Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BofA, Wells donate $1 million each to Sandy relief

Bank of America and Wells Fargo have each announced they are donating $1 million toward Hurricane Sandy relief.

Bank of America's donation includes $500,000 to the American Red Cross hurricane fund. The other half will be given to national, regional and local nonprofits, the bank said.

The Charlotte bank is also refunding some overdraft fees and ATM fees incurred by customers because of the storm. Other customers affected can get credit line increases or avoid early withdrawal penalties on CDs.

“We have customers and employees throughout the hardest hit region and their safety is our main consideration,” CEO Brian Moynihan said in a statement. “As we do what we can to help them through this, we also are doing our part to help get relief to communities affected."

Wells Fargo is giving $250,000 to the American Red Cross and will divide the remaining $750,000 among nonprofits as needed, the bank said. Wells will also collect Red Cross donations at its ATMs.

The bank is also expanding its mobile deposit service into the affected states and is waiving late fees for credit cards and loans, as well as ATM fees, for affected customers.

Financial markets reopened Wednesday morning, and the Dow average was largely unchanged by midday.

Bank of America also reopened branches in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Washington D.C. and upstate New York.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Markets closed again as region recovers from Sandy

U.S. financial markets are closed again Tuesday, the longest shut-down due to weather since 1888, Bloomberg reports.

Many traders and other bankers in the Northeast are staying home as flooding subsides and the region takes stock of the damage.

Bank of America branches in all or parts of 10 states and the District of Columbia are closed. A number of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management offices are closed as well.

Customers affected can visit a webpage the bank set up or call 1-800-432-1000. The bank stressed that it is open for business.

"All customer and client services, aside from the banking centers that have been closed in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy, are unaffected," spokesman Mark Pipitone said in an email.

Where branches are closed: New York City, parts of upstate New York, northern Virginia, and all of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Charlotte Metro Credit Union touts growth

Charlotte Metro Credit Union is launching an ad campaign to tout its growth one year after anti-bank activists held a "Bank Transfer Day."

The credit union says it has gained 3,000 members in the first half of this year, a 13 percent growth rate. Charlotte Metro says that makes it the fastest growing among credit unions with between $1 million and $1 billion in assets in North Carolina.

A direct mail campaign will target baby boomers, Generation X and millenials, the credit union says. Mailers will say the credit union offers better rates and better service than big banks while using similar technology.

"We want to grow even more," President Bob Bruns said in a statement.

Charlotte Metro has about $287 million in assets, ranking it as a mid-size credit union. The state's largest -- State Employees Credit Union -- has more than $25 billion in assets.

Bank Transfer Day, held early last November, gained steam online and urged people to move their deposits from banks to credit unions. Leaders initially touted their success, but an industry group later dramatically revised downward the results. Banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo have reported deposit growth.

BofA, Wells closing some offices as Sandy nears

Bank of America and Wells Fargo have each shut down some of their offices in the Northeast as the region prepares for Hurricane Sandy.

All New York City branches are closed Monday, as are Merrill Lynch Wealth Management offices in New York and Mid-Atlantic states.

The Charlotte bank's New York headquarters building, One Bryant Park, remains open. Two and Four World Financial Centers are closed. The investment bank is operating with a "skeleton staff," and many employees are working from home, spokesman John Yiannacopoulos said.

The bank is working with state and local officials and will work with customers affected by the storm "on a case-by-case basis," spokesman Mark Pipitone said.

"The safety and security of our employees, customers and clients are the main consideration as we closely monitor the situation, and that will help drive our decision-making," Pipitone said in a statement.

Wells Fargo has closed more than 200 branches in the Northeast, mostly in New York and Connecticut, spokeswoman Alexandra Ball said.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and have plans in place to ensure there is as little impact to our operations as possible," Ball said in an e-mail.

Financial world halts as Sandy nears

U.S. financial markets are closed and numerous Wall Street banks are keeping traders home as Hurricane Sandy barrels toward the Northeast.

