. Our support system and services for our young, innovative business startup space continues to grow. We want to see businesses thrive and our goal is to provide education and resources to business owners and business professionals.  Business owners are reluctant to attend events for fear of being bombarded with people selling to them. It is our mission to provide a venue where they can hear local business owners share their lessons learned and showcase the talent pool of experts in our community: investors, business leaders, organizations and mentors who are invested in Tampa Bay.  

 

Have you seen a significant uptick in M&A activity in the region?

 

With our favorable economic condition, availability of bank loans and private equity accessibility, we have seen an increase in M&A activity. For example, ConnectWise acquired companies and then sold to a private equity group, while PGT Innovations acquired NewSouth Window Solutions.  

We see companies looking for strategic growth through M&A. They may be looking to gain market share, expand talent pool, gain resources or eliminate competition.   

In addition, the benefactors of the M&A deal now have capital to reinvest. These business owners are experienced people feeding back into the entrepreneurial ecosystem, building companies that will one day sell again.

 

Where are you seeing the most demand for the services the Alliance provides?

 

The Alliance is both an educational and resource platform for business owners. We want business owners to have an understanding of the options they have, whether they are selling their business, passing the business to family or employees, or growing their business with an investor. So often we hear from business owners stating that they were unaware of options available to them when deciding to exit. We engage speakers with the business owner in mind. 

 

What is the value added by the professional services you offer in facilitating business deals?

 

There are so many moving parts in a business deal. We provide valuable resources and have a network of professional experts to work with the business owner to maximize valuation and expose them to the right opportunities.

 

Companies that have approached a transaction intermediary, hoping to sell their businesses, are often turned away for not being “market ready.” Those that go to market sell for a lower value. Then there are deals that fall apart when they get to the due diligence. I worked as a consultant for an insurance agency and the owner claimed he was 100% owner. Through the due diligence process, the client neglected to share that there were two family members who had ownership in the company.

 

Business owners often think that their business is worth more, only to be disappointed at the number after the valuation. That’s when a professional can come in and suggest adjustments that would increase the value. For example, the buyer may want to know what prospects are in the pipeline, projected future sales, reports or what CRM they are using.  Not having that information or tools can decrease the value of the company.

 

What is your view of the Tampa Bay Area market in the near term?

 

This is an exciting time for Tampa Bay. We will continue to attract businesses that want to relocate here,  and companies that are being formed. Business owners that have exited their businesses are reinvesting into companies. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem will continue to draw young innovators. The University of Tampa’s John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, a partner of the Alliance, is committed to helping innovative startups gain traction, which equates to continually drawing and retaining entrepreneurs. Tampa Bay communities will continue to invest in an already exceptional entrepreneurial ecosystem, allowing Tampa Bay to become recognized as the place to invest.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.amaaonline.com/tampa-bay-chapter/

 

 

Spotlight On: Christopher Lam, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Spotlight On: Christopher Lam, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Charlotte’s growth continues to attract a gamut of industries and talent into the region. As a result, the legal needs of businesses are evolving along with the diversification of the local economy, expanding the opportunities for legal professionals in the Queen City. Charlotte’s cost of living and sophisticated legal services rival the likes of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Partner Christopher Lam told Invest: Charlotte. The business diversity is driving the need for expertise in compliance and data privacy. Additionally, there is a great emphasis to provide access to justice to all residents via pro bono legal services or by committing financial resources to community agencies in the region, Lam said. 

Q: How has the legal landscape changed with so much economic growth in the region?

A: From a legal perspective, a lot of firms from outside North Carolina decided to set up an office here, and not all of those have remained. According to American Lawyer, however, there are 59 law firms with a Charlotte office that are not headquartered here. This remains a very popular place to be for lawyers and that’s because of the way our business community has diversified.

We are known as a banking and financial services hub, and while this is still a key part of our economy, we are so much more than that, with energy, manufacturing, fintech and other sectors emerging. That diversification is good for us as lawyers too, as it better equips us to weather a potential downturn. For example, our firm has experts in multiple practice areas and industries, which allows us to serve clients with those needs and protects us against a downturn in one or two particular sectors.

