Watch out Venmo: Bank of America launches peer-to-peer payments with Zelle

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) is now offering peer-to-peer payments through Zelle, a payments network that is embedded in BofA’s mobile banking app.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank is one of many companies to join Early Warning’s Zelle Network. Early Warning is a financial-technology company that delivers innovative payment solutions to banks.

Zelle is an inclusive network open to banks and credit unions in the U.S. The idea behind the payments tool was to create a faster, safer and more convenient payment option. It will compete with the likes of Venmo, PayPal’s free mobile wallet that allows users to pay and request payments.

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Bank of America, an early adopter of Zelle, incorporated the tool’s features in its own mobile-banking app. There is now an option to send, request and receive money under transfers in the mobile app.

“The bank’s clients will be first among Zelle users to be able to split expenses among multiple contacts or friends — such as a group dinner check — and they can even add a personal note along with the payment transfer or request,” BofA writes.

Other partner banks are expected to launch Zelle later this year. The network originally said it would launch in early 2017.

Bank of America also says it will continue to add mobile enhancements in 2017, including the ability to add cards to the digital wallet on customers’ devices directly from the mobile-banking app as well as the ability to add cards to services such as Visa Checkout and MasterPass.

Bank of America also says it will continue to add mobile enhancements in 2017, including the ability to add cards to the digital wallet on customers’ devices directly from the mobile-banking app as well as the ability to add cards to services such as Visa Checkout and MasterPass.

Bank of America launched its mobile app 10 years ago. Today, the app is the bank’s most-used channel, with about 22 million active users and more than 3.7 billion logins annually.

“As one of the first banks to offer mobile banking a decade ago, we’re excited to usher in a new era of high-tech, high-touch banking,” said Michelle Moore, head of digital banking. “In 2017, you’ll see a strong focus on payments and intelligent solutions that will deliver personalized experiences clients never imagined were possible.”

Bank of America is the second-largest bank in Central Florida, with $9.46 billion in local deposits.

BDO acquires LBA Wealth Management LLC, continues Jacksonville expansion

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

BDO USA LLP has acquired LBA Wealth Management LLC as it continues its expansion into Jacksonville.

The group had previously purchased the longtime Jacksonville accounting firm the LBA Group in November. This latest move is an attempt by the professional services firm continues a push into Florida.

LBA Wealth Management LLC is a fee-only investment advisory firm that operated with seven professionals managing $350 million in assets. The Florida market will be a “stronghold” for BDO’s continued expansion of its wealth advisory practice throughout the Southeast, according to a statement by BDO.

“LBA’s experience working with high-net worth clients in Jacksonville, Gainesville and throughout North Florida, combined with our previous expansion in South Florida last year, greatly increases our wealth management resources in the state of Florida,” said Steve Parish, National Leader of Wealth Advisory Services at BDO USA.

David Albaneze, who was the chief investment strategist at LBA Wealth Management, said when the LBA Group joined BDO, the company began working on joining BDO’s wealth advisory practice.

“As part of a national firm, our clients will have access to a wider range of services and our people will have access to many more opportunities to pursue career growth,” he said.

BDO USA has about 400 staff serving Florida businesses in offices in Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach and Winter Haven.

Wells Fargo quietly discloses that its annual meeting will be in Jacksonville

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

Wells Fargo has revealed the site of its annual shareholders meeting: It will be at the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., near Jacksonville, at 10 a.m. on April 25.

This would not be breaking news for most major corporations, where the announcement of details for the annual meeting is routine. Wells, however, has often played cat-and-mouse on the location of the meeting since 2012, when loud and raucous demonstrations against the bank disrupted the gathering in San Francisco. The bank’s meeting hasn’t been in its hometown since, instead taking place in places like Salt Lake City and San Antonio, Tex. The location has been usually announced in its proxy statement roughly a month in advance.

This year the annual meeting details come a bit earlier, amid a 15-page report filed Wednesday detailing steps Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) has taken to restore trust and fix its reputation in the wake of a sales scandal. In September, it was publicly disclosed that bank employees had opened up to 2 million accounts over several years without customer permission in a bid to meet stringent sales targets. The bank was fined $185 million by regulators and its culture came under intense scrutiny that culminated in the resignation of CEO John Stumpf.