It's the first unscheduled market-wide halt since the September 2001, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Bank of America has not given specifics of its plan to deal with the hurricane, Bloomberg says.

Stock prices worldwide have fallen.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Libor probe reaches Bank of America

A probe into allegations that banks conspired to rig the Libor interest rate has reached Bank of America, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Bank of America was one of nine banks served subpoenas during an investigation by state prosecutors, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.

The Charlotte bank had already disclosed that it had received subpoenas and other requests from a number of regulatory agencies looking into the issue.

Other news stories this morning:

Countrywide costs. The legal costs stemming from the ill-fated acquisition of Countrywide Financial by Bank of America is at $40 billion and counting after a lawsuit from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, The New York Times says. U.S. News and World Report says the suit is an example of why it's now so difficult to get a mortgage.

CEO tenure. Guess which big-bank CEO has been in his job the longest? It's Jim Rohr, head of PNC Financial, who took over the helm in 2000. His secret? Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Rohr and analysts say it's been being "conservative and opportunistic."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yadkin Valley Financial raises $45 million in capital

Yadkin Valley Financial Corp. announced Thursday that it has finished a $45 million capital raise that the bank will use to work troubled loans and foreclosed real estate off its books.

Institutional investors and bank executives bought $45 million in preferred stock that will convert to more than 16 million shares of common stock pending a shareholder vote. The money will be used to deal with $67 million of problem assets, including $50 million in troubled loans.

"This capital raise is the result of many months of internal work to determine the best strategy for the company to improve its capital ratios and risk profile," CEO Joe Towell said in a statement. "With a bolstered capital position and an improving credit profile, we are looking toward the opportunities available to us as we serve our customers throughout the Carolinas."

The Elkin-based company operates American Community Bank in Charlotte.

The announcement came in conjunction with the bank's third-quarter earnings report. Yadkin Valley reported a loss of $81,000 in the quarter, or zero cents per share -- which the bank called a "breakeven" quarter.

The bank earned $2.9 million -- 15 cents per share -- in the third quarter last year.

The amount of the capital raise is roughly in line with the Troubled Asset Relief Program preferred stock investment the U.S. Treasury auctioned off last month. Yadkin Valley had received $49 million through the bailout program. It was sold to investors for $43.5 million.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NewDominion Bank makes 'best savings account rates' list

Charlotte-based NewDominion Bank made a list of the highest savings account interest rates in the country, assembled by

The bank clocked in at No. 91, with an interest rate of 0.55 percent. The highest was the Houston Police Credit Union, with 1.51 percent. said it surveyed 4,000 banks and credit unions around the country.

The only other North Carolina institution to make the list was the BCBSNC Credit Union in Durham, at No. 95 with a 0.51 percent yield.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Moynihan touts bank's 'top capital' at Charlotte meeting

Welcome to the morning roundup. Here's a look at what's news in banking and finance.

Moynihan touts capital. In a staff meeting in Charlotte, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan touted the bank's "top capital in the industry," after spending much of the past few years working to build it, Bloomberg reports. "We’re going to officially declare victory on one of those operating principles,” he reportedly said at the town-hall meeting.

Wells tops $1B in SBA loans. Wells Fargo announced Monday that it topped $1 billion in Small Business Administration-backed loans in the last fiscal year, the only bank to do so. Wells is the top SBA lender in dollars in North Carolina and 14 other states.

Frank defends JPMorgan. U.S. Rep. Barney Frank has come to JPMorgan Chase's defense as the country's largest bank faces a government lawsuit over alleged wrongdoing at Bear Stearns, which JPMorgan bought during the financial crisis, Reuters reports. Frank said the bank did the country a "favor" by taking over the investment bank.