Q: How have the legal needs of companies evolved as new technologies and developments emerge?

A: The core legal needs for businesses have largely remained the same – corporate, employment, litigation, real estate. But with new regulations, there is a greater need for expertise in compliance, specifically in data privacy, and particularly with new regulations such as GDPR and CCPA going into effect. That impacts almost every company. At Bradley, we have two of only a handful of lawyers in the country who are board-certified privacy lawyers, and we have an additional deep bench of lawyers who are CIPP-US certified. We have been well-positioned to help companies navigate these new regulations. 

Q: How do you think the private sector and public officials must work together to keep growth sustainable?

A: Charlotte has a proud legacy of business leadership in issues of community development and public policy. Our business leaders have long been champions of these initiatives and we certainly think we at Bradley are a part of that effort. It is important as corporate citizens that we recognize that the better we make our community as a whole, the better it is for everyone.

Q: How does the Charlotte legal market compare with other markets such as Chicago or New York?

A: Those cities are larger and more diverse and sometimes those legal markets can seem more attractive, whether it be a higher salary or more opportunities. In Charlotte, however, because of the diversity of the business community, we have sophisticated legal services here to rival the likes of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. We also have a cost of living that is more advantageous, meaning lawyers can have great opportunities with a lower cost of living. That’s the best of both worlds.

Q: What are the main challenges facing the Charlotte market today?

A: Most of the 5,500 lawyers in Mecklenburg County are not working in big firms or representing large companies. And there are thousands of residents in the broader Charlotte community who have legal needs but cannot afford legal services. As current president of the Mecklenburg County Bar, my time spent working with groups like the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has emphasized that the greatest challenge for lawyers here is our responsibility to ensure there is access to justice for all. We have a professional obligation to do so. We can do this in a couple primary ways – providing pro bono legal services ourselves or committing our financial resources to the agencies doing the heavy lifting every day. That issue is not unique to Charlotte, but as lawyers we have a particular responsibility to help ensure there is access to justice. I am very proud to say our lawyers at Bradley live into that. As but one example, we have a partnership with the Bank of America legal department through which we work with Safe Alliance to represent clients who need domestic violence protective orders. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://www.bradley.com/

Spotlight On: Julie Kleffel, EVP, Community Banking Executive, Seacoast Bank

Spotlight On: Julie Kleffel, EVP, Community Banking Executive, Seacoast Bank

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — Mergers and acquisitions are a trend in the banking industry. A little over a year after Seacoast Bank expanded its presence in the Central Florida area, through the acquisition of First Green Bank, Julie Kleffel, executive vice president and community banking executive at Seacoast Bank, spoke with Invest: about the impact of the merger.

What were some highlights for Seacoast Bank in Orlando over the last 12 to 18 months?

The most exciting highlight we had in the Orlando market was the acquisition of First Green Bank, which added significant customers and team members to our Orlando group, as well as the company at large. But the primary focus was in the Orlando metropolitan statistical area (MSA). As a result of that acquisition, as well as our organic growth strategy, Seacoast is now the No. 1 Florida-based company in the Orlando MSA by way of deposits. 

Highlight No. 2 is that this is the fastest-growing market among all the MSAs that Seacoast serves across the diverse state of Florida. The dynamic growth and diversification of the Orlando economy has been beneficial to the bank’s overall growth, which has also improved our ability to invest in our community. Seacoast also was recently named by Forbes 100 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the world as measured by growth in revenues, profits, and stock return. We are very proud of that because it is not just about growth but about profitable growth that we’re returning to shareholders.

 

How do you plan to incorporate First Green’s environmental initiatives into Seacoast? 