The bank included a timeline of major events in the past six months including Stumpf’s departure in October, a new compensation plan in January and eliminating bonuses for top executives earlier Wednesday. The bank also eliminated product sales goals for retail bankers and established additional monitoring and controls to provide oversight of sales processes.

All that makes the first annual meeting since the scandal broke a high-profile event for both shareholders and critics alike. At least they’ll have a few more weeks to make travel arrangements.

Regency Centers closing merger with Equity One this week

(Courtesy of Financial News and Daily Record)

Shareholders of Regency Centers Corp. on Friday approved the company’s $4.6 billion merger with Equity One Inc., clearing the way to close the deal this week.

Regency will be the surviving company of the merger between the two companies that specialize in developing and operating shopping centers anchored by supermarkets. The company will remain headquartered in Jacksonville with Regency’s senior management continuing to run it.

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The merger is expected to be completed Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in light of the merger, S&P Dow Jones Indices is adding Regency to the Standard & Poor’s 500 index this week.

Inclusion in the bellwether stock index will increase the company’s visibility on Wall Street.

Regency is swapping places with pharmaceutical company Endo International, which will take Regency’s spot in the S&P MidCap 400.

“Post acquisition, Regency Centers is expected to have a market capitalization more representative of the large cap market space. Endo International is ranked near the bottom of the S&P 500 and has a market capitalization more representative of the mid-cap market space,” S&P Dow Jones said in a news release.

Regency will become part of the S&P 500 at the opening of trading Thursday.

‘Opposite day’ at CSX, Bloomberg columnist says

A Bloomberg News columnist had an interesting take on the ongoing effort of Hunter Harrison to become CEO of Jacksonville-based CSX Corp.

“It’s opposite day at CSX Corp., where an activist investor is fighting for — rather than against — a jumbo-sized executive pay package,” Brooke Sutherland wrote in her Bloomberg column last week.

Harrison, former CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., is working with hedge fund Mantle Ridge to try to get the CSX job.

Current CEO Michael Ward announced last week he will retire May 31.

According to CSX, Harrison is demanding a compensation package that exceeds $300 million over four years. Mantle Ridge disputed that in a letter to CSX’s board but still described a package that exceeds $200 million.

“Even if you strip away all the extras and focus on the base salary, the $2.2 million a year that CSX says Mantle Ridge is seeking for Harrison is almost double what Ward received in 2015. It’s also more money than other CEOs of public U.S. railroads get, according to data compiled by Bloomberg,” Sutherland wrote.

“So essentially the argument is that CSX needs to be more aggressive about improving its profitability, but to do that it needs to balloon its CEO compensation expense,” she wrote.

All this comes as CSX says it will reduce costs by cutting 1,000 management jobs, with most coming from Jacksonville.

CSX is planning a special meeting to allow shareholders to vote on whether they want the company to pay Harrison. You have to wonder how many CSX managers are stockholders and how many votes they have.

Advanced Disposal earnings rise

After completing its initial public offering in October, Advanced Disposal Services Inc. last week reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $17.2 million, up from $5.5 million the previous year.

For all of 2016, the Ponte Vedra-based waste management services company reported adjusted earnings doubled to $33.5 million. Revenue of $1.405 billion was slightly higher than 2015 revenue of $1.396 billion.

The company is projecting 2017 revenue of $1.45 billion to $1.475 billion.

“Advanced Disposal has undergone transformational changes during 2016,” CEO Richard Burke said in a news release.

“I am pleased we were able to improve our capital structure and begin the next chapter of our company’s history as a public company, while at the same time producing strong results for both fourth quarter and the full year 2016,” he said.

Creative Learning proxy fight ends

A proxy fight launched by the former CEO of St. Augustine-based Creative Learning Corp. has apparently failed.

Brian Pappas was terminated in October 2015 as CEO of the company, which offers educational and enrichment programs for children through franchisees.

Pappas, who still controls 19.5 percent of the stock, was seeking to remove the four current board members of Creative Learning and replace them with three of his own.

However, Creative Learning said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that Pappas did not deliver enough consent forms from other stockholders by a Feb. 7 deadline.

So, there will be no changes to the board, the company said.

“With the disruption of the proxy contest behind us, we are happy now to be able to concentrate all our energy upon several important initiatives to increase franchise sales, grow franchisee success and enhancing our wonderful brand and educational methods,” Chairman Chuck Grant said in a news release.

