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Banking High profile: Bank of America makes move for spotlight

High profile: Bank of America makes move for spotlight

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Bank of America, already one of the largest banks in Tarrant County in terms of deposits, is taking an even higher profile with its recent move into what can only be termed the heartbeat of Fort Worth – Sundance Square.

The bank last month moved into its new main location in the former D.H. Horton Tower, now to be renamed the Bank of America Tower.

“This gives us an opportunity to bring all our lines of business under one roof and allows us to operate more efficiently,” Mike Pavell, Fort Worth market president for Bank of America said.

“We are pleased to be the anchor tenant at the tower, giving us the opportunity to co-locate our Merrill Lynch, U.S. Trust, business banking, global banking and markets and retail teams so they can have stronger collaboration in better serving our clients while ensuring responsible growth to our company,” Pavell said.

Bank of America is leasing three full floors – 18, 21 and 24 – of commercial space in Sundance Square Tower 2 and is opening a 4,000-square-foot financial center on the ground floor, giving the bank a higher profile.

Approximately 170 employees will relocate to the new 68,000-square-foot space, but more could be added in the future, according to Pavell.

“We are excited to welcome Bank of America to Sundance Square. One of the most visible pieces of this addition will be the change in the building perspective, adding a retail bank to the ground level that will extend to the sidewalk will enhance the entire block,” said Johnny Campbell, president and CEO of Sundance Square.

David M. Schwarz Architects Inc. is the architectural firm of record for the Bank of America project, according to Sundance Square officials.

Bank of America’s existing Merrill Lynch operations, formerly in the neighboring Wells Fargo Tower, will move to the new location, along with Bank of America’s business banking, global banking and market teams from the previous Bank of America site at 500 W. Seventh St.

Bank of America is vacating that building, which was originally built in 1961 for First National Bank of Fort Worth.

Pavell said the move is part of the company’s One Company business integration strategy to better serve its customers by bringing consumer, small business and wealth management services under one roof.

“This is about the growth that we’ve seen here recently in Tarrant County from our business side, and the anticipated growth that we see over the next several years,” he said.

“Getting all those associates together so that we can continue to work together and go to market with a combined, consistent approach from that standpoint, is a big driver of what we’re doing there.

“And really, from a bigger picture, it’s just reflective of the overall growth opportunities that we see in Fort Worth and that Bank of America as a company sees here in putting more resources at play to go to market and address those growth needs and growth opportunities that we see,” he said.

In Tarrant County, Bank of America has increased the number of client-facing associates by 10 percent compared to last year – to staff the financial centers and keep up with increased customer demand, said Pavell.

In addition, the bank has made some significant local hiring in its Merrill Lynch group – the wealth management division of Bank of America – as well as adding three new bankers in its U.S. Trust Private Wealth Management segment over the last several months. U.S. Trust Private Wealth Management serves the needs of high-net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals and families.

While the bank is leaving its longtime Seventh Street location, it is not leaving the thoroughfare once synonymous with Fort Worth power brokers. Bank of America is adding a new location in a new building going up on West Seventh just east of the BackWoods store. That location should open sometime in mid-December.

Retail banking is changing, Pavell notes and the bank renovated two Fort Worth locations last year, with another three due for renovation by year’s end, to reflect some of those changes.

In addition, another two new financial centers on Broad Street and the West Seventh location are scheduled for completion in coming months.

“What’s driving these change – from our perspective – is responding to how our clients and customers want us as a bank to engage in their financial lives,” he said. “So in some cases that may mean they want to come in and sit down and have a face-to-face meeting to discuss retirement planning or to talk about getting a mortgage or college savings of whatever that may be.”

The younger generation in many cases has a different perspective, Pavell said. “They prefer to engage digitally, and so it may be over their mobile device or online, or it may be at an ATM or coming into a financial center, but wanting to engage via an iPad. So we’ve responded by really opening all those channels up and allowing our clients and customers to decide for themselves what’s the best way that they want to engage.”

Bank of America

History: Tarrant County history: Texas banking history – particularly through the rough and tumble 1980s before branch banking was approved – can be confounding. Bank of America says it was founded in Fort Worth in 1920 based on the charter of First Republic when NationsBank acquired it. Here’s the family tree, courtesy of Bank of America: The main bank that came into the Bank of America family was the First Republic Bank Corp., which was taken over by NationsBank in 1988 when it went into receivership. It was founded in 1920 in Dallas. Two main banking competitors merged in 1987, the Republic National Bank of Dallas and the Interfirst Corp. of Dallas, creating the First Republic Bank Corp. It lasted a year before NationsBank took it over and changed the name to NationsBank Texas. The predecessor bank in Fort Worth came from the Interfirst bank. Interfirst bank acquired the First National Bank of Fort Worth in 1983. It was founded in 1877. However, when Interfirst merged into Republic, the charter that was kept was from the Republic bank, which dates to 1920.

ATMs: 176 in Tarrant County

Financial Centers: 34 in Tarrant County

Blue Zones: Just over 800 employees participate in Blue Zones at Bank of America’s Amon Carter Campus, the largest financial firm to join the effort.

Corporate philanthropy: In August, Bank of America provided $1.2 million in economic mobility grants, to be distributed to DFW nonprofits working to increase basic needs and workforce development and education opportunities in the North Texas community.

www.bankofamerica.com

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