Seacoast has been very focused on its promise to invest in you and your community, and this initiative aligns with that purpose. Probably, the biggest pillar is offering financing to consumers and businesses to instal solar panels to provide sustainable energy. Because we’re a bigger institution now, we were able to extend the solar panel loan program and make it easier for customers. We were able to give them access to capital faster by using some of our technology platforms. As well, First Green offered charging stations for hybrid and electric vehicles at their branch locations. We have expanded this program and are working now with some local partners to continue expanding it. The response has been very positive, and we look forward to doing the same across the state. We have also started recycling at our Orlando branches by partnering with local municipalities.

 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Seacoast Bank: https://www.seacoastbank.com/ 

Spotlight On: Heath Campbell, Metrolina Regional President Charlotte, Truist

Spotlight On: Heath Campbell, Metrolina Regional President Charlotte, Truist

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — In December, the banking industry welcomed the nation’s sixth-largest commercial bank as the merger between BB&T and SunTrust was completed to create Truist Financial Corporation. The organization chose Charlotte as its headquarters to begin the new enterprise. The region’s banking legacy, strong financial service workforce and diversifying economy helped solidify Charlotte as Truist’s official headquarters. In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, Truist Metrolina Region President Heath Campbell talks about the factors that brought Truist to the region, the meshing of the BB&T and SunTrust cultures moving forward, and how Truist plans to tap into Charlotte’s financial services workforce.   

 

What factors led to the selection of Charlotte as the location for Truist’s headquarters?

 

BB&T has a great heritage in Winston-Salem in the same way that SunTrust does in Atlanta, however our leaders, in the true spirit of a merger of equals, selected a new city in which to base Truist.

 

Charlotte was a natural choice. Both BB&T and SunTrust had operations here, and it is one of the world’s top financial centers and an emerging fintech hub, with access to incubator and accelerator programs, data science and education programs. The area has the second-largest population of financial services professionals behind New York City. Charlotte also sees more than 33,000 newcomers each year, attracted by career opportunities, diverse living options and a favorable cost of living.

 

How will the cultures of BB&T and SunTrust mesh as Truist establishes itself in the market?

There are not a lot of mergers of equals because they are hard to pull off. The cultures of the organizations need to be compatible – and they were with BB&T and SunTrust. While we have different practices, we shared a very similar vision, mission and values. We took different strategic paths in how we went to market, but what we stood for was very similar. As Truist, we are doubling down on our community bank philosophy. We are building a client-centric business model. BB&T and SunTrust had complementary strengths. For instance, SunTrust built an investment banking platform that was unparalleled and BB&T had a strong legacy in community banking and insurance. We are combining those strengths to benefit the clients and communities we serve.           

  

How will Truist tap into Charlotte’s financial services workforce?

 

I’m particularly proud that when we announced this merger, we not only committed to being best in class for our clients, but recognized that our teammates are at the heart of great client experiences. Truist is a dynamic place to work, offering industry-leading benefits and opportunities for all sorts of professional positions, including insurance, investments, and core banking.

 

We’re making our mark on the industry by offering a strong benefits programs and great opportunities to build careers, a total rewards program to attract and retain the best talent: the unusual combination of offering both industry-leading 401(k) matches and a pension plan to most teammates; industry-leading time off programs to ensure maximum flexibility in planning life events; and financial wellness programs.

 

There is also a place for those interested in computer science and engineering. We are creating an Innovation and Technology Center in Charlotte that will be dedicated to the ongoing enrichment of client experiences. The Innovation and Technology Center will focus on optimizing technology to serve our clients at every interaction, whether it takes place in a branch, over the phone or through a digital channel. The Technology and Innovation Center will also focus on equipping teammates with solutions to deliver personal touch and care to clients. We see this combination of technology and personalization as vital to ensuring clients’ trust and confidence in the security, simplicity and convenience of our services.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit :https://www.truist.com/

Spotlight On: Douglas Smith, Charlotte Market Executive, First Bank

Spotlight On: Douglas Smith, Charlotte Market Executive, First Bank

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020  — After its recent acquisition of Carolina Bank, regional North Carolina financial player First Bank wants to keep its focus on the smaller side of business finance. The bank is relying on a combination of market expertise and speedy response to cater to companies with revenues up to $100 million that could fall through the cracks of larger, national institutions, First Bank Charlotte Market Executive Douglas Smith told Invest: Charlotte 

 

 

What have been the main impact from the 2017 acquisition of Carolina Bank?