Duos Technologies plans reverse split

Duos Technologies Group Inc. shareholders last week approved a plan to lift the company’s stock price with a reverse split.

The measure allows Duos to enact the reverse split at a ratio of at least 1-for-5, meaning stockholders would get one share for every five they currently own. The ratio could go as high as 1-for-500, at the discretion of the board of directors.

Jacksonville-based Duos, which provides intelligent analytical technology solutions, is traded in the OTCQB market and is hoping a higher stock price will help it get a Nasdaq listing.

The stock was trading at just 3 cents a share when the company filed its proxy statement for the reverse split.

Convergys drops on earnings miss

Convergys Corp. dropped to a 52-week low Thursday after reporting revenue and earnings below expectations.

The outsourced customer service company’s adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of 47 cents a share were 6 cents lower than the previous year and a penny below the average analyst’s forecast, according to Yahoo Finance.

Revenue rose 1 percent to $758 million, but that was lower than the average forecast of $766 million.

Convergys forecast 2017 earnings per share will range anywhere from 3 percent lower than 2016 to 3 percent higher.

The company said in a news release it expects “seasonal sequential” drops in revenue in the first quarter and lower earnings in the second quarter, with results beginning to improve in the third quarter this year.

“Future actions to streamline the business and align costs to match anticipated revenue will likely require discrete actions in the first quarter of 2017, the costs of which are not included in this guidance,” it said.

Cincinnati-based Convergys has 1,350 employees in its Jacksonville office, where the workforce has fluctuated over the years along with contract wins and losses.

Its stock fell to a 52-week low of $22.22 Thursday before closing at $22.63, down $2.42 on the day.

Medtronic grows third-quarter revenue

Medtronic plc said revenue in its Jacksonville division — which produces surgical instruments for ear, nose and throat doctors — rose in the “low single digits” in its third quarter ended Jan. 27. However, it did not provide numbers.

The global medical device company said revenue in its entire specialty therapies group, which includes the ENT division, rose 4 percent to $370 million.

Total third-quarter revenue rose 5 percent to $7.28 billion and adjusted earnings grew by 6 cents a share to $1.12. That was a penny higher than the average analyst’s forecast, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Medtronic’s stock rose $1.68 to $80.56 Tuesday after the earnings report.

Renasant eyes local mortgage market

Renasant Corp. is a Mississippi-based banking company that appears to be the latest financial institution to have its sights on the Jacksonville market.

Renasant doesn’t have a bank branch in Jacksonville but it is looking to expand mortgage banking efforts in Northeast Florida.

During the company’s year-end conference call, Executive Vice President James Gray said Renasant is looking for mortgage growth in North Florida this year after an overall slowdown in mortgage activity at the end of 2016.

“We utilized this slowdown during the fourth quarter as an opportunity to amplify our recruiting efforts, which are already in effect, and we were able to bring on a producing manager, not just a nonproducing manager but actual producing manager in Jacksonville,” Gray said, according to a transcript of the call in a Renasant SEC filing.

“He is onboard and actively recruiting down in the Jacksonville/Gainesville and possibly over into the Orlando area. We anticipate dramatically increasing our production in the northern Florida market,” he said.

Renasant entered the Florida market in 2015 by acquiring HeritageBank of the South, which had bank branches in Ocala and Gainesville. A year before that deal, HeritageBank had acquired Ocala-based Alarion Bank, which had a mortgage office in Jacksonville.

Renasant, headquartered in Elvis Presley’s hometown of Tupelo, had assets of $8.7 billion at the end of 2016. The bank reported earnings rose 34 percent last year to $90.9 million, or $2.17 a share.

Jeff Brandes Files Bill to Curb Insurance Fraud

(courtesy of Sunshine State News)

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, is going after insurance fraud in the Sunshine State.

On Friday, Brandes filed legislation to tackle insurance fraud by requiring insurance companies to develop anti-fraud plans and submit them to the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services.

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Brandes’ legislation would also require companies to provide anti-fraud training and would require companies to provide anti-fraud statistics.

“Insurance fraud in Florida is evolving, and policyholders are forced to pay for it through higher premiums every year,” said Brandes. “This is a hidden tax on every Floridian who drives a car, owns a home, rents an apartment, or pays for health insurance.

“If left unchecked, the cost of fraud will grow and consumers will continue to pay the price,” Brandes explained.

