In the final months of 2017, Santa Rosa’s Exchange Bank deposits grew by an eye-popping $300 million, with most of the new money coming from insurance settlements to those who lost homes in the October wildfires.
The fire-related jump in deposits came in a year when the bank already was on track to post record assets, said Greg Jahn, executive vice president and chief financial officer. The bank ended 2017 with assets of nearly $2.6 billion, an increase of 18.6 percent from a year earlier.
“We did see an extraordinarily strong increase in deposits in the fourth quarter,” Jahn said.
The vast majority of the new funds came from residential insurance losses, he said. But businesses also deposited insurance settlements and nonprofit agencies deposited funds received to help in fire-relief efforts.
In the first three quarters of 2017, the bank’s deposits grew by about $100 million, Jahn said. For the year, deposits rose a total of $400.3 million, an increase of 20.6 percent from 2016.
Annual income before taxes rose $43.6 million, an increase of 25.7 percent.
In its lending portfolio, the bank ended the year with $1.1 billion in real estate loans, most of them for commercial properties, an increase of 5.7 percent. Commercial loans grew 2.5 percent to $325.9 million and consumer loans increased 5.3 percent to $120.3 million.
Companies across a broad range of sectors made new investments in 2017 to grow business, he said.
The bank last year paid $5.8 million in stock dividends, an increase of 21 percent from 2016. Slightly more than half of those dividends are paid to the Doyle Trust, which funds Doyle Scholarships at Santa Rosa Junior College. The bank paid a dividend of 90 cents a share last quarter.
How quickly the fire-related deposits are withdrawn this year likely will parallel the pace of the county’s reconstruction efforts, Jahn said. An earlier outflow would be a positive sign for those watching to “see our community rebuild and thrive.”
You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @rdigit.
Read more about the business impact of the North Bay fires and recovery: nbbj.news/2017fires