Ally sells Canadian business. Ally Financial announced Tuesday that it is selling its Canadian operations to RBC in a $4 billion deal, The New York Times reports. Ally is still trying to repay its government bailout.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Carolinas' 529 plans gets bronze ratings

The 529 college savings plans in both North Carolina and South Carolina received bronze stars in this year's rankings from Morningstar, which identify plans the firm's analysts expect to perform better than their peers, taking risk into account, in both up and down markets.

Four state plans -- Alaska, Maryland, Utah and Nevada -- got gold star ratings. Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia were given silver stars.

The Carolinas joined 17 other state plans in bronze ratings. All had "well-executed strategies at a fair price," Morningstar wrote. South Carolina's two plans were on this list.

Thirty-three plans got neutral ratings, and four -- Kansas, Minnesota, and two in Rhode Island -- were negative.

Aquesta Bank posts profit in third quarter

Aquesta Bank reported a profit of $315,000 in the third quarter as the Cornelius bank set aside 98 percent less for bad loans.

The bank lost $859,000 in the same quarter last year after setting having to reserve $1.7 million for loan losses. That amount fell to $25,000 in the third quarter this year.

“We are very pleased to report Aquesta’s second consecutive quarter of record earnings," CEO Jim Engel said in a statement. "Although we have a lot of work ahead of us, our operating income, core deposit growth and asset quality all reflect tremendous improvement since the lows of the recession.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Want to make money from drought?

With more than half of the country in drought, investors have an opportunity to make money in food, water and energy conservation, according to a new report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

In part because of drought, food and energy demand is expected to grow 30 percent by 2030, and water demand to grow 40 percent. Crop commodity prices are likely to tighten over the next year, then ease.

The bank has put together a new Bloomberg terminal screen to track stocks tied to water, fertilizer, crop science, energy efficiency, biofuels and renewable energy.

“Food, water and energy security are increasingly bigger issues, and as governments, businesses and other players struggle to adapt to and mitigate drought conditions, there will be an evolving set of opportunities and risks for investors," equity strategist and co-author Sarbjit Nahal said in a statement.
The report is the latest in a series of "megatrend" investing advice from Merrill. In July, the bank put out a report on investing off of the obesity epidemic.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

BB&T latest victim of cyberattacks on banks

BB&T has become the latest bank affected by website slowdowns, which the bank acknowledged Wednesday were the result of a cyberattack, according to industry publication Bank Info Security.

Customers will still reporting issues with accessing their online accounts with the Winston-Salem bank midday Thursday, according to

In mid-September, Bank of America was one of the first to be affected by website slowdowns, though the bank would not confirm they were the result of a cyberattack. They quickly spread to Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and PNC.

Both Bank of America and Wells Fargo said that no customer information was compromised.

This week, the attacks were renewed, Bank Info Security says, hitting Regions Financial, SunTrust and Capital One.

BB&T earnings jump 28 percent, shares fall

BB&T's reported Thursday that its earnings jumped 28 percent in the third quarter, but investors sent its stock tumbling as the results fell below expectations.

The Winston-Salem bank reported earning $469 million in the quarter, or 66 cents per share. That's up from $366 million -- 55 cents per share -- in the same time period last year.

But analysts had predicted earnings of 70 cents per share in the third quarter, and BB&T's profit clocked in below the quarter before as the bank absorbed costs from its acquisitions of Florida-based BankAtlantic and Crump Insurance.

The bank's stock price closed down more than 7 percent Thursday, to $29.98.

BB&T's profit was driven by a 63  percent jump in mortgage banking income as refinancings continue.

"We are pleased to report very strong results for the third quarter," CEO Kelly King said in a statement.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bank of America hits $4.75 billion in principal reduction

Bank of America announced Wednesday that it has now forgiven $4.75 billion in first mortgage principal under the terms of the national mortgage settlement it signed with four other large banks this spring.

About 30,000 homeowners had been approved for principal forgiveness as of Sept. 30, meaning they had started a trial modification or made the required three payments to make a trial permanent.