Brandes teamed up with Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater on the legislation, which is likely to be one of his last collaborative efforts as Florida CFO.   “We’ve made significant strides in our fight against insurance fraud,” said Atwater. “With this bill we hope to further improve our processes and hone our techniques so that we can continue to stay a step ahead of the criminals who seek to defraud Floridians.”

Trump to Order Review of Dodd-Frank, Halt Obama Fiduciary Rule

(courtesy of Bloomberg)

President Donald Trump will order a sweeping review of the Dodd-Frank Act rules enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis, a White House official said, signing an executive action Friday designed to significantly scale back the regulatory system put in place in 2010.

Trump also will halt another of former President Barack Obama’s regulations, hated by the financial industry, that requires advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. Trump’s order will give the new administration time to review the change, known as the fiduciary rule.

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Taken together, the actions are designed to lay down the Trump administration’s approach to financial markets, with an emphasis on removing regulatory burdens and opening up investor options, said the White House official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.

The orders are the most aggressive steps yet by Trump to loosen regulations in the financial services industry and come after he has sought to stock his administration with veterans of the industry in key positions. His plans are sure to face fierce criticism by Democrats who charge that Trump is intent on undoing changes designed to protect everything from average investors to the global banking system.

He also could face a backlash from some of his own supporters, whose distrust of big institutions and the financial industry helped fuel the populist anger that propelled Trump to the White House.

‘Big Number’

Trump is scheduled to issue the directives at a signing ceremony around noon following a meeting of more than a dozen top corporate executives led by Blackstone Group LP Chief Executive Officer Steve Schwarzman.

On Monday, Trump promised to do “a big number” on the Dodd-Frank Act during a meeting with small business owners. He said the law had damaged the country’s “entrepreneurial spirit” and limited access to needed credit.

“Regulation has actually been horrible for big business, but it’s been worse for small business,” the president said. “Dodd-Frank is a disaster.”

Trump’s Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin will meet with members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and report back on what changes the administration should take to alter Dodd-Frank, the official said. Particular attention will be paid to the Volcker Rule limits on banks making speculative bets with their own funds, an restriction promoted by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Immediate Impact

The official wouldn’t say how long the Treasury Department would have to complete its review, but did say that the administration would be looking for ways to make an immediate impact, including through administrative changes and personnel decisions.

Trump’s directive also stalls the so-called fiduciary rule — set to take effect in April — that the Obama administration said would protect millions of retirees from being steered into inappropriate high-cost or high-risk investments that generate bigger profits for brokers.

The review will include examining making personnel changes at financial regulators as a way of accomplishing the administration’s objectives, the official said. They declined to answer a question on whether Trump would try to fire Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The official did say the administration believed that some of the rules created under Dodd-Frank may have been unconstitutional, including the creation of new agencies, an apparent reference to the bureau.

Asked Monday about whether Trump would retain Cordray in his position, White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to answer. Mnuchin said during his congressional testimony that he believed the CFPB as a whole should be preserved but that Congress should take more direct control of its budget.

The Trump administration doesn’t believe Dodd-Frank measures, including the Volcker Rule, addressed real issues in the financial system, the official said. The president’s team also believes the Labor Department fiduciary rule was unnecessarily restricting investor choice without providing necessary consumer protection, the official said.

Republican lawmakers and some financial firms say the fiduciary rule is deeply flawed, arguing that it will restrict options for consumers and result in some savers being denied advice on their retirements. Trump will call for the Labor Department to stop and review the regulation in its entirety.

While the review will be undertaken independently by the Labor Department, the White House aide signaled that the president was expecting significant change.

Broader Overhaul

Delaying implementation of the Labor Department rule is the first step Republicans and the finance industry are eyeing as part of a broader overhaul of the measure. GOP Lawmakers have argued that the Securities and Exchange Commission, not the Labor Department, should oversee and regulate any changes related to financial firms.

Banks, asset managers and insurers have been fighting the fiduciary rule ever since the Labor Department approved it last year, saying the regulation could raise the costs of providing advice and make it harder to serve lower-income clients. Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Council of Life Insurers have sued to try to block it.

Still, representatives of some financial services companies said they planned to change practices to meet the regulation’s standard even if it is halted.

“We plan to go forward with the majority of the work we’ve done,” Bill Morrissey, managing director of business development at LPL Financial Holdings Inc., said in an interview before Trump’s order was disclosed. “What investors want is more transparency and lower fees.”

