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Edited Transcript of ASB earnings conference call or presentation 24-Oct-19 9:00pm GMT

Q3 2019 Associated Banc-Corp Earnings Call

Green Bay Oct 29, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Associated Banc-Corp earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 9:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles

Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO

* Philip B. Flynn

Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director

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Conference Call Participants

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* Christopher Edward McGratty

Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD

* Jared David Wesley Shaw

Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - MD & Senior Analyst

* Jon Glenn Arfstrom

RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - MD

* Robert Scott Siefers

Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division - Principal of Equity Research

* Terence James McEvoy

Stephens Inc., Research Division - MD and Research Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to Associated Banc-Corp's Third Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call. My name is Omar, and I will be your operator today. (Operator Instructions) Copies of the slides that will be referenced during today's call are available on the company's website at investor.associatedbank.com. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded.

As outlined on Slide 2, during the course of the discussion today, management may make statements that constitute projections, expectations, beliefs or similar forward-looking statements. Associated's actual results could differ materially from the results anticipated or projected in any such forward-looking statements. Additional detailed information concerning the important factors that could cause Associated's actual results to differ materially from the information discussed today is readily available on the SEC website in the Risk Factors section of Associated's most recent Form 10-K and subsequent SEC filings. These factors are incorporated herein by reference.

For a reconciliation of the non-GAAP financial measures to the GAAP financial measures, mentioned in this conference call, please refer to the Page 15 of the slide presentation and to Page 10 of the press release financial tables.

Following today's presentation, instructions will be given for the question-and-answer session.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Philip Flynn, President and CEO, for opening remarks. Please go ahead, sir.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [2]

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Thanks, and welcome to our third quarter earnings call. Joining me, as usual, today are Chris Niles, our Chief Financial Officer; and John Hankerd, our Chief Credit Officer.

As an aside, we understand that there's some problems with the SEC's EDGAR website, so you can find our third quarter materials on our own company website.

Our third quarter GAAP earnings, on Slide 3, were $0.49 per share, driven by strong credit quality and higher noninterest income. Excluding acquisition-related cost, our earnings were $0.50 per share.

Our credit quality metrics continue to improve in the third quarter, driving a $6 million decrease in provision for credit losses and decreases in both potential problem loans and nonaccrual loans. We will continue to selectively pursue additional opportunities for credit risk mitigation in the oil and gas portfolio, but our planed derisking actions have been largely executed.

We significantly improved our funding mix this quarter, using deposits acquired in the Huntington branch transaction, coupled with proceeds from reducing our investment securities portfolio, we paid down network transaction deposits and other higher-cost funding. We continue to optimize our capital as we prepare for CECL adoption in the first quarter of next year, and we repurchased $60 million of common stock in the third quarter, leaving $82 million of our current authorization available.

Turning to Slide 4. Several factors continued to drive EPS growth in the first 9 months of 2019. Total loans have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 6% since 2017, and deposits have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 7%.

Loan growth was driven by solid commercial and business lending, while the Huntington branch acquisition, completed in June, contributed to our deposit growth. As we recently announced, we received OCC approval for the First Staunton purchase, and we anticipate First Staunton will further enhance our loan portfolio and our deposit franchise.

Our 2019 year-to-date efficiency metrics have improved over the same period in 2017, as a result of increased scale and focused expense management. Our capital priorities remain to support organic growth of the book, pay a competitive dividend, support external investments and opportunistic in-market efficiency driven acquisitions and to repurchase shares.

In 2019, we built upon our strong capital position in preparation for CECL adoption, while taking actions in line with our priorities, including paying higher dividends, acquiring the Huntington branches and repurchasing $130 million worth of common shares year-to-date.

Loan details for the third quarter are shown on Slide 5. Total loan balances were down from the prior quarter, as modest increases in our commercial real estate and home equity portfolios were offset by decreases in commercial and business lending and our residential mortgage book.

CRE lending increased in the quarter as construction loans funding outpaced the pay-downs. We note that pay-downs remain elevated, driven by lower rates that have encouraged customers to take their projects to the permanent market.

While we had strong residential mortgage originations, our overall residential portfolio was down due to higher payoff, the sale of approximately $240 million of prepayment-sensitive mortgages and the sale of $33 million of nonaccruing and restructured residential and home equity loans.

The higher payoffs were driven by lower long-term rates, which have incented borrowers to refinance.

Further, homeowners are increasingly refinancing adjustable rate mortgages, typically held in our portfolio, into fixed-rate mortgages, typically sold in the secondary markets. The sales of the $240 million of mortgages as part of our deleverage strategy and enabled us to pay-down higher-cost funding. It also reduced interest rate risk by lowering our asset sensitivity and to free up capital in advance of CECL adoption.