The average reduction for homeowners in the program was $145,000, the bank said. Their average monthly payment dropped 35 percent.

They principal forgiveness will go toward the $7.6 billion of homeowner assistance the Charlotte bank is required to provide as its part of the $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement reached with state attorneys general and federal agencies.

UPDATE Thursday: More than 400 homeowners in North Carolina have been approved for principal forgiveness, totaling more than $26 million.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bank of Commerce earns small profit

Charlotte-based Bank of Commerce posted a small profit in the third quarter, reversing a loss from a year ago, the bank said Tuesday.

The local commercial bank earned $33,000 in the quarter, compared with a loss of $737,000 in the same time period last year. The bank's interest income shrunk 20 percent, but it also set aside significantly less for loan losses.

"2012 is proving to be a good year for our bank, this despite the fact that the overall rate of economic growth in the Charlotte area remains rather anemic," CEO Wes Sturges said in a statement. "Our lenders are developing new business relationships and expanding services to existing customers to enable companies to grow their facilities, hire new employees and do their part to improve Charlotte's economic health and well-being."

The results mark the bank's third straight quarter of profitability.

Citigroup CEO steps down

Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, who this spring failed a "say-on-pay" vote in an unprecedented shareholder vote, has stepped down from his role, the bank announced Tuesday.

He was replaced by the bank's board by Michael Corbat, who had been Citigroup's CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

John P. Havens, Citigroup's president and chief operating officer, also resigned.

Pandit took the CEO role in December 2007 and presided over the bank during the financial crisis and the slow recovery from it.

On Monday, Citigroup turned in surprisingly positive third-quarter results.

Other headlines this morning:

Goldman boosts profit. Investment bank Goldman Sachs' profit grew by nearly half in the third quarter spurred by debt underwriting, The Wall Street Journal reports

PNC rides mortgages. PNC Financial, a new player in Charlotte, reported third quarter earnings up 11 percent driven by mortgage banking, Bloomberg says. Refinancings have been a bright spot for a number of banks, most notably Wells Fargo.

BofA reports tomorrow. Bank of America reports its third quarter results early Wednesday.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wells Fargo has most 'Main Street' deposits

It may be far from the largest on Wall Street, but Wells Fargo has more "Main Street" deposits than any other U.S. bank, according to an analysis of FDIC data by SNL Financial.

SNL arrived at the figures by stripping out deposits housed in "megabranches" with $750 million or more. Those large branches often house large corporate deposits that can skew market share calculations. SNL's numbers are intended to give a better picture of the typical branch performance.

By that measure, Wells Fargo had $553 billion in Main Street deposits, a 9.83 percent market share. Bank of America came in second, with $465 billion or 8.27 percent share.

Including "megabranch" deposits, Bank of America is the largest in the U.S. with $1.1 trillion.

Wells' acquisition of Wachovia propelled it to the top spot, more than doubling its retail deposits and market share from 2007.

Homeowners start class-action suit over Libor

A group of Alabama homeowners have filed a lawsuit against Bank of America and other large global banks, seeking to represent anyone who took out an adjustable-rate mortgage tied to the Libor interest rate that could have been harmed by the alleged rate-rigging scandal.

The suit was filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York and is seeking class-action status.

The homeowners, who live in the Mobile area, each had a mortgage indexed to the Libor rate that would reset monthly. The lawsuit states that because a number of banks conspired to keep the Libor rate artificially high, they were forced to pay more than they should have.

The defendant banks are members of the panel that helped set the Libor rate by submitting their interbank borrowing rates. Barclays settled charges in June that its employees manipulated the rate for $453 million.

Bank of America and a number of the others have disclosed in regulatory filings that they have received subpoenas and other requests from regulators investigating their potential participation in Libor manipulation.

Reverse mortgage default rates at record highs

Welcome to the morning roundup. Here's a look at what's news in banking and finance this morning.

