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VOL. 7 | NO. 20 | Saturday, May 10, 2014

Financial Federal Sees Progress, Prepares for New Digs

By Andy Meek

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A business that handles client money and assets naturally occupies an ideal perch from which to survey the financial landscape and general economic conditions.

Kent Wunderlich is CEO of Memphis-based bank Financial Federal, which is preparing to relocate in a few weeks to a prime spot along the Poplar corridor. It also has added new employees and rolled out new products, all while operating in a challenging financial landscape.

(Memphis News/Andrew J. Breig)

And the Memphis-based bank Financial Federal is one such institution in a position to do that.

As a testament to its outlook and ambitions, for example, it’s preparing to relocate in a few weeks to a prime spot along the Poplar corridor. It has added new employees and rolled out new products. And its CEO Kent Wunderlich has plenty of thoughts about the market his bank is operating in and what’s to come in the near future.

“I think things are doing OK at the moment in Memphis,” he said. “Certainly we’re a lot better than in 2008 and 2009.

“The residential side looks pretty good to me. We all know what we need in Memphis are jobs, though, and we recognize that, too. On the commercial side, rates are great, and we continue as a broker to do really large loans all over the South. Business has picked up, and there’s some good deals going on here.”

The leadership of the locally owned and operated bank likes to point out it’s moving forward – even at the same time as the bank, itself, is moving. To that end, in late 2013 the bank inked a lease to occupy 27,000 square feet on the first and second floors of the Renaissance Center, 1715 Aaron Brenner Drive. Financial Federal even acquired naming rights for its new home.

The bank – which specializes in private banking solutions, as well as customized residential and business banking solutions – is moving its offices and operations from its current digs on Humphreys Boulevard. It’s a milestone of sorts for Financial Federal, which was founded in 1985 and has, in the past year or so, made investments in technology that enables it to offer new services like online and mobile banking.

“What we need in Memphis are jobs, though, and we recognize that, too. On the commercial side, rates are great, and we continue as a broker to do really large loans all over the South.”

– Kent Wunderlich

Among other recent highlights, the bank has introduced checking accounts to its product line for the first time.

“We’ve expanded our services and are adding additional products,” Wunderlich said, by way of providing context for the move. “It’s a better location for us, to have that kind of exposure. Really, that’s the financial district of Memphis, between 240 and Germantown. There’s a lot of synergies in that building, and we’re near a lot of potential customers. We’re not on Poplar, but we’re close. We like that area. And our lease was up here. So we made a deal, and we’re looking forward to the move.”

Financial Federal will plant its flag in the Poplar Corridor.

(Memphis News/Andrew J. Breig)

The bank has also added new professions working in deposit services and in operations, Wunderlich said. And according to Financial Federal president William Tayloe, the bank’s deposits and portfolios have seen major growth in the last few years, and it’s also been working to deepen relationships with existing customers while continuing to gain market share.

In Tayloe’s view, success for the bank is not so much about being the first to bring a new product to market or have the biggest building sign – it’s about keeping customer focus as the top priority.

Meanwhile, Wunderlich points to the bank’s logo as a signpost heralding the bank’s philosophy and ambitions. That longtime logo has included the image of a flag, and, as Wunderlich explains, “nobody plants a flag where the ground is unsteady or going to erode.”

The ideal spot on which to plant a flag, he continues, is one that’s “solid” and “strong” – emblematic of the foundation he and the rest of Financial Federal’s leadership want to lay for the bank.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 73 114 11,552
MORTGAGES 100 142 15,121
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 47 47 2,958
BUILDING PERMITS 198 392 27,646
BANKRUPTCIES 60 128 11,090
BUSINESS LICENSES 19 37 4,075
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 120 323 16,809
MARRIAGE LICENSES 21 43 3,507

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