Bank battles |

Bank battles

Judith Harlan

Two banks Business Bank and Nevada First Bank recently opened shop in the Reno-Sparks area, adding to the bank-onevery- corner sense that Renoites have begun to feel.

This area is a very competitive market, says Roger Ashby, regional president of northern Nevada for the Las Vegas-based Nevada First Bank.

It opened a Reno branch in January.

But the economy is growing.

“Nevada, statewide, is one of the fastest growing markets in the world,” says Jerry Gregory, senior vice president and northern region manager for Business Bank.

The 10-year-old, Las Vegasbased Business Bank has been in Carson City for five years, opened a branch in Minden in 2003 and opened doors in Reno in December 2004.

It’s here for a slice of the northern Nevada banking pie.And worried about getting a slice of it? Not at all, says Gregory.”There should always be a piece of pie for you, especially in this market.” Slices of pie market share.

Enough to go around.And how does a bank make sure its slice is big enough? And growing? Every bank has a plan.


Bank is getting a big boost from its corporate parent, U.S.

Bancorp, which has branches in 24 states.

Its Las Vegas and Reno bankers handle all of its gaming business nationwide a big feather in the Nevada region’s banking cap but what really got the attention of national, says Jack W.

Prescott, senior vice president and team leader, commercial banking, for U.S.

Bank, is the tremendous growth in the Reno area.

“It’s one of the fastest growing markets in the company,” he says.

The folks at national impressed are spending money to increase U.S.

Bank’s northern Nevada market share.

The money shows up in advertising billboards, print, and broadcast.

But mostly, says Prescott,U.S.

Bank’s strategy is in its branches.

It has 10 branches in the Reno-Sparks area, including three in-store shops.

Some may be relocated.

This year the bank plans to open a branch in the Reno/Sparks area.

Then one or two per year for the next five years, says Terry McQuattie, U.S.

Bank vice president and district manager.

Branches,McQuattie says, are the foundation of U.S.

Bank’s strategy for growth.

Both consumer and commercial business, he says, improve with convenient branch access.

With more branches come more branch managers, all of them charged with participating in the community.

Spreading positive word-of-mouth.

Word of mouth people.Underlying all conversations about what thickens a bank’s slice of the pie are people.

“Word of mouth drives business,” says Chad Osorno, senior vice president and manager of Nevada business banking for Wells Fargo.

Not just in Nevada, but for financial services everywhere, says Osorno, the experience of each individual counts.

Those informal anecdotes people tell about their experiences when they walked into a bank, about how expert the service was, thickens or shrinks a bank’s share of the market.

So,what’s Wells Fargo, the most successful bank in the area going to do to strengthen its share? Part of the plan is in training, in a coaching system whereby managers and supervisors take ongoing responsibility for staff coaching.

Wells Fargo, which already has a breadth of financial services at all levels, from consumers to major investment analysis,with upwards of 107 branches in Nevada and more than 3,100 nationwide, focuses on its people.

On individuals, says Osorno.

Word of mouth crops up in each and every market share discussion.Northern Nevada is still a small town community, says Gregory at Business Bank.”That networking and referral system pays big dividends,” he says.And underlying all of it is the staff.

People are where Business Bank is putting its first efforts, says Gregory.

Ashby adds that Nevada First Bank also sees people as a competitive edge for community banks.He’s focusing on recruiting, and planning to add two to three new directors in northern Nevada, as well as additional lenders.

Jim DeVolld, executive vice president and chief credit officer of First Independent Bank of Nevada, is reporting upwards of $79 million in growth of total assets in the second half of 2004.And where is it coming from? “It’s the building,” says DeVolld.

And the people in it.

First Independent built a landmark headquarters building on Kietzke, opening its doors in September 2004.

The building is bringing people in off the streets who may not have come in before, he says.

The folks at the bank hoped for that when they invested in the $5 million building.

But also, the building has created momentum behind First Independent doors in productivity and motivation.”Everyone in the building went up 10 notches,” he says,when they moved into the building.

It all comes back to the people.

“Reno is one of those towns where people are important,” says DeVolld.

First Independent, a five-year-old institution, opened a branch on Robb Drive in December 2004, its third location, and has also opened a Fallon loan production office.Meanwhile, it’s studying Fallon sites for a full branch office.

First National Bank of Nevada, says Dennis E.Williams, president of community banking, is grooming its own future people, pulling potential lenders in as interns and training them.

“It’s hard to find good people in this market,” he says.”And community banks work hard to keep their people.” Opening branches, adding staff, getting people in place all over the Truckee Meadows other community banks also echo the words of U.S.

Bank and Wells Fargo.

Heritage Bank is scouting for a Sparks location, says Stan Wilmoth, the bank’s chief executive officer and president.With three branches in Reno and one in Carson City, Heritage is on target, he says, and has grown substantially over the last six months.

Nevada Security Bank, which branched into California last year, is planning an April opening for Silverado Bank, a division of Nevada Security Bank located in Roseville.

The bank has its eye on the I-80 corridor, says Dave Funk, the bank’s president and director.

Nevada Security also is eager to open a Sparks branch, and is hoping to achieve that in 2006.

Northern Nevada Bank, with its headquarters in Reno and a branch in Carson City, is also planning to open a new Reno or Sparks branch, and is studying locations for construction to begin in mid-summer and the branch to open in 2006.

Robert Hemsath, chief executive officer and president of Northern Nevada Bank, says the bank has great momentum.

“If community banking does well,we all do well,” says Hemsath.

Adds Wells Fargo’s Osorno: “If the pie gets bigger, there’s more for everyone.

But every financial institution would like a higher market share.

That’s a free market.”


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