Morgan Stanley, one of the biggest U.S. brokerages, said on Jan. 26 it plans to move ahead with changes designed to comply with the rule, despite uncertainty over whether the regulation will be implemented. Insurers including American International Group Inc. and Principal Financial Group Inc. stressed after Trump’s victory that they would continue to forge ahead as though the rules would be carried out.

“My expectation is that a lot of firms are going to continue installing a best-interest standard, regardless,” said Brian Graff, chief executive officer of the American Retirement Association, a group that represents pension administrators and plan advisers.

Wall Street Is Hiring … in Florida (The nearshoring strategy is aligned with President Trump’s push to keep jobs in the U.S.)

(courtesy of Bloomberg)

When Deutsche Bank sent senior Wall Street executive Leslie Slover to run its expanding outpost in Jacksonville, Fla., she wasn’t entirely ready for the lifestyle. Gone were the skyscrapers and subways. In their place was a corporate campus with a pond and vast parking lots, flanked by rows of new town houses, some inhabited by employees. The on-site culinary options? A cafeteria and some food trucks. Suddenly, Slover had to relearn to drive.

“It’s hard—it’s not Manhattan,” says Slover, 52, who spent her career in the Northeast before becoming the regional head of the bank’s operations in Jacksonville and Cary, N.C. “Indian food at 11:30 at night does not exist.”

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Transplants from the city that never sleeps may feel at first like aliens in this northern Florida city 35 miles south of the Georgia border, but their numbers are growing. Global financial companies including Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank and Sydney-based Macquarie Group have been moving executives here and hiring locally, even while paring staff elsewhere.

It’s part of a Wall Street trend known as nearshoring, in which banks are moving operations away from expensive financial centers like New York to places such as Jacksonville and North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Also in Jacksonville are more than 19,000 employees of Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs has established operations in Salt Lake City, and UBS has a site in Nashville. It’s a way to improve profitability without going overseas. Conveniently, it also happens to comport with President Trump’s demands that employers keep good jobs on U.S. soil.

In the early days, investment banks mainly transplanted back-office workers such as accountants, technology staff, and lawyers. But in Deutsche Bank’s case, the Jacksonville campus has grown into the company’s second-largest U.S. location. The bank has about 2,000 employees there—up from 1,400 in 2013—and plans to add more in 2017.

Increasingly, the site is a microcosm of its U.S. business, even the trading functions. On campus, in a building alongside the man-made pond, a young team recruited from universities such as Emory and Vanderbilt sells securities in tandem with their counterparts in New York. When a client calls in an order, a Jacksonville salesman glances at a live video feed of desks at 60 Wall St., finds a trader standing by, and relays the order. Slover says the technology allows the two locations to function like one seamless floor. She’s come to enjoy living in Florida, noting it has more elbow room than Manhattan and the people are unusually nice.

According to Jones Lang LaSalle, high-end corporate office space in Jacksonville can be leased for about $22 a square foot, cheaper than all but four major U.S. cities tracked by the company. That’s about a quarter the rate in New York. Banks pay Jacksonville employees about 30 percent less on average than those in New York, according to Cathy Chambers, a senior vice president with the JaxUSA Partnership, a division of the local chamber of commerce. A financial analyst, for example, might earn $67,000 in Jacksonville, compared with $99,700 in New York. The local and state governments also offer tax incentives to lure companies.

For Anthony Glenn, who runs an office Macquarie opened in Jacksonville last year, advantages include escaping for late-afternoon surf sessions at a local beach. Another perk is his 15-minute drive to work. He says his office includes people from 21 countries, plus big U.S. cities such as Houston, New York, and Philadelphia. Many of them came to escape punishing commutes from far-flung suburbs.

“In most cases, it’s been a lifestyle decision,” Glenn says. “They’re weighing a compensation change vs. a huge increase in quality of life.” Macquarie’s Jacksonville office employs people whose jobs might otherwise have been filled in India. It provides a support staff that’s more convenient for its U.S.-based employees, while its Indian operation continues to focus on the Asia business.

Jerry Mallot, president of JaxUSA, brushes aside criticism that Jacksonville can’t cater to big-city tastes. “We’re not New York, but we wouldn’t want to be New York,” he says. He points out that the city has its own NFL team, craft breweries, and “more golf courses than you could play in 10 years.” There’s a Tesla Motors store, too. Companies are eager to establish operations in a place with year-round sunshine and no state income tax, Mallot says. They typically start by transferring managers to the region, then build staffs by hiring from the area. The salaries are attractive by Jacksonville standards.

