Fed Survey: No Movement in Area Lending

By Andy Meek

The local economy is inching toward improvement. A newly released report from the Federal Reserve shows the central bank’s regional district that includes Memphis saw modest improvement in residential real estate as well as the commercial real estate market since the Fed’s last survey.

However, a sample of small- and medium-sized banks in the area showed area lending basically not growing in the three-month period from mid-December to mid-March.

The Fed’s so-called “beige book” showed home sales in Memphis up 10 percent in February compared with February 2011. Permits were up 22 percent in Memphis, according to the central bank’s data.

The Fed survey also found commercial and industrial real estate conditions have improved modestly throughout much of the Fed’s Eighth “St. Louis” District, which encompasses Memphis.

However, total loans outstanding at a sample of small- and medium-sized district banks were unchanged. And real estate lending, which the Fed says accounts for more than 70 percent of total loans, dropped 0.4 percent.

In other local financial services news, meanwhile, the industry has seen a spate of hiring lately.

Spencer Hare has joined First Tennessee as senior vice president in commercial banking at the Ron Terry Center, at 4385 Poplar Ave.

• Chalmers Valentine, owner and principal of Peyton Financial Group, has joined Regions Insurance of Tennessee.

She’s worked for Peyton Financial Group for the past 23 years specializing in insurance and financial services, estate coordination, executive compensation, employee benefits and retirement planning.

Her focus at Regions Insurance will be to help build out a life insurance and executive compensation practice, and she’ll operate in the Regions Insurance office at 6000 Poplar Ave.

• CPA and consulting firm Cannon Wright Blount also is adding to its team. The firm this month announced the hiring of four professionals – three tax professionals and an administrative assistant.

Administrative assistant Holly Owen has more than 10 years of administrative experience across various industries. She’s a 1985 graduate of the University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting.

Senior tax accountant Andrew McIlwain has more than six years of experience in the industry, including a past position as a tax manager. He graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy from the University of Mississippi in 2006.

Tax accountant Darren Henry has nine years of tax experience. He graduated from the University of Memphis in 2005 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting.

And tax accountant Elliott Hunt has six years of tax experience with large accounting firms. He’s a 1998 graduate of George Mason University.

“We are excited about the depth of experience that these four team members bring to Cannon Wright Blount,” Cannon Wright Blount CEO Jud Cannon said about the team.