Turning to the commercial portfolio, the decline in commercial and business lending was primarily related to our oil and gas portfolio. As we previously discussed, we have purposely reduced our oil and gas loans due to changing dynamics in the industry, specifically more capital-intensive drilling and volatile production rates have led us to reassess and ultimately, lessen our exposure to our more highly levered borrowers.

On Slide 6, you can see in the middle graph that we've reduced the oil and gas book by about $170 million since the end of the first quarter. While we've largely executed our derisking plan, balances in this portfolio may decline slightly in the fourth quarter as we selectively pursue additional credit risk mitigation opportunities.

Our commercial real estate pipeline remains strong, as shown in the right-hand graph. Unfunded commitments have increased almost $400 million since the third quarter of 2018. While constructions funding may slow in the fourth quarter as weather become less favorable, we believe our commercial real estate portfolio is well positioned to grow in 2020.

Looking ahead, we now anticipate full year 2019 loan growth to come in below our previous guidance of 3%. Our reduced expectation is due, in part, to factors that we just mentioned; the $240 million sale of residential mortgages and the downsizing of our oil and gas portfolio.

Additionally, we're forecasting residential mortgage prepayments to accelerate in October and November, and we expect that portfolio to be down some rather than flat.

Turning to Slide 7. Average deposits were up $100 million from the second quarter. In addition to overall deposit growth, we achieved a beneficial mix shift as we increased lower-cost deposits and decreased higher-cost funding. Our lower-cost funding, which includes demand and saving deposits increased by $1 billion in the third quarter, driven by the Huntington branch acquisition in June.

Using funds from investment securities sales and runoff and funds from the sale of $240 million of prepayment-sensitive mortgages, we reduced higher-cost money market and time deposits, federal home loan bank advances and network transaction deposits by $1.3 billion.

The reduction in network transaction deposits in the quarter continues our strategy to decrease these higher-cost sources of funds, as shown on Slide 8. The improved deposit mix shift achieved during the third quarter is detailed in the right-hand graph, low-cost checking and saving deposits now comprise 55% of our deposit mix, up from 49% at the end of the first quarter.

Our loan-to-deposit ratio was 93%, well within our historical range, which gives us flexibility to continue pursuing the strategy of reducing higher-cost funding sources while keeping that ratio below 100%.

For the fourth quarter, we expect to further improve our funding mix with cash flows from our securities portfolio. We anticipate that mix improvement, along with a relatively low loan-to-deposit ratio, will help drive funding cost lower and dampen downward margin compression.

Turning to Slide 9. We continue the reduction of the investment securities portfolio to $6 billion in the third quarter as we used securities as a source of funds to pay down higher-cost institutional funding and repositioned our portfolio for a stable to declining rate environment. We reduced our lower-yielding taxable securities by about $490 million, and our tax-exempt security portfolio, we held balances essentially flat and increased yield are replacing short-duration securities with higher yielding longer-duration municipal securities. The next several months, we'll continue to use the cash runoff from our taxable portfolio to pay down higher-cost funding. We're targeting an overall securities portfolio level of about 17% to 18% of total assets, and we anticipate we'll reach that level in early 2020.

Turning to Slide 10. Net interest income was $206 million, a decrease of $7 million from the previous quarter. And our net interest margin was 2.81%, down 6 basis points from the second quarter. The lower net interest income was caused by several factors. On the asset side, average 1-month LIBOR in the third quarter decreased over 25 basis points from the second quarter, negatively impacting commercial real estate and commercial and business lending yields. Long-term interest rates were also decreased, resulting in elevated refinancing in our residential mortgage portfolio and the payoff of higher coupon loans. Additionally, this increase prepayment rate drove accelerated recognition of deferred origination costs, further reducing our mortgage yield.

Looking ahead, we expect that asset yields will continue to be pressured by persisting LIBOR compression and lower mortgage rates.

On the liability side, our total interest-bearing deposit cost decreased 12 basis points, driven by our improved deposit mix and lower rates in most deposit categories. We anticipate that deposit costs will further decrease in the fourth quarter, given our loan-to-deposit ratio remains relatively low, enabling us to grow the loan book without paying up for funding, and that our securities portfolio will remain a source of funds for the fourth quarter, allowing us to further reduce higher-cost funding.

Year-to-date, our net interest margin is 2.86%. While lower rates will continue to weigh on asset yields, we believe the actions we've taken to delever the balance sheet by reducing lower yield assets and higher-cost funding will enable us to meet the low end of our full year net interest margin guidance or about 2.84%. That outlook assumes a single 25 basis point Fed rate cut in the fourth quarter.

