At Paragon Bank’s annual shareholders’ meeting this month, the bank’s leadership team could be forgiven for brimming with confidence.
After the completion of official business, which included re-electing board members, Paragon’s top executives presented a look back at 2013. And as part of that, Paragon CEO Robert Shaw, president and chief operating officer Mike Edwards and chief financial officer Lewis Perkins got to share news that included Paragon having maintained strong capital positions, increased loan volume and completed a major reduction in nonperforming assets at the bank.
Core deposits at Paragon also were up 7 percent overall during the year, with the gains including an increase in demand deposits, interest-bearing checking deposits, savings account deposits and money market deposits. Also during 2013, the bank launched its Paragon Wealth division and kept up its nonprofit and community organization commitments to organizations that include the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-South, Neighborhood Christian Center, Memphis Child Advocacy Center and Community Lift.
Shaw thinks 2014 has even greater things in store for Paragon.
“We’re proud of the efforts our board members and team made in 2013,” Shaw said. “In 2014, we’ll continue to maintain asset quality, improve net interest margin and operating efficiency, and focus on our corporate growth plan.”
Among the 2013 financials: As of March 31, Paragon’s Tier 1 leverage ratio, Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio and total risk-based capital ratio were 10.65 percent, 14.51 percent and 15.77 percent, respectively.
Also during the year, Paragon saw an 8 percent increase in loans and assets, with a growth of $15 million in total loans as of Dec. 31.
Overall, 2013 was the most profitable year in the bank’s history. The bank said its pretax income of $1.1 million for 2013 is the result of factors such as improved asset quality, increased loan activity and continued decreases in nonperforming assets.
The fourth quarter also marked the 12th straight quarter of profitability for Paragon.
Among other highlights for the year, Paragon grew its assets to $272.7 million, up 8.2 percent from $252 million at the end of 2012. Also, total loans increased 8.2 percent to $197.5 million at the end of 2013 from $182.5 million at the end of 2012.
Jon Roskos, who recently was tapped as vice president and Saddle Creek banking manager for Paragon, said the bank tries to set itself apart from other banks by focusing on relationships.
“I’ve been here since March 18, so I’m relatively new, and I was really looking to work for a bank that focused on relationship banking,” said Roskos, who will be working to meet the needs of existing customers and to introduce others to Paragon. “That means knowing your customers, both on a business and professional level and also a personal level, too. And being able to communicate freely with clients and customers. You’re not an account number at Paragon – you’re a person, with a face and a name and a story.
“At the bigger banks, you become an account number. When a customer walks in here, though, there’s a conversation about how they’re doing, what’s going on in their life, not, ‘Hey, do you have a second to talk about mortgages’ or some other product.”
He said Paragon employees, try to be – and are – on a first-name basis with most customers.
“When I came into banking, it was all about driving new accounts and customer acquisition,” Roskos said. “Paragon is very focused on doing the hard work. There’s no shortcuts. We’re truly about one customer at a time.”