Interview With The President And CEO: Investors Bancorp, Inc. (ISBC) - Kevin Cummings
April 3, 2012 - The Wall Street Transcript has just published S&Ls, Investment Banks and Asset Management Report offering a timely review of the sector. This Special Report contains expert industry commentary through in-depth interviews with public company CEOs, Equity Analysts and Money Managers. Please find an excerpt below.
Kevin Cummings was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Investors Bancorp, Inc., in January 2008. He Also was appointed to the board of directors at that time. From July 2003 to January 2008, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Cummings, along with the senior executive management team, is guiding the bank's strategic expansion in to a full-service community and commercial bank. A 1976 graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont with a B.A. in economics, he was the recipient of the Harry M. Fife Award for Excellence in Economics and Athletics. Mr. Cummings earned an MBA from Rutgers Business School. He is a Certified Public Accountant and has been a frequent speaker at seminars on topics ranging from mergers and acquisitions, income taxes and management reporting on internal controls.
TWST: An analyst that I spoke to for this issue said the big trend he is observing is that qualified borrowers, whether commercial or residential, aren't coming back to the marketplace for loans right now. Are you observing that trend and would you comment on your loan growth over the last few years?
Mr. Cummings: Our loan growth has been outstanding over the last four years. Our total loan portfolio has grown from $4 billion, which was probably at that time over 90% residential in 2007, to almost $9 billion at the end of the year. During this recession - from the beginning of 2008 to the end of 2011 - our loan portfolio has almost doubled. It was an opportunity in the marketplace when a lot of the insurance companies, the commercial mortgage-backed security conduits or international banks, because of their overexposure to real estate, had to drop out of the market. It was a great opportunity for us. We started commercial lending at the end of 2005 and only had $380 million in commercial loans at the end of 2007. So we had very little exposure at that point in time, and we were able to fill the void and make loans to a lot of customers who never - to be honest with you- had never heard of us before, and our commercial loan book went from $380 million to over $3.6 billion in those four years. And our residential loans grew from approximately $3.6 billion to $5.3 billion. So what happened was, while other financial institutions and other players in the market weren't making those types of loans - actually, they were not making many loans at all during that period - it allowed us to fill the void.
TWST: How is Investors Bancorp's credit quality trending at this point?
Mr. Cummings: Our credit quality is one of the best in our peer group. Our delinquencies are less than 2%, and our nonperforming assets to total assets ratio was 1.46% at year end. So we've been lucky - not lucky, we worked hard at it to put on good credits. The majority of our nonperforming loans on the commercial side are in the construction portfolio, and all of those loans were made or underwritten prior to Lehman's bankruptcy in 2008.
TWST: Are there any trends or characteristics, either positive or negative, that are unique to banks that operate in your geographic region that a new investor would want to be aware of?
Mr. Cummings: The New York, New Jersey metropolitan area is the most unique market in the world. I mean it's the wealthiest market, it has the most resilient economy. And northern New Jersey and the five boroughs of New York have high population density, making it the best place for investors in the world. So it's very unique compared to the rest of the country and to the rest of the world. We've made a conscious decision to get involved in the multifamily space. When you think of multifamily lending, consider the demographic trends. What's happening in the marketplace is reflective of what's happening with my children, who are 24 and 26. One rents in Hoboken and the other rents in Manhattan. When I was their age a few years ago, we were rushing to save money to buy a house because interest rates were going up along with housing prices. Today, there's no fear of interest rates going up in the next 18 to 24 months, and if anything, housing prices have been soft to down. So there's no desire to get into the market anytime soon.
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