Turning to Slide 11, third quarter non-interest income of $101 million was up $5 million from last quarter and up $13 million year-over-year. The increase over last quarter was primarily due to gains on investments sales that we realized as part of our delevering and funding mix improvement strategy. Additionally, higher mortgage loan sales, including the sale of $240 million of prepayment-sensitive mortgages from the portfolio drove increased mortgage banking income in the quarter. These gains were partially offset by seasonally lower insurance commissions.

Moving to Slide 12. Noninterest expense of $201 million was up $3 million from the second quarter. The increase was partially due to a full quarter of occupancy expense from the acquired Huntington branches. While our occupancy cost grew, we were able to hold personnel expense flat despite staffing the additional branches.

Advertising expense was also higher in the third quarter due to planned TV and digital campaigns.

Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, we're taking actions to offset the negative impact of the challenging interest rate environment. We expect to incur approximately $3 million in restructuring charges in Q4, which will enable us to maintain flat to modestly lower noninterest expenses in 2020, that includes First Staunton cost, both integration and ongoing operating costs. We anticipate these restructuring charges will put our full year 2019 noninterest expenses in the range of $790 million to $795 million.

Turning to Slide 13. The bank's credit quality remains strong, and our credit metrics improved from the second quarter, excluding charge-offs of oil and gas loans. Potential problem loans decreased $33 million in the quarter to $133 million, driven by reductions in commercial real estate potential problem loans.

Nonaccrual loans decreased $38 million, primarily reflecting the smaller oil and gas portfolio and the sale of nonaccrual loans from the resi, mortgage and home equity portfolios.

Net charge-offs were $20 million in the quarter with the majority coming from the oil and gas book. We expect charge-offs will return to more typical levels in the fourth quarter.

Our provision for credit losses was $2 million, down from $8 million last quarter. As we previously discussed, we'd already provided for and reserve against the risks we saw in the oil and gas portfolio. As such, we believe future oil and gas loan losses will be manageable and within our historical patterns of normal provisioning.

The aggregate allowance for loan losses was 0.94% of total loans, down from previous quarter. And as we previously disclosed, we continue to expect that CECL will increase our overall allowance for credit losses by about 30% to 40%.

So with that, we'd be happy to take your questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Our first question is from Scott Siefers, Sandler O'Neill and Partners.

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Robert Scott Siefers, Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division - Principal of Equity Research [2]

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Chris, maybe first question is for you. So obviously a lot of balance sheet actions in the recent past here. I guess, just as we look forward, what would be your best guess as exactly how the bank will ultimately be positioned when these things are, indeed, fully completed? And maybe ideally, if possible as measured by how much margin would be at risk for each 25 basis points cut when everything is all said and done?

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [3]

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Sure. So I think if you look at the guidance we've given, we're at $286 million margin today, and our exposure for the full year will be to take it down towards $284 million at the end of the year, assuming another rate cut. So that's consistent with the guidances in the past, which is sort of 3-ish basis points per 25 basis point rate action. And it's in that same general range, and we're trying to further minimize that through the actions we've taken. So that would be a rough indication of the actions we're taking. We're going to be asset-sensitive because we still got the preponderance of our loans over $13.6 billion and predominantly commercial LIBOR-related assets. But we're doing all those things we can on the back end to make sure the funding costs are being adjusted downwardly as quickly as possible thereafter.

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Robert Scott Siefers, Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division - Principal of Equity Research [4]

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Okay. All right. Perfect. And then maybe Phil, you had talked about the loan growth portfolio coming in a little bit below the loan to the guide. Because I'm just curious -- I'm hoping it's just no more than really just a very modest change from a month or so ago, but given most of the actions have been disclosed at the Barclays Conference, what's the change versus the 3 -- versus the 3% previously and below that now other things...

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [5]

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Yes. We think the prepayment activity in the mortgage business is going to continue, probably more prolonged than we would've thought. And this interesting remix of people paying off their adjustable rate mortgages, which we hold in portfolio, refine those into 30-year fixed-rate stuff that we're still originating but selling on are going to dampen that portfolio to probably instead of what we assume flat, it will be down a bit this quarter. Of course, we're picking up gain on sale, whatever that turns out to be on the other side of that.

The pipeline in the commercial business continues to look good. The pipeline in commercial real estate and the unfunded commitments look good. So there isn't any big seismic shift going on here we think for demand, it's more driven by this interest rate environment that everybody is adjusting to.

