Wells Fargo maintains top ranking in Colorado

Filed under: Banking & Finance |

With nearly twice the number of deposits as its closest competitor, Wells Fargo once again outranked other Colorado banks last year.

That’s according to annual statistics from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. that were released last week.

The numbers also show U.S. Bank slid from the No. 2 spot on the list – a spot now claimed by Lakewood-based FirstBank, which increased deposits by 9 percent. U.S. Bank’s deposits dropped by nearly 2 percent.

TCF Bank, which has been on the expansion fast track, doubled its deposits last year to nearly $675 million.

KeyBank’s deposits grew by 14.5 percent to reach about $2 billion.

Overall, Colorado’s bank deposits increased 8.4 percent to reach $76.3 billion last year, according to the FDIC.

Critics counter that the FDIC statistics are only a snapshot of bank deposits because they only consider a bank’s June 30 balance sheet each year, but other bankers say multiple-year growth according to the numbers is proof of deposit increases.

Stumbling block for pension law

A key provision in the new pension reform law that allows money managers to give investment advice to 401(k) participants has hit a snag

Under the provision, financial firms offering advice are required to charge a single flat fee to participants regardless of what investment options are chosen.

Industry lobbyists and some attorneys say that makes the regulatory relief useless for managers who typically charge higher fees for some strategies.

The law, signed by President Bush on Aug. 17, allows money managers to give investment advice to participants in defined contribution plans where their own products are under consideration.

Managers can either use a computer model to crank out asset scenarios or they can arrange for staff members to advise participants about their investments.

Either option saves time for the participant because the same manager could offer investment products and advise participants about their asset allocation and investments. Previously, managers were barred from doing so by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Before the Pension Protection Act was passed, defined contribution plan providers could offer advice to participants only through independent third parties.

Lobbyists have launched an effort to persuade lawmakers to relax the pricing constraints before they adjourn for the year.

Their essential argument is that the pricing restrictions, as written, were a mistake.

But critics of the move see the price cap as a deliberate component of legislation and say it should remain in effect.

M&As on the move

Industry analysts are predicting mergers-and-acquisitions activity in the banking and insurance sectors to increase during the coming months.

Analysts spoke during CreditSight’s annual investor conference last week.

Although consolidation often leads to layoffs, financial adviser jobs are likely not on the line, they said, because the sales force usually is one of the biggest assets for acquirers.

Banks commonly want to double their stock prices every five years, and acquisitions can contribute to that goal.

In the banking sector, Washington Mutual Inc. is the biggest target. Potential suitors for the company include Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Among life insurers, Prudential Financial Inc. is one of the biggest acquisition candidates.

Prudential also may go after the remainder of Allstate Financial Group. Prudential acquired Allstate Financial’s variable annuity business last year.

Wachovia earnings up 13 percent

Wachovia, the nation’s fourth-largest bank, is reporting a 13 percent increase in third-quarter earnings.

Expanded consumer lending services are credited for the rise.

Net income rose to $1.88 billion, or $1.17 per share, from $1.67 billion, or $1.06 per share, a year ago. Results dipped slightly from a second-quarter profit of $1.89 billion, or $1.17 per share.

U.S. Bank branch springs up in Fountain

U.S. Bank opened a full-service branch this week inside the Safeway at 6925 Mesa Ridge Parkway in Fountain.

The branch will be open seven days a week and will offer checking and savings accounts, CDs, IRAs and auto and debt consolidation loans.

Pension adjustments for ’07

The Internal Revenue Service has announced cost of living pension plan adjustments applicable for tax year 2007.

Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans. It also requires that the limits be adjusted limits for cost of living increases.

Effective January 1, the limitation on the annual benefit will be increased from $175,000 to $180,000. For participants who separated from service before January 1, 2007, the limitation for defined benefit plans will be calculated by multiplying the participant’s compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2006, by 1.0334.

The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) is increased from $44,000 to $45,000.

Rob Larimer covers banking and finance for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.