Bob Twomey is the regional president of Webster Bank’s southeastern Massachusetts, including Fall River, New Bedford, Attleboro and Taunton. Twomey oversees all of Webster’s business lines and retail operations in the territory. He also serves as senior vice president/regional manager for commercial banking in the region, with an office in Providence.
Webster Financial Corp., parent of Webster Bank, has reported a net income of $151.4 million for 2011, a 109 percent increase on its 2010 profit. The figures could be an indication of a recovering economy. With a decline of 3.6 percent in total interest and noninterest revenue, to $876.8 million, for the year, the bank was able to book a larger profit by taking advantage of the low interest rate environment to pay less on deposits. In addition, the bank reserved $22.5 million in provision for loan losses in 2011, a significant amount less that the $115 million it took in 2010, a notable improvement on its loan portfolio.
Providence Business News asked Twomey to evaluate the bank’s performance.
PBN: How would you evaluate Webster’s performance last year?
TWOMEY: Overall, we’re very pleased with our 2011 performance. Our capital strength, credit quality, revenue growth and expense control, combined with our progress in changing our consumer banking model and our focus on investing in strategies to drive economic profit have contributed to significantly improved earnings.
PBN: What do you think was your greatest strength last year?
TWOMEY: It’s hard to credit just one aspect of our business, but I can say that loan growth was a bright spot all year long. Loan originations for the year totaled $2.9 billion, a 15 percent increase over 2010.
PBN: Webster set aside much less money to cover bad loans last year. What do you see as the current loan climate?
TWOMEY: Credit continues to experience positive trends, and assuming this continues we expect that the first and second quarters of 2012 will see levels of provisioning that are comparable to the third and fourth quarters of 2011.
PBN: Why did the bank finish so strong in the fourth quarter?
TWOMEY: I mentioned that our loan originations for the year totaled $2.9 billion – one third of that came in the fourth quarter. And, in consumer finance, our fourth quarter bookings before secondary market sales were $437 million, marking that division’s strongest quarter of the year.
PBN: To what do you credit your continued improvement in asset quality?
TWOMEY: The fourth quarter of 2011 brought progress in all asset quality measures. In particular, our nonperforming loans are now 1.68 percent of total loans compared to 2.48 percent a year ago. In fourth quarter nonperforming loans declined by $32.9 million, and that reflects clients with $11.5 million in commercial, $10.3 million in commercial real estate, and $9.8 million in residential development.