Reverse mortgage abuses. Regulators are finding new instances of abuses in the long-troubled reverse mortgage market, The New York Times says, forcing seniors out of their homes as baby boomers hit retirement. A number of banks, including Bank of America, have already gotten out of the business. Still, default rates are at record highs.

Fed governor pushes limits. Federal Reserve governor Daniel Tarullo said in a speech at the University of Pennsylvania's law school that the Fed needs to do more to limit the too-big-to-fail perception that is artificially backstopping the country's biggest banks, which a Bloomberg column says marks a change of mindset in the central bank.

Citigroup earnings. Citigroup emerged with a half-billion-dollar profit that surprised analysts in a noisy quarter marked by tax gains, higher bond-trading revenue and a $3 billion writedown on Smith Barney, Bloomberg reports. Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase kicked off earnings season Friday, and Bank of America will report results Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Citizens South rebrands, Park Sterling launches ad campaign

A week after its acquisition closed, Citizens South's 21 branches have now become Park Sterling Bank locations, the bank announced Wednesday morning.

The combined bank has also launched a new ad campaign, with the slogan: "What do you get when two strong banks merge? A choice you've never had before."

"The campaign ensures our communities and customers that the resources of a larger bank are now available without sacrificing the personal and friendly service they've come to expect from a community bank," CEO Jim Cherry said in a statement.

Park Sterling Bank now has about $2 billion in assets and 45 branches in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wells Fargo, one year later: How's it gone?

One year ago Monday, Wells Fargo took down the final temporary Wachovia banners at its branches, officially retiring the century-old North Carolina brand.

It marked the end of a three-year transition since Wells bought the Charlotte bank at the height of the financial crisis.

Over the next year, customers adapted to new online banking and bill pay, as well as the new color scheme. Employees learned new systems, new products and a new culture.

To both groups: How has the past year gone?

Feel free to post a comment, but what I'd really like is to hear from you directly. Please give me a call at 704-358-5235 or send an email,

Don't expect Wal-Mart to become Bank of America

Welcome to the morning roundup. Here's a look at what's news in banking and finance.

Wal-Mart no BofA. Even though Wal-Mart and American Express announced yesterday that they are teaming up to provide a lower-income banking option that rivals that of some of its big-bank peers, says not to expect them to provide an alternative that rallies the masses. Instead, they're more likely to develop some ideas big banks can adopt.

Libor losses. The Libor-manipulation that led to the massive penalty against Barclays and numerous other investigations will likely cost state and local governments upwards of $6 billion, according to an analysis by the Swap Financial Group, Bloomberg reports. That would add to the $4 billion in losses interest rate swaps have already cost U.S. governments after interest rates plummeted. North Carolina is among the states examining its exposure.

Julius Baer cutting jobs. Julius Baer, the Swiss bank that bought Bank of America's overseas private banking, is expected to cut more than 1,000 jobs beginning next year after the BofA deal closes, The New York Times reports. The cuts are to make the acquired unit -- which lost $30 million in the first half of this year -- profitable.

Merrill plaintiff lawyer unsatisfied. The plaintiff's lawyer in the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch acquisition shareholder suit, Max Berger, has now won six securities suits of more than $1 billion, The New York Times reports. But he doesn't see any substantive change. "It gives us a lot of business, but it still makes me sad,” he tells the Times.

More on Wall Street expect bigger bonuses. Almost half of Wall Street traders expect a larger bonus this year, according to an online survey, Bloomberg reports. That's up from the 41 percent who said the same thing last year.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Charlotte deposit growth second-highest in U.S.

The Charlotte area posted the second-highest deposit growth out of major U.S. metropolitan areas, according to an SNL Financial analysis of data released last week by the FDIC.

The Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill area's deposits grew 25 percent, to $201 billion in deposits. Charlotte was bested only by the much larger Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area in Minnesota, which jumped 44 percent to $159 billion in deposits.

