SAN FRANCISCO, April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The entrepreneurial, "Go West" spirit that guides Bank of the West is reflected in the growth of its lending to small business owners. Today, the Bank announced during the past three years it increased its lending to small businesses by 245 percent. In 2012, it provided $1.1 billion in small business lending, and in the fourth quarter alone small business loans increased by more than 50 percent from one year earlier and SBA loans increased by more than 20 percent. Commensurate with its growth, the Bank has been expanding its small business team and announced plans for continued expansion, including hiring for a number of new positions.
For 2013, Bank of the West expects to again see double digit growth in its lending to small businesses in both conventional commercial lending and SBA lending. To support that growth, the Bank will continue its investment in people, process, technology and product development.
In the past three years, Bank of the West has increased the number of its small business team members more than tenfold; today, it has nearly 140 client-facing employees and continues to actively recruit across its footprint. Small business-related job postings can be found at http://GoWe.st/BOTWCareers and are based in both large markets such as Denver and Albuquerque and in cities throughout the states of California, Washington, South Dakota and more.
"What sets Bank of the West apart from other banks – and what can't be recreated -- is our team and the customer service we deliver," said Andy Harmening, Senior Executive Vice President, Retail Banking at Bank of the West. "There is a spirit here that drives us to do more, and our small business team –some of the most experienced and tenured bankers in the country – truly embodies this spirit," he said.
Seamless Marriage of Retail Branch Network and Dedicated Small Business Specialists
In building its small business capability, Bank of the West created a local, integrated, branch-centered team approach that specializes in working with business owners to meet all their banking needs, from business financing, cash management and fraud protection to succession planning and personal banking. Bringing together a range of dedicated specialists and leveraging its 700 locations also means that teams are better positioned to understand the industries in which their clients operate – including the competitive marketplace, emerging trends and opportunities. As a result, Bank of the West's various regions reported strong growth during the past three years; among the highlights:
Pacific Northwest: a 188 percent increase in loans
Colorado: a 149 percent increase in loans
Los Angeles: a 137 percent increase in loans
Within specific industry categories, several areas of expertise have developed, from breweries and medical/dental practices to construction firms and wholesalers. Among business owners, the teams are adept at working with a diverse group of clients, including entrepreneurs, franchisees, partnerships and family-, minority- and women-owned businesses.
Beyond client-facing team members, the Bank's significant investments in technology and support functions result in tangible outcomes for small business clients – from quick turn-around loan approval to mobile banking innovations and customized products and tools.
"In our view, we and our small business clients are very like-minded," said Michelle DiGangi, Executive Vice President, Small & Medium Enterprise Banking at Bank of the West. "For business owners, customers are the lifeblood of their success. And we define our success by our relationships with small business clients. As a result, team members are empowered to make decisions at the ground level, proactively solve their clients' challenges and make their dreams a reality. I couldn't be prouder of our team and the unparalleled passion and commitment we have to small business owners," she said.
Further proof can be found in the numerous awards the Bank has repeatedly received from well-regarded third-party organizations; most recently:
In February, Bank of the West was awarded MSR Group's APECS® Customer Advocacy Award, Western Region, for the fourth consecutive year. The award is given to the client retail banking organization receiving the highest Net Advocacy Rating (NAR®) -- one of the strongest indicators of customer retention and increased revenue for financial institutions -- among its customers within their respective region. Bank of the West posted a 2012 NAR® 16 points higher than the 2012 APECS® Western Region Average. According to MSR Group, the rating is significantly higher than many of the nation's largest banks.
In January, the Bank received five 2012 Greenwich Excellence Awards for "distinctive quality" in Middle Market and Small Business Banking.
"Traditionally, our peer group consists of banks with assets ranging from $20B to $200B. For a bank of our size, it's a significant accomplishment to achieve the small business growth that we have during the past three years," said Harmening. "We've proven that our unique approach – the community commitment of a small bank combined with the resources of peers much larger in size – benefits business owners. We're now a preeminent small business banking destination, with the customer service and specialist approach that can only be found at Bank of the West."
About Bank of the West
Founded in 1874, $63 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), member FDIC and equal housing lender, offers a wide range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 600 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees.