Magazine article American Banker

Northwest of Ore. in Private Banking

Magazine article American Banker

Northwest of Ore. in Private Banking

Article excerpt

Bank of the Northwest in Portland, Ore., is betting that regional loyalty and intimate service will help its new private banking group compete with those of far larger West Coast institutions.

Private banking has long been dominated by a handful of big banks and brokerages, but it is becoming a more attractive business for community institutions like $263 million-asset Bank of the Northwest, which opened its own private banking group last week.

Daniel Durkin, chairman and chief executive, said his company may not have the marketing budget to vie for private client business with the likes of a Wells Fargo or U.S. Bancorp, but being a community bank has its advantages.

Most Bank of the Northwest customers are professionals and small-to-midsized businesses owners in Portland's metropolitan area and are wealthy by community banking standards -- their average deposit account balance is close to $40,000, Mr. Durkin said. (The average retail deposit account size in a bank of about $250 million is $6,374, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.)

Many of the emerging affluent who live and work in the area tend to invest locally, Mr. Durkin said, and Bank of the Northwest's shares, which began trading on the Nasdaq in April, are largely owned by Portland investors. Its move into private banking is an effort to get those clients' investment business.

"All of our contacts are networked in the community," Mr. Durkin said. "Our customers and shareholders are very effective at marketing. …

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