 

Carolina Bank was a $700-million to $750-million bank at the time of acquisition, so it was not insignificant from a balance sheet perspective. That operation has had a high impact. We had an opportunity to relocate some of our operations people from Troy, North Carolina, to Greensboro, which has had a positive economic impact there. Carolina Bank was dominant in real estate and we have been able to capitalize on its market share in Greensboro. We were also able to keep some very good bankers from the Carolina Bank team, and hired really good team members with experience in the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) business since the acquisition.

 

Which niche is First Bank trying to fill within the Charlotte market?

 

In 2017, there were five banks headquartered out of Charlotte and now there is one, Bank of America. The landscape has changed a lot. Most regional and national banks are swimming upstream from a client perspective. They are looking more for midmarket clients with half a billion dollars in revenue or higher. Our opportunity is with operating companies that have $5 million to $100 million in revenue. I think there is a void there, not just in banks but also regarding the expertise of bankers in that market. Other regional banks offer business banking or a smaller commercial focus, but I don’t think they have our background or our emphasis on commercial banking. We also have a lot of knowledge in commercial real estate and look for project opportunities ranging in size from $2 million to $25 million. 

 

As a community bank, we have the opportunity to be nimble and quick in our decision-making. We make sure that we have a credit partner in every metropolitan market and we always have a treasury management product officer in every major market, providing all the commercially-relevant pieces that you need to offer quick answers, go to market together and have quick engagement. If we get a full financial package on a prospect, we can have a term sheet in our prospect’s hands within two or three business days. We have heard stories that in the regional bank space, some banks can take four to five weeks to put a term sheet in the hands of a prospect. That speaks to a client.

 

Which financial services are most in demand by your clients?

 

Aside from commercial, the mortgage space is hot right now, given where interest rates are. For a while, we were slowing down on refinances but I think that even those people who refinanced two years ago now see that rates could have dropped to 1% or 1.5%, and they are back at play in the market. Acquisition activity is still decent, but the rates environment is definitely driving a lot of activity to the mortgage side. We have a Small Business Administration (SBA) division, which does very well for us from a fee income perspective.

 

The retail group has also done a great job. We hired a team within the last 18 months that is focused on the oversight of the retail function. Our First at Work product provides the employees of new commercial clients with benefits like free checking, free closing on loans, discounted prices and general financial wellness seminars for their employees. That has been a very meaningful deposit-gathering tool for us. 

 

What programs are you supporting at the community level to educate the public?

 

We focus on supporting anything regarding youth education. We try to help with math education, for example, and we put a great emphasis on kids in less developed suburbs of Charlotte who need financial assistance with school supplies. As kids get older, we also look for opportunities to help with financial literacy, making sure that high-school kids understand what a credit card is, what a checkbook is, and making sure to foster the right kinds of behaviors.

 

What is the near-term business outlook for the city and the bank?

 

I would like to believe that the lion’s share of the M&A activity in the community banking space is slowing down, just because there are fewer of our types of banks out there. Because there has been so much consolidation in the community banking space, the North Carolina commissioner of banking has been a little bit more generous with the issuance of charters, which offers opportunities for new capital groups to buy charters. As a result, I think we are again building up that base of true, smaller community banks that would be $100 million to $500 million in size, and the community needs that. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://localfirstbank.com/

 

Spotlight On: Douglas Smith, Charlotte Market Executive, First Bank

Local leaders optimistic amid Charlotte’s latest jobs ranking

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020   — The Queen City closed out the decade as one of the hottest markets in the nation, especially in the southeast. Millennials, Fortune 500 companies, and even a new soccer team want to be fully established in Charlotte and tap into its growth. And while the region offers a robust, tech- and financial services-savvy workforce, and is steadily diversifying its economy, a new report puts Charlotte in the middle of the pack for best cities for jobs in 2020. However, local market leaders across industries say job opportunities will remain sustainable for 2020, especially in the technology, law, and real estate sectors.

