Author Archives: Jerry Siebenmark

Siebenmark is a business reporter who covers banks, credit unions, savings and loans and other financial services businesses. He has covered those industries for 10 years and has been with the Eagle since 2006

Coffee, anyone? Local credit unions ‘make difference’ by paying for customers’ purchases Tuesday

Representatives of three Wichita credit unions were at a downtown coffee house Tuesday morning picking up customers’ tabs.

That’s according to the Kansas Credit Union Association, which said the effort is part of its “Make A Difference” campaign to raise awareness about credit unions in the state and to promote community giving.

The KCUA said in a news release Tuesday that 11 credit unions are participating in the campaign in Emporia, Kansas City, Ness City, Norton, Topeka and Wichita.

Officials from Equishare Credit Union, Mid American Credit Union and Wichita Federal Credit Union were on hand at 9:30 a.m. at Mead’s Corner, 430 E. Douglas, to pay for customers’ purchases.

KCUA said at each location Tuesday credit unions were expected to give away up to $1,000 in cash or gift cards.

This is the second “Make A Difference” giveaway organized by the KCUA. Last October credit unions were at gas stations across the state paying for customers’ gas purchases.

MSN features WaterWalk condo as a ‘winter fun’ home

A WaterWalk condo in downtown Wichita is featured nationally as one of MSN Real Estate’s “12 homes for winter fun.”

According to the MSN website, the stand-out feature of the $509,900 condo is its “unique fireplace that’s perfect for winter get-togethers with friends and family.

Other properties listed in the feature are a nearly $1 million home in Big Sky, Mont., and a $22.5 million home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Bank regulator to close last of temporary offices opened at height of financial crisis

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said this week it is making plans to close the last of its three temporary satellite offices opened after the 2008 financial crisis.

The last office to close is its East Coast Temporary Satellite Office, though that office’s closure is slated for the second quarter of 2014.

The East Coast office, based in Jacksonville, Fla., has a temporary staff of 420 employees and it is managing 138 failed bank receiverships for institutions located in the Southeast.

“Based on a review of ongoing workload and in recognition of the signs of the improving health of the banking industry, the FDIC has determined that its Dallas Regional Office will be able to absorb the remaining work of the ECTSO by the second quarter of 2014,” the FDIC said in a news release.

The FDIC said its temporary workers in Jacksonville will receive outplacement support because of the closing. It said most of the workers there were hired on a non-permanent basis.

The FDIC has already closed satellite offices in Irvine, Calif., and Schaumburg, Ill.

How has your job changed?

The Eagle would like to know how your job has changed in the past five years.

Has technology altered what you do and how often you do it?

Have cutbacks in staff and spending by your company since the recession increased your workload and duties?

Or have other factors come into play and greatly altered what you do in your job or career?

If so, The Eagle would like to hear from you for a Labor Day story.

Please contact Eagle business reporter Jerry Siebenmark — at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com — by Monday, Aug. 27.

Former Via Christi executive garners national recognition

Saad Ehtisham, former chief nursing officer at Via Christi Hospitals in Wichita, has been named an honoree in Modern Healthcare magazine’s 2012 Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare.

Ehtisham left Via Christi in 2010 to become CEO of University Medical Center in Lebanon, Tenn., in metropolitan Nashville.

Modern Healthcare says it received 144 nominations for this year’s slate of executives. Honorees are selected in part by a demonstration to effect change in the industry, service as a mentor to others in the industry and service as a leader in the industry outside of the organization for which they work.

Kasasa account program at Emprise rewards customers with iTunes downloads, other perks

Emprise Bank is the second Kansas bank to offer a new checking and savings account program whose rewards include iTunes downloads.

Emprise joins ESB Financial in Emporia as the newest bank in the state to participate in the Kasasa program, whose rewards also include cash back credits and Amazon.com downloads.

Tom Page, Emprise CEO, said low interest rates are making it tough on bank earnings and the Kasasa program encourages things like debit card use and electronic statements, which ultimately help his bank’s bottom line.

“Significant transaction volume through debit card use and the electronic delivery of services … those are things that generate much more money for the bank than we will make by investing money,” Page said.