The SNL analysis was limited to metropolitan areas of more than 1 million people. Charlotte clocks in at about 1.8 million.

The FDIC's numbers can be skewed by the presence of corporate deposits at a bank's headquarters. Charlotte, of course, is influenced by Bank of America's corporate deposits. The fast-growing U.S. Bancorp is based in Minneapolis.

AG Cooper joins protest of federal payday lending bill

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper has signed on to a letter to U.S. Congress leaders protesting a bill that would preempt state laws limiting payday lending and predatory financial practices.

The bill would allow companies that serve the "underbanked" to receive a federal charter, and thus be able to skirt state regulations. Advocates say they will let these underserved people access more financial products that traditional banks can't or won't offer them.

But many states, including North Carolina, have enacted tougher laws regulating services to the underbanked, and North Carolina has an outright ban on payday loans.

Forty other state attorneys general have signed the letter as well.

“States are on the front lines of consumer protection. We hear daily from consumers about the problems they face and can react more quickly than Washington to put new protections in place when needed,” Cooper said in a statement. “It makes no sense for Congress to undermine our ability to protect people here in North Carolina.”

Bank stocks expected to rise in coming weeks

Welcome to the morning roundup. Here's a look at what's news in banking and finance.

Banks stocks on the rise. Market analysts expect the financial sector to be among the biggest winners as third-quarter earnings season rolls around, Bloomberg says (Wells and JPMorgan report this Friday). Though bank stocks are already up more than 20 percent this year, they remain more than 50 percent below pre-recession highs.

Walmart, AmEx create prepaid card. Walmart and American Express are jointly launching a reloadable prepaid debit card that will have more features than the prepaid MoneyCard the retail giant currently offers, the Associated Press reports. It should be available next week, and includes a direct deposit option.

Libor losing prestige. Post rigging-scandal, the Libor interest rate is now being set by a smaller core group of banks, making it all the more difficult to restore trust in the benchmark, Bloomberg says. Bank of America remains in the group setting Libor. The industry generally agrees that keeping the benchmark is vital, since so many contracts are dependent on it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bank of America still tops in U.S. deposits

Bank of America held on to its spot as the bank with the most U.S. deposits, with 12.62 percent of the nation's deposit share as of June 30, according to analysis of this week's FDIC market share data by SNL Financial.

The Charlotte bank controlled about $1.1 trillion in domestic deposits, up nearly 6 percent from last year.

Wells Fargo also maintained the No. 2 spot, with 9.96 percent of the nation's deposits. The $891 billion it held was up 12 percent from last year.

JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup were third and fourth, as they were last year. Capital One Financial Corp., which acquired ING Bank this year, jumped several spots to round out the top five.

Winston-Salem's BB&T grew its U.S. deposits by 19 percent to crack the top 10, jumping from No. 11 to No. 9.

National firm to open financial law office in Charlotte

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, a national legal and lobbying firm based in Pittsburgh, announced it will open an office in Charlotte to focus on banking and finance law.

Mike Wielechowski
“Establishing an office in Charlotte has been part of the firm’s strategic plan for some time,” CEO  Jack Barbour, a 1976 Davidson College graduate, said in a statement. “With major clients in the financial services sector, we have been looking for the right team to run an office in Charlotte."

The office will be led by Mike Wielechowski, who came to Charlotte from Pittsburgh about seven years ago after working for PNC Bank. He helps banks handle syndicated loans and mid-market deals. Two other attorneys will join him.

The firm said it has most large banks among its clients. The firm is still looking for office space uptown.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wells open, BofA closed on Columbus Day

Charlotte's two big banks apparently have different Columbus Day policies.

Wells Fargo branches will be open and under a normal schedule Monday, the bank said. Bank of America reports on its website that it will be closed for Columbus Day.

It is an official federal holiday.

Banks not lending for fear of Fannie, Freddie

Welcome to the morning roundup. Here's a look at what's news in banking and finance.