The influx of financial-services and other white-collar jobs has brought money and diversity to the area and may even be influencing the political landscape, says Michael Binder, an associate professor of political science at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. In a county that George W. Bush carried by more than 15 percentage points in two presidential elections, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by just over 1 percentage point. “In a lot of ways, Florida is the inverse of America: The more north you get, the more South you are,” Binder says, referring to cultural and political preferences. “But slowly this is changing, like a lot of the urban cities in the New South.”

Will rising interest rates weigh on home sales?

(courtesy of USA Today)

Aside from expensive ask prices, nothing turns off a potential home buyer more than rising interest rates, as the higher the mortgage rate the higher the monthly mortgage payment.

Higher rates also impact affordability, as more expensive borrowing costs often force home buyers to purchase a cheaper home or downside from a single-family home to, say, a condo.home-for-sale

That’s why Tuesday’s report on December existing home sales and Thursday’s on new home sales will be watched closely by Wall Street.

Sales of existing homes in the final month of 2016 are seen coming in at an annualized rate of 5.53 million units, below the 5.61 million homes sold in November 2016, according to Bespoke Investment Group. A small drop in December sales of new homes also is seen. Economists forecast 585,000 new homes were sold last month, down from 592,000 in November 2016.

December saw a sharp rise in mortgage rates as investors began to price in higher rates after the Federal Reserve hiked short-term rates for the only time in 2016 at its December meeting.

The rate on a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed as high as 4.45% in December, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, its highest level since spring 2014.

The big question now: Can an improving economy, more jobs and higher worker pay offset the downside of higher rates on home purchases going forward?

Wells Fargo to close approximately 400 branches by 2018

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(courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

Wells Fargo officials announced last week that it plans to close more than 400 branches by the end of next year, in an effort to cut costs.

The bank was involved in a massive scandal last year wherein employees opened fake accounts totaling almost $2 million. The scandal resulted in the company eliminating sales goals for retail bankers and prompted federal investigations, but bank officials say the scandal is not the reason for the branch closings. Wells Fargo is planning to close hundreds of branches in the coming years.

In a statement from Wells Fargo CFO John Shrewsberry, the bank is merely following a trend carried out by several large retail banks – closing locations and replacing them with automated systems and online bank products.

The statement also claims that many of the 200 closures it anticipates this year will be in close proximity to other locations it owns, and many of the employees can be transferred to nearby branches, which should limit layoffs.

Even after the bank closes an estimated 200 branches in 2018, Wells Fargo would still have 6,065 total branches, more than any other bank in the country.

“We continuously evaluate our branch network, and our physical distribution strategy is driven by customer behavior, market factors, economic trends and competitor actions,” said Rosanna Fiske, vice president of corporate communications for Wells Fargo’s southeast region. “While branches continue to be important in serving our customers’ needs, our investment in digital capabilities has enabled us to seamlessly serve our customers across channels and provide choice in how they bank with us.”

Fiske said at this time, she could not provide details on specific locations.

Look ahead at 2017: Financial services set for boom year

Jacksonville’s financial services companies were looking at a big year in 2017 anyway, and with the election of Donald Trump and the potential of deregulation, Jacksonville’s financial industry could benefit.

Many of the community banks in Jacksonville have merged with larger banks, including Jacksonville Bank in 2016. There’s just three locally headquartered community banks with more than $100 million in deposits left in Northeast Florida.

They are: FirstAtlantic Bank with $358.74 million in area deposits, Atlantic Coast Bank with $354.72 million in area deposits and CBC National Bank with $218.53 million in area deposits.

If deregulation of the banking industry does occur, expect these banks to receive a much needed shot in the arm, which could free up capital for local projects.

They could benefit even if regulations don’t change rapidly, said Mitch Hunt, the chairman and CEO of FirstAtlantic Bank. While he said he does not expecting a frenzy of banking deregulation in 2017, a Trump presidency will have other side effects that will positively impact his business.

“Regarding deregulation, I think it will be much slower to come about,” he said. “I think the pace of regulation will slow down, which will be good for both the big banks and smaller banks.”

He said the real impact for community banks will be less about policy and more about confidence in the economy.