First Midwest: Our stock’s not bad either

First Midwest Bank, which J.D. Power last week said had the best customer service in Chicago and in the Midwest, isn’t doing too shabby in the stock performance department either.

 Last Saturday, the Chicago Tribune reported on a study of 62 bank stocks by Evercore Partners. The study found that, of 16 stocks of local interest, only MB Financial outperformed both the Standard & Poor’s 500 and its bank index.

 First Midwest wasn’t included in study, and on Saturday morning it contacted the Tribune to kindly point out that it’s no slouch when it comes to its stock performance either.

 “While First Midwest is not included in the listing prepared by John Pancari, analyst at Evercore, just wanted to note that if you looked at our stock price change from 12/31/10 through (April 21), as the list does, that First Midwest would be ahead of 11 banks that are on the list,” James Roolf, president of First Midwest in Joliet, said in an email.

 The S&P500 was up 6.3 percent in that time, while its bank index was down 5.8 percent.

 Had First Midwest been added to the 16 local bank stocks of interest, making 17, it would have ranked fifth, up 2.6 percent. That would have edged out PNC Financial’s 1.5 percent gain. Of the 16 banks on the Tribune’s list, only five were in positive territory, one was flat, and the rest were all down year to date.

Here’s a link to the Tribune story: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-0423-bank-stocks-20110422,0,4955379.story

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Loans cast pall on bank’s social-media savvy

Suburban Bank & Trust, among the most active Chicago-area banks on Twitter, is being closely followed by federal and state regulators.

And not followed in a good, Twitter-kind-of way.

Earlier this month the Elmhurst-based bank, which has $623 million in assets, was ordered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional regulation to, among other things, hire an outside firm to review its management, stop making loans to deadbeat borrowers, and restrict its dividend payments.

The bank, which has branches in Elmhurst, Chicago/Beverly, Glen Ellyn, Lemont, Markham, New Lenox, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Wheaton and Wood Dale , has been ordered to maintain certain capital levels.

As of Dec. 31, the bank exceeded those levels, but it hasn’t yet posted results for the first quarter ended March 31 yet. The regulatory order was signed April 5.

SBT President Donald O’Day said in a statement to ChiFinance that his bank, founded in 1971, is committed to maintaining its capital ratios despite the impact of the downturn in the economy.

“We’ve been pro-active in addressing asset quality, growing revenue and managing expenses, while continuing to make loans and service our customers – most of whom are local families and small businesses,” O’Day said. “We’re absolutely confident that based on the steps we have taken, we’ll emerge an even stronger bank.”

The bank lost $14.8 million in 2010, and 11.5 percent of its loans are seriously delinquent.

Here’s a link to the consent order with the regulators:

http://www.obre.state.il.us/cbt/Enforcement/2011/SuburbanBank&Trust040511.pdf

Here’s a link to SBT’s year-end financial results:

https://cdr.ffiec.gov/Public/ViewFacsimileDirect.aspx?ds=call&idType=fdiccert&id=20443&date=12312010

Here’s a link to its Web site, whose home page features its Twitter stream:

https://www.sbtbanknow.com/index.html

And here’s a link to a Chicago Tribune story last June that mentioned SBT’s social-media efforts (page 3 of article):

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-06-21/business/ct-biz-0621-bank-twitter–20100621_1_microblogging-twitter-social-media

Small businesses boost hiring, social media

About 35 percent of small business owners plan to hire additional full- or part-time workers, up 9 percentage points from last fall, and an increasing number are using social media to drive growth, a newly released American Express survey has found.

The 35 percent marks the highest level since the fall 2008 survey by American Express OPEN Spring Small Business Monitor.

The credit card company’s survey also found that 44 percent of small businesses use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media tools to promote their business to new customers, up from 39 percent six months ago.

Indeed, in an open-ended question, when asked which person would most help their business, 14 percent said they would hire an accountant or bookkeeper, 9 percent said a social media expert, and 6 percent said either a marketing  or advertising person or a sales representative.

2nd Chicago bank caters to gays

Northern Trust Corp. isn’t the only Chicago bank catering to gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual consumers.

It turns out that Harris Bank, the Windy City’s third-biggest bank in deposit market share, also has an outreach program for the GLTB community as well as its own employees.

Windy City Times, a gay publication, reported Wednesday that a Harris branch in Lakeview hosted a forum on Illinois’ civil union law.

Branch manager Nicole Porrez told Windy City Times that she was proud to work with Lions Pride — a group of LGBT employees who work at Harris — to organize the event. “That’s the point of (Harris): to have a presence in the community,” she told the 25-year-old publication.

A Harris spokesman told ChiFinance on Thursday that the employee group and the outreach to the GLTB community have been part of Harris’ strategy for several years.

When the Chicago Tribune earlier this year reported on Northern Trust’s efforts, about 50 readers posted online comments, some of which might offend some readers.

Here’s a link to the Windy City Times article: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=31222

And here’s a link to two Chicago Tribune articles on Northern Trust’s various efforts:

http://chicagobreakingbusiness.com/2011/01/northern-trust-sets-up-practice-for-gay-community.html

http://chicagobreakingbusiness.com/2011/02/northern-trust-to-sponsor-gay-exhibit-at-chicago-history-museum.html