2 min read December 2021 — “Our goal is to deliver an exceptional banking experience,” said Tony Rocco, President of the WPA Market at WesBanco Bank, Inc. in a conversation with Invest:. Along with detailing how the bank is unique, he shared the various reasons why the Pittsburgh region is a great market as well as the important changes in the bank’s technological infrastructure.
What makes the Pittsburgh region a great market?
Pittsburgh was historically an industrial-based city that has made a significant transformation into a vibrant and diversified economy driven by innovation. We have basic strengths in advanced manufacturing, technology, healthcare, education and financial services. Organizations like UPMC, Allegheny Health Network, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh provide the region with a strong foundation in healthcare, education and technology. We continue to add extra layers to that foundation with companies like Uber, Google, Facebook, and many other tech startups, as well as the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant, that are creating excitement and greater economic opportunities. Moreover, we have rivers, waterways, parks, great sports teams and a variety of other cultural attractions that are appealing to a range of people. The suburbs are also easily connected to the city with an easy commute between destinations along with an affordable cost of living, another aspect that makes Pittsburgh an attractive market.
What differentiates WesBanco from competitors and how have the demands for your services shifted?
We have an extensive product offering that includes a strong digital banking platform, for both retail and business customers. Our unique ‘Better Banking Pledge’ places a focused emphasis on customer service, which is easier said than done. We do our best to provide quality service to our customers. We make banking easy, like it should be, by making our services available to our customers whenever they may need them, which is a digital aspect of our product offerings. We’ve found that people often like to utilize the digital space because it’s convenient, but they still want to have the ability to get connected with one of our representatives when needed. We provide the digital platform along with that connection with a real person on the other end of the line, which distinguishes us.
We’ve been named one of the best banks in America by Forbes for the past 11 years, being in the Top 15 for the last two years. Bauer Financial Inc. regularly awards us their highest rating as a five-star bank. We were named one of the world’s best banks by Forbes for the third consecutive year, which is especially important to us as this award is based on customer satisfaction and feedback. We scored well for satisfaction, customer services, financial advice and digital services. We were also a part of Newsweek Magazine’s ranking as one of the best banks in America for the second consecutive year, which recognizes those financial institutions that best serve their customers’ needs. We’re honored by these accolades as it substantiates our history for providing quality service, and we take pride in maintaining our roots as a community bank, an aspect of our DNA that reminds us to focus on our customers and communities every day.
We have a 100-year history of trust and wealth management services that has grown to $5.5 billion in assets under management (as of 9/30/2021), which highlights our strength in this area. We have also experienced strong growth in deposits throughout the pandemic, as well as record levels of residential mortgage lending in both 2020 and 2021. Business lending was also robust in 2020, but slowed somewhat in 2021 due to supply chain and workforce constraints, however we’re seeing an increase in activity as the pandemic comes to a close.
What are your primary focal points when developing your technological infrastructure?
Our primary focal point is the speed, deliverability and ease of using the technological infrastructures that we provide. Much of our work focuses on the needs of the customer and what they want, so we do our best to build our platforms to meet those needs. In August 2021, we completed our core banking software system conversion through a significant investment in new technology that will allow us to continue to build upon and enhance our digital platform and services for years to come.This project was one of the largest undertakings in our company’s history as we worked on this project to upgrade and integrate all of our systems, making them more nimble and enabling us to provide additional state-of-the-art services to our customers.
What is your outlook for the region for the near term?
There were 115 bank mergers in 2019 while there were 260 in 2020, a trend that is expected to continue into the future. The biggest driver for this is the low interest rate environment, which puts pressure on spreads and margins. It’s important for banks to be efficient while also investing in new products and technology, all of which contribute to the opportunities for mergers and the need for them. We’re well positioned to compete at our current size. As we continue to focus on organic growth, we’re actively looking to expand our team. We want to add positions in commercial lending and hire more mortgage loan officers as well as attract talent to work in our IT and other support departments. We are also looking for more personal bankers, licensed bankers and banking center managers.
I believe there will be a tremendous opportunity for well positioned banks like WesBanco. It’s important to attract, develop and retain talented individuals to drive growth and support our customers. Our top priorities will be remaining strong in the digital arena and organically expanding our customer base across our markets. I’m optimistic and excited about the future of the Pittsburgh market.
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