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Edited Transcript of WASH earnings conference call or presentation 29-Jan-19 1:30pm GMT

Q4 2018 Washington Trust Bancorp Inc Earnings Call

WESTERLY Jan 30, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Washington Trust Bancorp Inc earnings conference call or presentation Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 1:30:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Edward O. Handy

Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO

* Elizabeth B. Eckel

Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior VP and Chief Marketing & Corporate Communications Officer

* Mark K. W. Gim

Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO

* Ronald S. Ohsberg

Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer

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Conference Call Participants

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* Damon Paul DelMonte

Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - SVP and Director

* Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker

Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst

* Mark Thomas Fitzgibbon

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

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good morning, and welcome to Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc.'s conference call. My name is Melissa, I will be your operator today. (Operator Instructions)

Today's call is being recorded. I would now like to turn the call over to Elizabeth B. Eckel, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Corporate Communications Officer. Ms. Eckel?

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Elizabeth B. Eckel, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior VP and Chief Marketing & Corporate Communications Officer [2]

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Good morning, and welcome to Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc.'s conference call in the fourth quarter and full year 2018. Today's call will be hosted by Washington Trust executive team, Ned Handy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Mark Gim, President and Chief Operating Officer; and Ron Ohsberg, Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer.

Before we begin, please note that today's presentation may contain forward-looking statements and that the actual results could differ materially from what is discussed on today's call.

Our complete safe harbor statement appears in our earnings press release and in other documents that we filed with the SEC. The complete safe harbor statement in all of our SEC-filed documents can be found on our Investor Relations website at ir.washtrust.com. Washington Trust trades under the NASDAQ under the symbol WASH. I'm pleased now to introduce Washington Trust's Chairman and CEO, Ned Handy.

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [3]

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Thank you, Beth. Good morning, and thank you for joining us on today's call. This morning, I'll review the highlights for the fourth quarter and the full year 2018, and Ron will provide a more in-depth analysis of our financial results. And then Ron, Mark and I will answer any questions you have about the quarter, the year and what lies ahead in 2019.

Washington Trust had a solid fourth quarter, as we posted net income of $17 million or $0.98 per diluted share. As a result of our consistent performance throughout 2018 as well as the lower federal corporate tax rate due to tax reform, we earned a record $68.4 million, or $3.93 per diluted share for the full year of 2018.

In addition to these strong earnings, Washington Trust also reached $5 billion in total assets at year-end and posted all-time high levels of total deposits and total loans.

Our performance ratios are sound. We're well capitalized and our asset quality remains strong. It was another good year for Washington Trust, and these achievements are testaments to our continued success in growing our key business lines and expanding our presence throughout the region.

We've reached $3.5 billion in total deposits at year-end. We were aggressive with CD promotions during the year, which helped us attract new money and capture new customer relationships.

Also as you may recall, in June, we transitioned approximately $70 million of wealth management client assets, which had previously been held outside of Washington Trust onto our balance sheet and placed them into insured interest-bearing demand deposit accounts.

At year-end, those balances had increased to more than $94 million. Deposit generation remains a priority and continues to be competitive. We carefully monitor deposit pricing and our cost of funds.

We've had good success in generating deposits through organic growth. In November, we celebrated the first anniversary of our Coventry office, which is off to a good start with more than $13 million in deposits. And just 2 weeks ago, we opened the new branch in North Providence, Rhode Island. North Providence is a densely populated town with lots of small businesses and rooftops offering plenty of opportunities for a community bank like Washington Trust. We're very excited about that new branch.

On the lending side, we reached $3.7 billion in total loans at year-end with double-digit percentage growth in both residential mortgage and commercial loans in the year. Total commercial loans topped the $2 billion mark at year-end. We have a great commercial team, and we're proud of their efforts in generating commercial real estate and C&I loans.

We continued to have payoffs in the fourth quarter, as we've come to expect, given today's relatively high valuations. Commercial activity was very strong in the fourth quarter, and the commercial pipeline is rebuilding well heading into 2019 after very strong fourth quarter closings.

Residential mortgage loans totaled $1.4 billion at the end of 2018, up by almost 11% from a year earlier. However, similar to other mortgage lenders and banks nationwide, we saw a decline in residential mortgage activity in the fourth quarter.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article in December, home sales fell to their lowest levels since 2015. There were many factors that contributed to the December slowdown, including a lack of inventory, rising home prices, which impacted affordability for many homebuyers. Other factors impacting the fourth quarter included rising interest rates, volatility in the stock market and general seasonal slowdown during the holiday season.

Our pipeline is lower at this point than it has been in a few years, indicating the 2019 overall mortgage activity may be returning to more traditional purchase market levels.

That said, we've implemented several new programs and processes to ensure that our mortgage banking model is sustainable and will continue to serve as a good source of revenues for the company.

In 2018, we introduced a hedging programs to efficiently felicitate the sale of loans into the secondary market. We continue to recruit top-quality mortgage professionals to increase production in growth markets. We recently added a team of mortgage lenders who will work out of our existing Glastonbury, Connecticut office, and serve the Connecticut market.