Banks hesitant to lend. Even with mortgage rates at record lows, people are having a hard time getting loans as banks increasingly face demands from Fannie and Freddie to buy back bad loans, The Wall Street Journal reports. One industry lawyer said the mortgage giants have a "gotcha mentality."

OCC to get tougher. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, seen as the most bank-friendly regulator, signaled that it's about to get tougher, Bloomberg says. It's new director has apologized for the OCC's failures to stop wrongdoing in the past.

Senator slams BofA. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, released a letter she sent to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan demanding that the bank communicate better with homeowners, The Hill reports. She describes working with constituents who had trouble getting in touch with the bank about their mortgages.

Bank of America selling office complex. Bank of America plans to sell a 12-building office complex in New Jersey it inherited from Merrill Lynch, Bloomberg reports. The bank has been shedding real estate, including in Charlotte.

JPMorgan suit could bite BofA. The lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general against JPMorgan Chase could set a precedent that would come back to bite Bank of America, says. One of the issues in the JPMorgan case is what type of liability the bank has for Bear Stearns, which JPMorgan acquired during the financial crisis. BofA, of course, has a troubled acquisition of its own in Countrywide.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

SunTrust creating 100 jobs at new Charlotte loan sales center

SunTrust Banks is creating 100 jobs at new loan sales center in Charlotte, the bank and the Charlotte Chamber announced Wednesday.

The office, which will underwrite and process mortgage loans, has about 40 staff already at the LakePointe Office Park near the airport, but will expand by 60 in the next three months.

“The loan center is indicative of SunTrust’s commitment to the Charlotte market and complements our retail presence in the region,” regional president William H. Peele said in a statement. “Charlotte is a dynamic, thriving metropolitan area, and we plan to roll up our sleeves and increase our involvement.”

Banks around the country, including Wells Fargo, have beefed up their mortgage processing staff considerably in recent months to capitalize on the wave of refinancings. 

SunTrust has about $1.2 billion in deposits at 36 Charlotte-area offices, according to the FDIC.

For more information on the job openings, click here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Would Wall Street be better off in Charlotte than New York?

Bank analyst Dick Bove is known for provocative statements, and today he all but suggests that Wall Street and the rest of the financial industry should pick up and move from New York City to Charlotte.

He cites the flood of investigations and lawsuits from New York attorneys general, from Spitzer to Cuomo to Schneiderman, the last of which today announced a new mortgage-backed securities suit against JPMorgan Chase.

Bove says that Michigan doesn't sue the auto industry, and Texas doesn't sue oil. So why should financial companies stay in New York? He says the reasoning is more tradition than reason.

"Management should consider the benefits of moving their headquarters elsewhere.  Shareholders should not be forced to pay for continuous lawsuits because these banks are in New York," Bove writes. "If the industry was located in Charlotte, North Carolina it would not be facing constant hostility it would be supported by a government that wants its business."

It's funny, sort of, because Charlotte is already concerned about waning influence in the banking world. Wachovia, the nation's fourth-largest bank at the time, sold to Wells Fargo for a pittance as it neared collapse. And Bank of America could have moved its HQ to New York had it tapped Bank of New York Mellon's Bob Kelly instead of Brian Moynihan -- who spends most of his time in Boston and New York anyway.

PNC's local deposits less than predecessor

Newcomer PNC Bank has far less deposits in the Charlotte metro area than the bank it acquired had last year, according to the FDIC's new deposit market share report, but the Pittsburgh bank says it's not because people closed accounts.

PNC had $421 million in local deposits as of June 2012, according to the report. RBC Bank, which PNC acquired last year, had nearly $1.1 billion.

Spokesman Fred Solomon said that's due to two factors: PNC moved some corporate deposits formerly located in Charlotte to other cities like Raleigh or up to Pittsburgh, and Royal Bank of Canada kept its Canadian customers' deposits when it sold its U.S. unit.

