Commercial banks emerge from the pandemic

Commercial banks operating in Orange County continue to show that they have weathered the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic well.

The 45 banks on the Business Journal’s annual list said deposits rose 15% to $174.9 billion for the period ending June 30, 2021. A year ago, bank deposits soared by 23%. In contrast, deposit growth over the previous three years was 5.4% in 2019, 2.1% in 2018 and 9% in 2017.

Twenty-seven of the banks reported double-digit deposit growth.

However, the industry’s workforce in Orange County continues to decline, falling 5.5% to 15,237. The number of branches also fell to 569 from 588 a year ago. Only one bank increased the number of its branches on this year’s list.

BofA Tops

For the fourth consecutive year, Bank of America Corp. won the top spot as its deposits soared 14% to $31 billion, a stunning $6 billion increase from two years prior.

“We had double-digit growth in new customers and new accounts,” said Alexandria Bravo, who leads the Orange County retail unit for Bank of America. “This is one of the strongest new customer growths we’ve had in years.”

One of the reasons for this growth is its “digital first” program which emphasizes convenient new technologies, so customers don’t have to visit branches to do their banking.

Another reason was its rewards program, which customers “love,” Bravo said. A third reason was awareness of various markets where Bank of America ensures that its representatives can speak languages ​​such as Vietnamese or Spanish.

“That focus helped expedite customers,” Bravo said.

Hot on his trail was No. 2 Wells Fargo, which before BofA was the largest in Orange County; its OC deposits grew 14% to $30.5 billion. The bank halted the evacuation of its deposits following a national accounts fraud scandal. In 2020, deposits increased by 21%.

However, its number of employees continues to decline, dropping 14% to 1,946. It had fallen 16% the previous year. Nonetheless, it is increasing its OC branches to 104 from 93 a year ago.

No. 3 JPMorgan Chase & Co. reported another banner year, increasing deposits 26% to $27.1 billion. A year earlier, deposits had jumped 28%.

The strong growth of Umpqua

The list ranks commercial banks with branches here and a minimum of $200 million in local deposits based on data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The FDIC lists 65 other banks with offices in Orange County that do not meet the $200 million minimum for business. List of journals.

The banks provided information on local employees and branches, statistics that are not taken into account in the rankings.

The biggest producer on the list was Umpqua Bank, which increased deposits 167% to $597.4 million.

“Our Newport Beach office is doing incredibly well,” said Richard Cabrera, head of corporate and commercial banking for Umpqua who works out of the Newport Beach office. “It is one of the most efficient, if not the best, of our system.”

He said the Portland, Oregon-based bank (Nasdaq: UMPQ) will soon have more resources following its $5 billion merger with Columbia Banking Systems (Nasdaq: COLB). The combined entity will become one of the largest banks on the West Coast with over $50 billion in assets. The transaction should be finalized around next summer.

Notable declines

• Seven banks reported lower deposits, compared to four banks the previous year, nine in 2019 and 16 in 2018.

The biggest drop was 20% at Pacific Western Bank to $3.1 billion.

• Deposits fell about 1% at Santa Ana-based Banc of California Inc. to $3.6 billion.

CEO Jared Wolff has embarked on a strategy to eliminate high-yielding deposits in favor of relationship banking where deposits do not earn interest.

Deposits are expected to rise in next year’s roster as Banc of California completed its acquisition last October of Costa Mesa-based Pacific Mercantile Bancrop, which brings in $1.3 billion in deposits.

n Irvine’s Commercial Bank of California moved up four places to 23rd place as its OC deposits rose 25% to $1.1 billion.

Loans made during the pandemic, called Personal Protection Program (PPP), have helped the bank, CEO Ash Patel told the Business Journal.

“We ended up attracting a lot more customers than expected through the digital channel, which grew by 60%,” Patel said.

“When omicron hit, we had more customers because the big banks weren’t serving them as well.”

Growing industries include education, automotive, e-commerce and healthcare, while declining industries are hotels, restaurants and services, Patel said.

The focus on technology has also helped attract more customers, he said.

“We are focused on technology acquisitions,” Patel said. “We will continue to look for technology platforms. Most banks are trying to become fintech. We are no different.

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