Page acknowledged that Kasasa is “different for us,” but a persistently low interest rate environment is prompting the industry to look at unconventional products and services.

Two area companies named Exporter of Year finalists

Bunting Magnetics of Newton and Global Parts in Augusta are among five finalists for the 2012 Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award, the Kansas Department of Commerce announced.

The three other finalists are Bergkamp of Salina, Pitsco of Pittsburg and Tank Connections of Parsons.

Winners will be announced June 12 at the annual Kansas Calvary Encampment.

Fifteen Kansas companies were evaluated in the selection of award finalists.

They were evaluated on a number of measures, including number or percentage increase in jobs because of international activities, use of international distributors and joint ventures established.

Kansas Heart Hospital, physician recognized for support of deployed nurse anesthetist

From left, Jeremy Salsbury and Ernie Hoeckel of Kansas Heart Hospital and Jim Wishart of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Representatives of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve presented an award to Kansas Heart Hospital and anesthesiologist Ernie Hoeckel for their support of a worker who was recently deployed to Afghanistan.

Hoeckel and hospital officials were presented this morning with a Patriot Award for supporting Jeremy Salsbury, a nurse anesthetist who serves as a captain in the Army Reserves. He returned May 4 from a four-month deployment in Kunar Province with the 948th Forward Surgical Team.

Salsbury said the hospital and Hoeckel provided “above and beyond” support to him and his family while he was away, including routinely checking in with his family to see if they needed anything.
“It was very reassuring to me,” Salsbury said.

Hoeckel said it would be impossible not to support Salsbury, who he considers an “A-plus” worker and literally irreplaceable. He also said that the hospital stepped up its support of his small department while Salsbury was away.
“As far as my contribution … I consider it pretty darn minimal,” Hoeckel said.

FDIC says progress made on insurance fund, but higher assessments will remain

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is making good progress restoring its Deposit Insurance Fund after several years of bank failures, but bankers shouldn’t expect the regulator to pull back anytime soon on the higher assessments it’s charging banks.

That’s what the FDIC’s board of directors heard Monday at its meeting at the FDIC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

According to a staff presentation and report to directors, the fund’s balance has increased for eight consecutive quarters and was at $11.8 billion at the end of 2011. But that represents a reserve ratio of 0.17 percent. The FDIC has a congressional mandate, via the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, to reach a reserve ratio of 1.35 percent by Sept. 30, 2020.

FDIC staff told directors that their best estimate is that the plan to restore the fund in time to meet the Dodd-Frank requirements. But it may be the second half of 2018 before any easing of higher assessments on some banks occur.

Following the release of the update on the fund, the American Bankers Association issued a statement in which it said “the FDIC has been overly conservative in setting aside reserves for possible failures that did not occur.”

Report says mortgage activity is on the rise

Mortgage applications were up in the first quarter of 2012, and so was the average credit score of applicants, according to a report from MortgageMarvel.com.

The report says mortgage applications nearly doubled compared to the same period a year ago, and the average credit score rose to 733 from 716, “indicating that personal finances may be improving as well,” the report says.

Bank of America can’t catch a break

Bank of America, the embattled banking giant that’s wrestled with all sorts of negative publicity for the last three years, finds itself in the spotlight, again.

This time, Occupy Wall Street is calling for a sort of Bank Transfer Day against Bank of America on Friday. The group is calling the effort, “Move Your Money Relay.”

Occupy activists plan on providing “escorts” at Bank of America locations who will assist willing BofA customers in moving their accounts over to community banks and credit unions.

Pace of bank failures continues to slow

The nation made it through the weekend without a bank failure. Of course, the Easter weekend may have had something to do with that, given financial markets were closed for Good Friday.

But it wasn’t the first weekend in 2012 where the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. had to take a bank into receivership or complete the sale of a failed bank’s assets to another institution, either.

An examination of the FDIC’s Failed Bank List might explain why. According to that list, there have been 16 bank failures through April 8 this year. In that same period in 2011, bank failures totaled 28. And in 2010 it was 42.

While there’s still a lot of year left, the pace suggests that the trend of rising bank failures that began nearly four years ago may just be coming to an end.