First Republic Bank's CEO Presents At Bank Of America Merrill Lynch Banking & Financial Services Conference - Call Transcript

First Republic Bank ( FRC)

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Banking & Financial Services Conference Call

November 15, 2011 2:05 pm ET


Ericka Penala – Bank of America Merrill Lynch

James H. Herbert, II – Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer Founding


Unidentified Analysts


Ericka Penala – Bank of America Merrill Lynch

I’m Ericka Penala and I’m the regional banking analyst here at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. It is my pleasure to introduce up next Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Herbert of First Republic Bank. Headquartered in San Francisco with $26 billion in assets, First Republic focuses on serving high net worth customers in urban coastal cities on the east and west coast.

The bank completed its initial public offering in December 2010 and continues to be one of the fastest growing banks in the industry while offering among the best [inaudible] metrics throughout its life cycle. With that, I’d like to turn the presentation over to Jim.

James H. Herbert, II

I’m going to go through a slide presentation and I’ll do that fairly quickly and informally hopefully and then we’ll open up for questions. Just to stand back for a second, we started the bank with 10 people, it was de novo in 1985, it was actually an industrial loan company initially not federally insured. We’ve grown ever since but we have focused on high net worth individuals through home mortgage for a long time.

Where, as Ericka said, we’re about $27 billion now, we have deposits of $22 billion and importantly, our credit is very clean. We’ve been under 15 basis points. We did sell the bank, we were public in ’86, we sold to Merrill Lynch at the end of ’06, closed in ’07 and that was an interesting experience and we bought the bank back recently successfully. The good news is when we went into Merrill and BofA the deal was struck in a way that kept the bank intact. Basically, that was the idea from the beginning so we were able to buy back quite a clean isolated entity.

That’s why we take this approach which is since the end of ’10 but really we bought it back in July of ’10 we’ve had a 15% annualized growth rate and our deposits are growing at 18%. Of course, everybody is having great deposit growth, all of a sudden core deposits are everybody’s long suit but we’ve actually had a long term or come to abnormal long term successful growth rate.

We also are a wealth manager. We’ve morphed the bank from mortgages and simplistic deposit products to more deposit products for the high net worth client and then we increased our wealth management offering starting in about 2000. We also came out of San Francisco which is our home market, went down to LA relatively early, San Diego relatively early and then came to New York about 11 years ago, came to Boston about five or six years ago now. So we’re bicoastal, we like urban coastal markets.

What is it about us that works? We basically have a very old fashioned but very effective relationship manager single point of contact banking model. Our relationship manager, or the preferred banker, or the portfolio manager if somebody comes in through wealth management, are the point of contact for the client. They deliver the entire bank. We don’t have silos, the whole bank can be delivered by an individual and I’ll give you a couple of examples of that in a minute.

We have a dogmatism about credit, we don’t like losing money on credit. We really don’t and the margins don’t allow for it as we all know. So we have had a very low loss experience, our home lending, which is almost $50 billion so far in the history of the bank, 26 years, we’ve had about five basis points of losses. We have a strong balance sheet and we have strong growth.

This is really the model, we do nine products per home loan. New home loan is the way we measure it but it may not be a new customer it may be just a new transaction. That comes from the ability – first of all it comes from the needs of the complex clients that we have and it comes from the ability of the single banker to deliver everything and so you have a tremendously strong cross sell experience.

The JUMBO home is our lead but it’s not the only thing, we lead with business banking now, and we lead with wealth management as well. It depends on the client, how they find us, how they come in. We have a very strong and complex and overlapping incentive structure. For instance, if a relationship manager brings in a piece of business banking, relationship manager being primarily more consumer home lending oriented, not all of them but most of them, they bring in a piece of business banking which we do quite a lot of, the business banker and the relationship manager share a compensation but the totality of that is more than 100% from the bank’s point of view for either one. So we have a shared working arrangement that’s supported by an incentive program. It works very well actually.

Whoever brings in the lead is the banker for life with the client unless the client changes. This is how we market, testimonials, this is quite short it will give you a quick example, “First Republic has certainly found the recipe for success. They always put the customer first.” “Everything is first rate with First Republic, the technology, service, fast turnaround.” “First Republic Trust Company is one of the best things that ever happened to me.” “We give the highest ratings to the quality in this bank.” “I like First Republic’s can do attitude. Their first answer is, ‘Let’s figure it out.’” “We got our mortgage through First Republic and the process was quick and painless.” “Everyone talks about putting the client first but few follow through. First Republic really does.” Those are just some examples, there is a particularly good example of someone who has a more complex financial life today than they did a short while ago.

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