2 min read November 2021 — In an interview with Invest:, Rick Pullum, president of One Florida Bank, discussed the lender’s background and success as a new player in the Central Florida landscape. “I think that the demand for what we are doing as a local bank and the businesses we deal with demonstrate that there is a very high value on decisions being made locally and then making a local impact in the community,” Pullum said.
How has the demand for your services changed over the past 18 months?
We’re a group of bankers who have worked together for a very long time in the Central Florida market. It’s a team with deep roots in the community and we have a loyal customer following. We’re a new organization. We started in January, 2019 and we’ve grown exponentially. We started by acquiring a very small $48 million branch bank in the Panhandle. We moved the headquarters here to Orlando in January 2019 and we’re now over $1 billion in total assets.
Most banks today are flush with cash on deposits because of the CARES Act and are having a hard time with loan demand, but we’re not at One Florida Bank. We primarily focus on business lending plus a robust residential mortgage platform. Because our focus is not on retail consumer loans or credit cards, we work hard to build services and tools for our business-focused clients.
Our strong loan demand is driven by our experienced banking team who have invested years in relationship building with our clients. The result is new and existing loans moving to our bank because our clients bank with the banker they know and trust.
We’ve been successful in maintaining an 80% loan to deposit ratio throughout our whole growth cycle. We invested heavily in our cash management platform because of the commercial nature of our business and most clients expect the full digital suite of products. We’ve invested in building those products and they’ve been well received.
I think that the demand for what we are doing as a local bank and the businesses we deal with demonstrate that there is a very high value on decisions being made locally and then making a local impact in the community.
How has technology transformed your business in the last year?
When the pandemic hit, we were able to send everyone home. We were set up for that right from the beginning. Now, we’ve brought most people back into the office. Culture is a huge thing for us, not only because it’s important but also because with our growth numbers it’s very difficult to not be together to collaborate. My goal all along was to get people back together as quickly as possible, which we’ve done.
I have to say that the last year fundamentally changed the way employees think about work and they are demanding more flexibility. We’re looking at the potential for some flexibility, maybe office sharing, where some people work from home a few days a week. Thankfully, our technology platform, from the operating environment standpoint, has been great through this point.
Our banking business was already headed to a more digital environment and we recognize all the different bells and whistles that both consumers and businesses demand from a delivery standpoint. We’ve found that our customer base wants it all. They want to be able to come into the branch but they also don’t want to have to. We’ve invested in what we call an omnichannel delivery, where you can have it all. I think the pandemic, as you’ve probably heard before, just fast-forwarded the acceptance of these new types of technologies.
How do you operate in a low-interest-rate environment and with the risk of inflation?
The key for us is credit quality. The most important element is taking the right risk and selecting the right client. You need to have a very robust credit department with a thorough underwriting process, and know your customers, which is how we operate. With low interest rates, you don’t have a whole lot of margin for error on the credit side because the margin on the spread is so thin. We try to keep a concentration in our funding deposit from very low-cost deposits and that’s how we’re managing.
Regarding inflation, the key factor is that we don’t know if it’s transitory or if we’re looking at a long-term situation. We’re watching it very closely but I’m not overly concerned because, since we emphasize a relationship-based approach to banking, our portfolio is made up of customers that we know and is a balanced portfolio in terms of risk.
What is the outlook for your bank and the local banking industry?
I don’t believe that our growth trajectory is going to stop as the number of people moving to Central Florida every day is just going to continue to drive growth here. The banking industry as a whole is likely going to continue to see consolidation because the cost of being in banking requires more than it did a decade ago, so you need to get bigger. It was a goal of ours to get over the $1 billion mark as quickly as we could, and we got there. As banks require scale to operate, consolidation is going to continue moving forward.
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