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Banking Financial District

Oriental taps on ‘agility’ to boost commercial banking

Oriental CEO José Rafael Fernández

Oriental Financial Group’s staff is literally lacing up its sneakers to keep up the pace with the goal the company has placed at the finish line: growing its commercial banking division at a brisk rate and closing $500 million in new loans this year.

During a news conference Tuesday to talk about the bank’s strategy and unveil its latest advertising campaign, Oriental CEO José Rafael Fernández said the objective is to increase the business segment by between 4 percent and 5 percent, adding to last year’s $2 billion loan portfolio.

“Our growth goals are across the board: mortgages, commercial banking, small and mid-sized businesses, corporate and consumer,” Fernández said.

Oriental’s loan portfolio is dominated by its commercial loans, which last year exceeded $1 billion, including the business it took over through its acquisition of the defunct Eurobank in April 2010. Mortgage loans accounted for another $850 million last year, followed by individual consumer loans that totaled $65 million in 2011.

So far this year, Oriental has closed on $110.2 million in loans, an increase of 41.3 percent over the first quarter in 2010 and 2.7 percent more than the prior quarter, said José Ramón González, Oriental’s senior executive vice president of banking and corporate development.

Agility in addressing cases and maintaining an efficient operational structure are the two elements fueling the growth, González said.

José Ramón González, Oriental’s senior executive vice president of banking and corporate development

“The agility Oriental keeps in its commercial banking division is due to an efficient operational structure with processes in place to channel each case quickly, and having a direct line to decision makers,” he said. “That speed does not take away from the diligence with which each application is assessed.”

While the bank is pursuing all types of business customers, González said small and mid-sized operations are “hungry for orientation that enables them to develop their businesses during these challenging times.”

Oriental couples tailored orientation services with the portfolio of services offered to that segment — loans, lines of credit and corporate services such as cash management, banking and international commerce.

Oriental’s work with the small business community earned it the top award granted by the Small Business Administration for its participation in the Third-Party Lender program. Through September 2011, the end of the federal fiscal year, Oriental closed 26 loans for small businesses, totaling $9.8 million.

To further publicize the offerings of its commercial banking division, Oriental is launching an advertising campaign that focuses on its responsiveness and the range of products it has to match the reality of each potential client company. The $300,000 multimedia campaign created by ad agency DDB Latina Puerto Rico features a pair of sneakers to represent the bank’s agility.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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