The issue of where banks record corporate deposits makes the FDIC's report hard to interpret in Charlotte, and not just for PNC.

Bank of America grew to $161 billion in deposits in the Charlotte area this year, or 80.1 percent share, according to the report. All but a few billion come from the uptown 28202 area code, where the global headquarters sits. It's unclear how many are local retail deposits.

Wells Fargo's deposits in the Charlotte metro area jumped more than 40 percent since last year, though the level is similar to that of 2010, to $25.8 billion. Its market share increased to 12.82 percent.

It's unclear whether Wells Fargo is truly losing the local retail deposit war, however. Before being acquired by Wells, Wachovia had repeatedly taken the top spot in local deposit share.

After the acquisition, the bank's Charlotte-area deposits plummeted over the next few years as, presumably, Wells moved corporate deposits elsewhere.

Wells Fargo still has more local branches and employees than Bank of America.

Park Sterling, Citizens South merger closes

Park Sterling Corp.'s acquisition of Citizen South Banking Corp. closed Monday, the bank announced, in what ended up being an $83.2 million deal.

That's a slightly richer value than was given when the deal was announced in May as Park Sterling shares have risen. Citizens South shareholders will receive either $7 or 1.4799 shares per share held. The total deal is 30 percent cash and 70 percent stock.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch luring brokers with cash

Welcome to the morning roundup. Here's a look at what's news in banking and finance.

BofA going after Morgan Stanley brokers. Top Bank of America Merrill Lynch wealth management regional managers are calling top Morgan Stanley performers, and offering them as much as $1.5 million to switch banks, The Wall Street Journal reports. Morgan Stanley has had a rough time lately, including the troubled Facebook IPO and an inconvenient computer system change.

Bank stock traders heading to worst year. Wall Street stock traders are set to have their worst year since 2006, with thin margins and volumes eating away at the market's rally, Bloomberg reports.

Task force sues JPMorgan. A mortgage fraud task force created earlier this year has brought its first suit, against JPMorgan Chase in New York state court, The New York Times reports. The suit says that Bear Sterns misrepresented the quality of loans in mortgage-backed securities it packaged pre-crisis.

BAC back to $10? Bank of America stock could get back to $10 per share, options traders are increasingly predicting with their bets, The Wall Street Journal says. The bank briefly topped the mark this spring, but hasn't closed above $10 since summer 2011.

Private equity spree ahead. Private equity firms are sitting on about a trillion dollars' worth of investor money that will have to be returned if the companies don't go on a shopping spree, The New York Times reports. More than $200 billion needs to be spent in the next 12 months alone.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Four each at BofA, Wells make 'most powerful women' in banking, finance lists

Two executives at Wells Fargo and two at Bank of America made American Banker's annual list of the "25 Most Powerful Women in Banking," released today.

At Wells, Carrie Tolstedt, senior executive vice president for community banking, was No. 6. Patricia Callahan, chief administrative officer, took No. 13.

At Bank of America, No. 8 went to Cathy Bessant, global technology and operations executive. Anne Finucane, global strategy and marketing officer, took No. 9. She also made a recent list of most powerful women in advertising.

On the most powerful women in finance list, Bank of America Merrill Lynch's head of global research, Candace Browning, was No. 10. Lisa Carnoy, co-head of global capital markets, was No. 20.

Diane Schumaker-Krieg, Wells Fargo Securities global head of research and economics, was No. 17. Julie Caperton, who runs asset-backed finance and securitization, rounded out the list at No. 25.

McCrory to open commercial mortgage conference

Former Charlotte mayor and current Republican candidate for governor Pat McCrory will open an annual commercial mortgage servicing symposium here Thursday.

The conference, hosted by law firm Alston & Bird, will bring together executives from companies like Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Moody's, Fitch, Pacific Life and TIAA-CREF.

McCrory's been making the rounds at business events in Charlotte lately. He also spoke at a North Carolina Homebuilders Association event last Thursday.