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Robert Scott Siefers, Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division - Principal of Equity Research [6]

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Okay. Perfect. And then, I guess, along the lines of the mortgage sales, the $240 million sale of portfolio loans in the third quarter. Are you able to quantify what the gain-related, specifically to those sales were?

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [7]

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The growth gain was approaching $5 million. However, we would note we did hold some current period production. So it's not that it was $5 million of excess. We sold $5 million of old instead of selling to gain $3 million or $3.5 million of new. So incrementally, it was probably worth about $1.5 million to $2 million.

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Operator [8]

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Our next question is from Chris McGratty, KBW.

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Christopher Edward McGratty, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD [9]

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Phil or Chris, the expense -- just want to make sure I got the expense guide right for 2020. You're seeing this year $790 million, $795 million, including the one-timers. Are the one-timers for next year related to the acquisition? Or is this a simple exercise of putting $790 million to $795 million in for next year? And then maybe some slight acceleration?

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [10]

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Yes. So to restate what I just said, this year we'll come in at $790 million, $795 million total. Next year, we will close the First Staunton deal in the first quarter. That will obviously have integration costs associated with it. And then there will be additional operating expenses that will bear throughout the year. Including all of that, we anticipate that our expenses with the actions that we're taking right now will be lower -- flat to moderately lower than where we come in this year.

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Christopher Edward McGratty, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD [11]

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Do you have any idea what the one-time charges are for that transaction, will back that out?

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [12]

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The one-time charges will be a mid-single-digit millions number.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [13]

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Yes. Probably under $5 million.

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [14]

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But this year, remember, we had one-time charges related to Huntington that were similar.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [15]

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And then in that $790 million to $795 million for this year also includes a $3 million restructuring charge that we anticipate this quarter in order to set up next year in the way that I just described. And then maybe a couple ... already pretty harsh expense management going on around here right now, as you would expect.

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Christopher Edward McGratty, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD [16]

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Yes. Sounds like it. Just a couple of housekeeping and then I'll step back. The FDIC benefit, a lot of your peers have been getting, was there a benefit this quarter that resulted in lower expenses?

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [17]

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If -- I think if you look at the trend in ours, it was -- ours was realized earlier in the year for different reasons. But yes, it's not a significant trend to our knowledge this quarter.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [18]

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I mean, it's trended lower, but it started a while ago.

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Christopher Edward McGratty, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD [19]

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Got it. And then the tax benefit was -- can you quantify that? I think in the release, you said that there was a charitable donation.

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [20]

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That was last quarter. Incremental in this quarter.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [21]

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Yes.

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Operator [22]

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Our next question is from Jon Arfstrom, RBC Capital Markets.

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Jon Glenn Arfstrom, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - MD [23]

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A question on the restructuring charge. I know it's small, but just give us an idea of what you're doing and what's driving that?

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [24]

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Yes. So...

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Jon Glenn Arfstrom, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - MD [25]

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You may not want to talk about it, but I'm just curious.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [26]

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Yes, we haven't fully disclosed everything yet. We've got some filings to do. So I'd rather leave it at that for now, Jon.

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Jon Glenn Arfstrom, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - MD [27]

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Okay. All right. In terms of the fee businesses, just had a question on the insurance and wealth kind of a flattish year-over-year, I mean, not terrible, you're holding your own. But give us an idea of the outlook there. And what you’re planning there. And is there a way to accelerate that growth?

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [28]

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Sure. I think there's a number of business initiatives underway, Jon, to accelerate the insurance business. Clearly, we've been digesting a couple of acquisitions over the last couple of years. There is a seasonal pattern here through the course of the year. But to your observation, year-over-year, it probably hasn't grown as much as we would've hoped. In fact, we expect it to be a positive value and it's kind of trending flat. With regards to the wealth management business, I think fee competition continues to be a factor there. Assets under management have continued to grow, but fee compression is a real force at play. And we're actively obviously responding to market conditions but continue to grow clients and continue to grow our presence in the market. So we're encouraged by that.

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Jon Glenn Arfstrom, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - MD [29]

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Okay. All right. And then one more back on loan growth, just a general commercial outlook. I think we all understand some of the pressures from oil and gas and resi and refinance, but just any thoughts on the general commercial outlook, any changes in attitude of the borrowers at all?

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [30]

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No. I think we talked about this in the last call. I think the general sentiment is one of uncertainty what's going on going forward. You got collection issues, you've got all the drama in Washington continued worries about trade war. So I think people are anxious about that and perhaps delaying some of their capital initiatives, but not to a great extent. I mean, the pipeline still look fine. And we have a number of transactions we know that we'll be funding up in the fourth quarter. So I wouldn't dramatically change our outlook, but just the sentiment is continuing to trend in the wrong direction.