 

A new report by WalletHub puts Charlotte at No. 104 on its ranking of “2020’s Best Cities for Jobs.” The personal finance website compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 31 indicators of job-market strength, such as employment growth and monthly average starting salary. Scottsdale, Arizona, took the top spot, and Detroit, Michigan, came in last at No. 182. Other major North Carolina metros received mixed reviews, with Raleigh cracking the Top 50 at No. 48, and Fayetteville listed before Detroit at No. 181. Though the report listed Charlotte as middle of the pack for jobs compared to other cities, the technology, law and real estate sectors will continue to provide opportunities for the region’s workforce, local leaders say.  

 

Charlotte is quickly becoming a tech town, as evidenced by the different tech-based companies that relocated to the region in the latter half of the last decade. “In the Charlotte market, the technology talent pool is growing at a rapid pace, largely driven by companies like Red Ventures, LendingTree, and AvidXchange,” JLL Market Director Chase Monroe told Invest: Charlotte. “There has been a need for high-tech talent. Locally, there has been investment in the school system to drive technological education.” Charlotte’s banking legacy, coupled with the fintech that is coming out of the banking system, is also fueling the technology sector and driving talent to the Queen City, Monroe said. “Those factors have allowed Charlotte to be a top recruiter for multiple tech-based opportunities across industries. Recruiting and retention of talent has been a huge factor in the Charlotte Metro Area.” 

 

Similarly, the legal sector has evolved with the growth of the city and has a positive outlook heading into the new decade. “I don’t see anything but good things for the legal profession here,” Poyner Spruill Partner Tate Ogburn told Invest: Charlotte. “Charlotte has grown for the two decades that I have lived here, and I don’t see that dramatically changing.” The legal needs of companies evolve with the economic diversification and growth of the region, which creates opportunities for legal professionals, he said. “It is still a place where people want to be and there are more opportunities with new and more sophisticated companies coming in for the legal sector to continue growing. There are a lot of opportunities in terms of new clients and people, and different types of work as well,” Ogburn said. 

 

Real estate and development provide investor confidence and opportunities for the workforce as Charlotte continues to grow. “I’ve been at this for 40 years and the real estate market in Charlotte is the strongest, most robust I’ve ever seen,” Northwood CEO Ned Curran told Invest: Charlotte. He highlighted the growth of the residential, industrial and commercial sectors. “Residential leads the way. It has not slowed like in other cities. Distribution and manufacturing continue to grow, and we have a unique distribution hub of state highways and rail networks associated with the airport. The office sector has trailed a little, but in recent years it has been catching up, which is a reflection of job growth,” he said. Curran expects the growth to continue during an election year and beyond while expressing confidence in the region and its economic diversification, which will allow the region to be better prepared in the event of an economic downturn, he said. “We will continue to grow across all sectors. We continue to diversify our economy, which only gives us greater strength. When there is a downturn in the economy, not everybody suffers. Some have disadvantages, some have advantages, but we are all components of an economic system and with our great diversity, we will be able to weather it better.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: 

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-jobs/2173/#methodology

https://www.us.jll.com/en/locations/southeast/carolinas

https://www.poynerspruill.com/

https://www.northwoodoffice.com/

 

Spotlight On: Joseph Culley, Head of Capital Markets Group, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC

Spotlight On: Joseph Culley, Head of Capital Markets Group, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — An increase in high-net-worth investors, financial professionals moving back to the city and changes to organizational structures are some of the trends financial institutions are experiencing in Philadelphia. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC Head of Capital Markets Group Joseph Culley shared with Invest: some of the adjustments it has implemented amid the change in demographics and advances in technology.

What are some trends in Philadelphia’s financial sector?

 

We are starting to see more finance professionals leave cities like New York when they are at the age to start a family and coming back to Philadelphia. Although young talent retention has been a challenge, Philadelphians who moved to other cities after they graduated college are relocating back to the area. Our education system, arts and culture, transportation system, housing affordability and diverse environment are some of the drivers for residents.

