Falcon International Bank Celebrates 20 Years (January 22, 2006)
Falcon International Bank Celebrates 20 Years (January 22, 2006)"It takes time to grow and in 2006 we're going to have our 20th Anniversary." (January 22,2006)
In 2006, Falcon International Bank will be 20 years old.
If the last two years are any indication of the financial institution's future, this year should be as good or better than the other two.
"We're very blessed," said Adolfo E. Gutierrez, president and CEO of the bank. "We're in a good place and I think that when you look back to look forward, I expect in 2006 the momentum that we started in 2004 and 2005 will be picking up. We know where we have been, we know what these projects are, and they are no longer a dream."
Gutierrez explained the changes as pent-up growth. With four new branches completed last year in Buda, San Antonio, Del Rio and Eagle Pass, he said the bank plans to open four more in 2006 in its current areas and McAllen.
"It takes time to grow and in 2006 we're going to have our 20th Anniversary," Gutierrez said.
"2005 was an incredible year for us," Gutierrez said. "All the branches are running on all cylinders. We're looking forward to a good year."
Regarding Laredo's growth, Gutierrez stated that the bank's interest has been commercial lending.
"Our niche is construction spending and interim financing for home builders," Gutierrez said.
Most of the home construction has been with the major locally owned builders instead of larger publicly-traded organizations that have other financial resources.
Even with houses going $80,000 to $100,000, more people are getting their first homes, he said.
"They get the square footage down. That's how they become affordable. Most of them are starter homes. Four or five years later they step up to a bigger place," Gutierrez said.
"People can afford twice the home," he said.
Due to historically low interest rates on mortgages, those who resisted buying a home when rates were in double digits are more active in buying homes, he said. As the rates inch toward 10 percent, less people will risk even a first home.
More Services, More Employees
Gutierrez said the company gained employees as the bank grew in branches and services offered. Last year, he said there were 185 employees and at the start of 2006, 235 people are on the payroll. Expansion has been so rapid that a single human resource coordinator has morphed into a three-person department.
The latest technological services that equal those of any national bank have increased the IT department to a staff of eight.
A building originally planned to be another branch on the Bob Bullock Loop turned out to be a 17000 sq. ft. addition to its main office on McPherson. The building, which houses the insurance department along with the auditing department, opened late 2005.
"We've grown our insurance department into a large operation," Gutierrez said. "We offer all the lines of insurance."
Internationally, Gutierrez said Falcon is making a name for itself with a new office in Guadalajara, Mexico to complement its office in Monterrey. It is being one of the major players in multi-national trade along the border.
"This has been very positive for us," Gutierrez said.
FalconVest, the investment arm of the organization, based in San Antonio, has grown in volume.
"We offer brokerage and investment services," he said. "San Antonio also houses or trust services, which has grown 30 percent last year."
$20 million in deposit insurance
Promontory Interfinancial network said that Falcon International Bank, based in Laredo, has provided more than $100 million of Federal deposit insurance coverage to customers through Promontory's premier service, CDARS.
With CDARS, banks can offer a customer up to $20 million in Federal deposit insurance coverage. CDARS, or the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service, has been endorsed by the American Bankers Association.
Mark Jacobsen, President and COO of the Network, and a former FDIC chief of staff, noted, "The largest financial institution in the country cannot offer anything safer than CDARS. There are few guarantees in life – FDIC insurance is one of them. And with interest rates rising, CDs are becoming a more attractive cash management and investment option."
To offer CDARS, a deposit placement service, a bank must be a member of Promontory Interfinancial Network, a nation-wide network of more than 1000 banks.
When a customer places a large deposit with a network member, the bank arranges for the placement of funds into certificates of deposit issued by other Network banks – in increments of less than $100,000 to ensure that both principal and interest are eligible for full FDIC protection.