First Niagara Financial Group's CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (FNFG)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

July 27, 2012 08:30 am ET

Executives

John Koelmel - CEO

Greg Norwood - CFO

Analysts

Bob Ramsey - FBR

Erika Penala - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Josh Levin - Citi

John Pancari - Evercore Partners

Casey Haire - Jefferies

Dave Rochester - Deutsche Bank

Damon DelMonte - KBW

Collyn Gilbert - Stifel Nicolaus

Matthew Kelley - Sterne Agee

Tom Alonso - Macquarie

Presentation

Operator

Welcome. This presentation contains forward-looking information for First Niagara Financial Group. Such information constitutes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 which involves significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from the results discussed on the forward-looking statements.

Welcome and thank you for standing by. All lines have been placed in a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session. This call is being recorded. If anyone has any objections, you may disconnect at this time.

I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. John Koelmel, President and Chief Executive Officer. Sir, you may begin.

John Koelmel

Thank you very much, Teresa, and good morning everyone. It’s been a busy couple of weeks for many of you and that our being a week later than usual. Those put us on the back side of the earnings cycle, but all are moving parts and pieces around the HSBC Branch acquisition; want to make sure we got it right and we are able to give you the best possible clarity and transparency around the transaction and its early outcomes.

We are only four days away from the one year anniversary of the announced one of that deal. But it’s a much more important to us. The conversion of those customers and accounts is already more than 60 days in the rearview mirror. It means we are definitely an even better bank today than we were just one year ago.

But also not just because of the transactions now behind us, so over the last 12 months we also continue to do the hard work necessary to further build out our entire franchise across the Northeast and drive even sharper organizational focus on optimizing execution of our core business.

After four exciting and at times challenging years of creating and building a franchise of which we are very proud and are equally excited to be 100% on execution level; driving our franchise to be one of the best managed, most well run and high performing banks in the business. We’re completely focused on maximizing our organic platform; built to be all the more efficient in the fact that we’re delivering and differentiating customer experience and be equally effective in bringing to the bottomline the benefits of what we make happen for the customers and communities we serve.

Confident, you’ll again see the results of that focused and disciplined execution in the second quarter outcomes. Completing our largest and most complex transaction, to well know our fortune in three years, one of the best teams in the business is also delivering another consistent chapter in our continuing story of strong and consistent organic growth, solid credit quality and improving fee income, because we continue to invest both the financial and intellectual capital to optimize our delivery channels and product suite, keep the business model simple, execute where the winning relationship based and customer centric focus and ensure that our entire team top to bottom is empowered to drive growth and strengthen relationships.

And you see that we’re doing just that across all of our markets. That’s the punch-line. We’re increasingly winning the hearts and minds of the customers and communities we serve and the benefits are all the more real and evident.

As for the HSBC Branch transaction, one of my key takeaways at this early stage, one we have very effectively pulled off our biggest challenge yet and find ourselves in a even better than anticipated position just two months into it.

Two, over the last year, we validated not only the strengths of the franchise we acquired, also our own brand as our first major end market deal. Our ability not only to hold the base substantially and tack over and turned out to be an all too extended timeline between announcement and closing, but in fact win more than our share of pre-close attrition battles is noteworthy.

Many other former HSBC customers that moved in the interim period, weren’t running away from us, and really wanted to get a jump start on establishing a relationship with us. While it would have been awkward to be as crisp on that point over the last year, I want to be very clear now about the significance of the positive balance as they came away before the deal was completed in May, because even as competitors stepped up their efforts to take advantage of the dislocation in the market, our brand awareness is now stronger than ever.

That is showed that over the last six months is when at least 20 point approval in (inaudible) awareness in Western New York alone. Rochester, Syracuse and Albany awareness quotients doubled now, which is north of 50%, even better than the 85% awareness number is our 70% of favorability rating in Buffalo with the next best competitor at 62% and you can see the benefits of that in all of our results whether it be the strong retention statistics or the significant number of customers that we converted to us.

Last and most importantly, the new and expanded teams went playing off since Monday, May 28th and the execution and momentum is really evident. We’re opening mark, checking accounts in the former HSBC Branches and even in our legacy locations. Our new mortgage teammates have already made a significant contribution to increase origination volumes this past quarter; small business pipeline is growing with more than 20 relationship managers are further enhancing our success in all of our markets and our private client services team is moving accounts with real pace to ensure we maximize the opportunities presented by the expanded portfolio of assets under management. The sum of that’s an outcome of which I am very, very proud.

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