 

What impact is technology having on banking?

 

The pace of change is happening more rapidly due to the disruption of technology in financial services. We have invested significantly in our technology platform and recently hired some of our first data scientists. Our company culture is starting to feel less like an investment firm and more like a technology firm. While we provide our client base with human experience and advice beyond investments, we are focusing on offering them more technological, mobile-friendly and artificial intelligence types of innovations and solutions.

 

What is the investment profile in Philadelphia?

 

We have seen an increase in high-net-worth investors coming to Philadelphia. We have significantly addressed the need we had for higher-end, condo-type properties that we lacked for years, and with that has come more international investment and out of state investment. One of our newer initiatives is focused on investment education and ways to provide more basic, fundamental knowledge about saving for retirement and investing.

 

What are some of the challenges facing financial institutions in today’s landscape?

 

The change in demographics is one of the challenges we are facing. Based on our internal projections, our workforce will be majority millennials within six years. That creates numerous opportunities for a firm like us to modernize and adjust. We recently made changes to our employee benefits, parental leave and dress code policies, based on feedback from our employee population. Organizational development and diversity and inclusion are some of the other areas we have been investing in due to these demographic and generational changes.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Janney Montgomery Scott LLC: https://www.janney.com/ 

 

Spotlight On: Judy Wishnek, Commercial Market Executive, Truliant Federal Credit Union

Spotlight On: Judy Wishnek, Commercial Market Executive, Truliant Federal Credit Union

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020Credit unions are growing at a fast pace across the country and in some cases rivaling banks, with their focus on long-term relationships with their members. North Carolina’s Truliant Federal Credit Union Commercial Market Executive Judy Wishnek says the credit union is well-capitalized and plans to continue to broaden its technology offerings to help it expand in the vibrant Charlotte commercial lending market. 

What is the state of business for banks and credit unions in the middle of the Charlotte boom?

 

Charlotte’s banking and credit unions have all had a great deal of growth, with a lot of people moving to the city. In the banking sector, many new names have entered the market, and credit unions specifically have had impressive growth. All credit unions combined now have about 115 million members nationwide. Truliant, specifically, has over 250,000 members. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal said that credit unions are now going toe to toe with other financial institutions, adding that credit unions’ asset growth is outpacing that of banks, and our industry is very well-capitalized. In Charlotte, Truliant has added nine locations in the last five years, to a total of 12 in the city. In the last year, we also added a commercial lending office.

 

What are the benefits of joining a credit union instead of putting yourself in the hands of a bank?

 

Credit unions are about deeper financial relationships. It is a very personalized type of service with high emphasis on guidance and helping members make the right decisions. We are not focused on the bottom line, because we are a not for profit. It is not a short-term strategy but a long-term strategy of working with our members to help improve their lives and their decision-making. In commercial lending, we have the opportunity to start telling our story and letting people know that we are a great source of financing for commercial real estate.

 

People are looking for lots of options and the ability to make decisions. It is nice that in Charlotte they can work with a credit union that is focused on really understanding their needs and helping them. We are investing in locations close to them, but we are also investing in technology so they have the option of having their financial needs met online or in person.

 

How is technology, such as the eClosings system for mortgages and credit, helping your clients and shaping your business?

 

Offering these efficient loan closings saves people time and money, and it can be done anywhere. There is less chance for error in their filings, and it is more secure, allowing the records to be recorded instantly. It also reduces paperwork, legal fees, mailing and courier costs. We are just excited to be a leader in that space. I think that this is going to be something that is going to spread throughout the country, and North Carolina and Truliant were innovators in getting this to work first.

 

Additionally, we have added a chief digital officer, a digital marketing director, a vice president of digital innovation and a vice president of IT infrastructure. Hiring these specialists has enhanced optimization and automation to ensure we stay on top.

 

What are Truliant’s expansion plans in the region? What is your relationship with the local business community?

 

We continue to look for additional locations, and I think we will continue to find areas to add brick and mortar offices in the Charlotte area. But I think we will continue to add people digitally, because it is very easy to grow our online services.

