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Oriental Makes Big Push In Retail / Commercial Banking

Adds executive staff, targets professionals and small & midsize businesses, launches Oriental Preferred program


December 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Best known as a financial planner (Planficadores Financieros) and as a leading issuer of individual retirement accounts, Oriental Financial Group is redefining its retail / commercial banking division to serve small & midsize businesses and professionals.

Oriental is already pursuing commercial-lending opportunities to complement its investment and mortgage-lending portfolios. For the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2003, Oriental had net income of approximately $14 million, total financial assets of $5.8 billion, a $2.2 billion investment portfolio, and a $684 million loan portfolio. Of the latter, $618 million, or 90%, was from residential mortgage loans. About 7% of the loans were commercial; consumer loans made up the remaining 3%.

Oriental intends to become a major player in the consumer (retail) and commercial banking sectors. The recent arrival of several seasoned managers is expected to support this initiative.

Nestor Vale, formerly a senior vice president of retail/commercial banking and board member of Scotiabank, has been retained to head the banking division at Oriental. Francisco Portero, formerly a vice president of business banking at Scotiabank, has assumed supervision of Oriental’s commercial banking division. Elizabeth Crespo, who worked in branches and credit risk at BBVA, has taken charge of Oriental’s retail banking division. Norberto Gonzalez has come from BBVA to handle Oriental’s risk management division. Carlos Nieves, an Oriental board member & former chief operating officer of PaineWebber, has assumed the direction of Oriental Financial Services Corp.

"There is a definite change at Oriental," said Nestor Vale, senior executive vice president of commercial banking at Oriental. "The institution will continue to strengthen its investment and mortgage-lending efforts and will move energetically toward developing competitive and profitable commercial-banking services."

It recently designed Oriental Preferred, a program aimed at meeting both the commercial and personal banking needs of professionals such as physicians, lawyers, accountants, and engineers as well as small and midsize businesses. Oriental Preferred integrates commercial loans, mortgage loans, financial planning, investments, insurance, credit cards, and deposit accounts.

"Loans [under Oriental Preferred] can range from less than $150,000, which can be guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, to several million dollars," said Francisco Portero, first vice president for commercial banking at Oriental. "The average is expected to be $1 million to 1.5 million."

Also attractive about Oriental Preferred, said Vale, is that an experienced relationship officer is assigned to work with each customer. "This level of individual attention, combined with our broad offering of banking products and financial services, is unprecedented in Puerto Rico," said Vale.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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