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Operator [31]

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(Operator Instructions) Our next question is from Jared Shaw, Wells Fargo Securities.

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Jared David Wesley Shaw, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - MD & Senior Analyst [32]

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Just, I guess a couple of detailed questions on the securities portfolio. What's the yield roll off that you're seeing as those cash flows come in? And what should we be looking at is that incremental cost of the higher-cost deposits that you're going to be paying off?

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [33]

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Yes. So the yield roll off -- those payments across the entire $4 billion of taxable, which had an average yield of 2.33%. So the yield roll off is a tad bit higher than that, but not much. And so it's been the source of funds as we pay down things. So today, you'll notice our federal home loan bank advance rate has been averaged of 2.32%. So we'll be looking to manage that at the margin downward and make sure we make the most of it.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [34]

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And we called the $250 million note also, which what we were paying on that 2.75%.

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [35]

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2.75%s.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [36]

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Yes. So that's gone. So we're picking up a net benefit there.

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Jared David Wesley Shaw, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - MD & Senior Analyst [37]

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Okay. And got it. And then on the incremental oil and gas derisking that you're talking about, is that really just going to be more cash flow and refinancing that portfolio? Or do you expect to take a couple of charge-offs in that next quarter?

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [38]

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No. We anticipate that there'll be some more charges but not at the level that you just saw us take in the third quarter. And you're right, after finishing up a couple of distressed credits here, we've worked through almost all of those at that point. The portfolio will shrink down as borrowing base is redetermined lower or as we exit credits in that means. So it'll -- the pace of -- the decline of that book is going to slow. But we feel like we've dealt with over this -- first 3 quarters of this year some of the more highly leveraged stuff that we were concerned about.

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Jared David Wesley Shaw, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - MD & Senior Analyst [39]

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And you had said that you feel that the -- that you provided for [you need to in] there. So even if we see charge-offs, it may not necessarily flow through the provision.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [40]

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That's correct.

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Jared David Wesley Shaw, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - MD & Senior Analyst [41]

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Okay. And then what's the allowance on the oil and gas portfolio at the end of the quarter?

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [42]

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It's about $4 million right now.

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [43]

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4%.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [44]

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I'm sorry, 4%.

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Operator [45]

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Our next question is from Terry McEvoy, Stephens Incorporated.

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Terence James McEvoy, Stephens Inc., Research Division - MD and Research Analyst [46]

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A question for Chris. I'm just trying to think about the fourth quarter average earning assets. Maybe if you could just talk about the reduction in the securities portfolio. I think, Phil said ultimately, down to 17% or 18%. I'm just curious much of that will occur in the fourth quarter?

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [47]

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Yes. So I think we've said -- Phil's comments were, over the next several months through the first quarter. So perhaps it's phased -- I think that is phased out over the next 2 quarters. And keep in mind, we'll be getting some new balances in from First Staunton likely at the end of the first quarter. So we'll start rebuilding from there.

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Terence James McEvoy, Stephens Inc., Research Division - MD and Research Analyst [48]

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And then a question, the deposits. Any deposit attrition since June coming from the HBAN branches deposits that you acquired. I can't remember as part of that transaction, had you planned on consolidating any of those branch locations?

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [49]

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Yes. We consolidated a lot of them. That's all done.

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [50]

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So all consolidations were done. We did assume at the time of the acquisition about a 10% attrition to the best of my knowledge, we're running inside of those numbers. And aside from the CD books, which obviously repriced lower, the core checking, savings, money market relationship accounts are all being retained at 90%.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [51]

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Or a better...

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Christopher J. Del Moral-Niles, Associated Banc-Corp - Executive VP & CFO [52]

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Or a better level.

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Terence James McEvoy, Stephens Inc., Research Division - MD and Research Analyst [53]

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Okay. And the reason as I was trying to think about the restructuring that you just announced earlier on this call, if it was connected at all to those branches, but that's largely been completed?

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [54]

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Correct.

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Operator [55]

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We have reached the end of the question-and-answer session. And I will now turn the call back over to Philip Flynn for closing remarks.

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Philip B. Flynn, Associated Banc-Corp - President, CEO & Director [56]

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Okay. Thanks for joining us everybody today. We are pleased with the bottom line results this quarter and the improving credit quality and funding mix that we've been working so hard on. So we'll look forward to talking to you again in January and to welcoming First Staunton colleagues and customers to Associated in February. If you have any questions, as always, give us a call, and thanks for your interest in Associated.

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Operator [57]

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This concludes today's conference. You may disconnect your lines at this time. Thank you for your participation.