 

All the folks in the commercial lending office have been here for a very long time and are very involved with the business community. We sit on a number of boards, and we are involved with different organizations. It really is about relationships, and that helps Charlotte work.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://www.truliantfcu.org/

 

Spotlight On: Vito S. Pantilione, President & CEO, Parke Bank

Spotlight On: Vito S. Pantilione, President & CEO, Parke Bank

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read anuary 2020 —  Parke Bank is expanding its lending business, including construction lending, from the South Jersey and Philadelphia areas to North Jersey and New York’s Brooklyn and the Bronx with its lending expertise. Parke Bank has a major Asian client base, which makes it important to keep a careful eye on the politics of the country toward China. Parke is also one of the few banks that provide banking services to the cannabis industry, which also requires careful monitoring of Washington’s ever changing position on the emerging cannabis business, says Vito Pantilione, president & CEO of Parke Bank, in an interview with Invest:.

 

 

What main changes have you observed in the banking and loan business in the South Jersey market?

 

We are in a great location to provide lending and banking services in New Jersey, and the Philadelphia area, in addition to expanding up into the Lehigh Valley area. Because of our growth, we’ve also grown our lending operation to North Jersey, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

 

The banking industry is always changing, I don’t think there is any other industry except maybe insurance where there are as many regulatory changes. There is also a lot more competition, even from nonbanking entities. We embrace competition because it makes you pay more attention and sharpen your pencil.

 

What services are most in demand for an institution like Parke Bank?

 

One of the services we’ve offered since we opened the bank is construction lending. It is a very attractive product, especially because many banks have discontinued this banking product. Even though the regulations for construction lending have become much more stringent, our structure allows us to handle it because we are well-capitalized and we have the experience and expertise. We find that our construction lending product is very attractive in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area and most recently in the Bronx and Brooklyn. We carefully entered the Bronx and Brooklyn markets and now have multiple multifamily projects and commercial loans in these areas.

 

How does the bank support the small business community in South Jersey?

 

We are very active in commercial lending, which includes small business lending. Some of our commercial lending is related to real estate as we have financed many investment properties. We also look at some of the South Jersey markets that need extra services, like startup companies and small companies that need to expand to remain competitive, where it is more difficult to get financing. We look at those sectors and try to establish loans and banking relationships to help support those markets. 

 

Small business lending is important to us. We are a Small Business Administration (SBA) lender, which allows us to provide funding for projects to small businesses that may not fit into the standard bank  financing. The SBA is a perfect vehicle to provide the needed credit enhancement to make those loans possible. That type of lending with small business banking also provides the opportunity for full service banking, bringing much needed deposits.

 

Are there any worries or challenges in the banking industry that Parke Bank is watching?

 

One area in which we’ve been very fortunate is our Asian business. I used to be president of a Chinese bank in Philadelphia, and when I opened this bank in 1999, I was fortunate that a lot of my clients and friends from the Asian bank followed us to Parke Bank. The current Chinese trade situation with the United States is a concern to me personally, which can reduce growth in the Asian market. As far as actual business, it has not really affected us that I can see. We are still getting new Asian customers and we have a branch right in the heart of Chinatown in Philadelphia, with a multilingual staff. We are very proud of that.

 

Another potential challenge is the Banking Secrecy Act, which is of major importance to us because we are one of the few banks in the country to provide banking services to the cannabis industry. We entered the market totally by accident because we had a major customer of the bank who received a permit to open a cannabis dispensary and asked us to finance the building. We loaned him millions of dollars over the years and it wasn’t until two years later that we realized what a major step that was for Parke Bank. At that time, we were one of the very few banks that was even banking cannabis. Now we have about 130 customers, and that is an industry where government regulations are having a big impact. We are very careful to follow the regulations that are in place, given there are really no clear regulations yet in place because it is not legal at the federal level. We are a state-chartered bank doing business with state-approved cannabis businesses. 

 

 

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Parke Bank: https://www.parkebank.com/