Wealth management assets were $5.9 billion at December 31, which was down from the previous quarter as these assets were adversely impacted by the financial market declines in the fourth quarter. Throughout 2018, the financial markets took everyone on a roller coaster ride, and that ride ended with a significant drop in December, as the Dow and S&P 500 recorded their worst performance since 1931, and the biggest monthly loss since February of 2009.

And while the financial markets rebounded a bit in early January, the recent government shutdown and other factors indicate that market volatility may continue in 2019.

Earlier this month, we introduced a new Private Clients Group dedicated to generating new wealth management assets from business owners and high net worth individuals.

As you know, Washington Trust has been around for 218 years, and has had trust powers for more than 100 years, so we've been providing Private Client Services to generations of families and businesses.

This is a more formalized program to ensure that we are doing all that we can to service the wealth management needs of our business and professionals -- clients in the marketplace.

I'll now turn the call over to Ron for a review of our financial performance. Ron?

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [4]

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Thank you, Ned. Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us on our call today, and I'll review our fourth quarter 2018 operating results and financial position as described in our press release, which was issued on Monday.

As Ned mentioned, net income was $17 million or $0.98 per diluted share for the fourth quarter as compared to $17.5 million and $1.01 for the third quarter. We also reported return on equity of 15.61%, and return on assets of 1.40%. Net interest income for the fourth quarter rose by $429,000, or 1%. The margin was 2.95%, down 4 basis points.

Income from loan payoffs and prepayment penalties totaled $144,000 compared to $173,000 in the third quarter, and excluding these amounts, the margin was 2.94% also down 4 basis points.

The average balance of interest-earning assets rose by $124 million or 3% on a linked quarter basis. The yield on average earning assets increased 10 basis points from the preceding quarter to 4.13%.

On the funding side, average in-market deposits were up $66 million, and the average balance of wholesale funding sources was up $37 million from the third quarter.

The cost of in-market deposits was up 75 basis -- was 75 basis points, up 13 basis points in the quarter. The cost of wholesale funding was 2.31%, rising by 18 basis points.

Noninterest income comprised 31% of total revenues in the fourth quarter and amounted to $15.2 million, roughly equal to Q3.

Wealth management revenues were $9 million, down $442,000 or 5%. The decrease was caused by a $552 million or 9% decline in assets under administration, virtually all of which resulted from fourth quarter volatility in the equity markets.

Our mortgage banking revenues totaled $2 million in the fourth quarter, down by $646,000 or 25%. These results reflected a $34 million, or 25% decline in loans sold to the secondary market as well as a lower sales yield compared to Q3.

Loan related derivative income was $1.4 million, an increase of $1.1 million compared to last quarter and was commensurate with the strong commercial loan growth we recorded in Q4.

And now let me turn to expenses. Total expenses increased by $620,000 or 2% from the previous quarter. Significant items include an OREO write-down of $833,000 in the quarter, which compared with the $197,000 write-down in Q3. In Q4, we also recorded a $187,000 nontaxable contra expense to reverse the contingent consideration liability related to a prior acquisition. And in the third quarter, a onetime third-party vendor credit of $300,000 was recognized as a reduction to outsourced services expense. Excluding these items, noninterest expenses were actually down $129,000. Included in this was a reduction in mortgage commissions of approximately $400,000, which was commensurate with the reduction in mortgage origination buy-ins during the quarter.

Income tax expense totaled $4.5 million in Q4, and our effective income tax rate was 21%, which compared to 21.3% in last quarter. And the effective tax rate for the full year was 21.1%.

Turning to the balance sheet. We had a strong growth in both earning assets and deposits. Total loans were up by $124 million or 3.5% from the end of the third quarter and by $306 million or 9.1% from a year ago.

Commercial loans were up $116 million or 6.1%, with the CRE portfolio increasing by $152 million, while the C&I portfolio declined by $36 million.

Residential loans rose by $11 million, and consumer loans were down $3 million.

Investment securities increased by $115 million, reflecting purchases of debt securities of $124 million in December.

Total deposits rose by $110 million or 3.2% in the quarter and were up $281 million, or 8.7% from a year ago.

In-market deposits were up $76 million, and wholesale brokered CDs were up $33 million, while FHLB bonds increased by $122 million.

Asset quality remains very strong. Nonaccruing loans were 0.32% of total loans, compared to 0.3% -- 0.30% at the end of September, and delinquent loans as a percentage of loans outstanding decreased by 1 basis point to 0.37%.

Net charge-offs were $237,000 versus $15,000 last quarter, and were just 3% (sic) [3 basis points] of average loans for both the quarter and the year.

The allowance for loan losses was 0.74% of total loans, down 1 basis point and provided NPL coverage of 231%.

The loan loss provision was $800,000 compared to $350,000 in Q3 and reflected growth in the loan portfolio.

Total shareholders' equity was $448 million, up $20 million compared to Q3. The company remains well capitalized with a risk-based capital ratio of 12.56%. The tangible equity to tangible assets ratio was 7.62% compared to 7.57% last quarter. And finally, our fourth quarter dividend declaration of $0.47 per share, an increase of $0.04, was paid on January 11. And at this time, I will turn the call back to Ned.

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [5]

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Thanks, Ron. So another solid quarter and strong year in the books. It's hard to believe that it was a year ago that Mark, Ron and I were introduced to the new leadership team for Washington Trust. Joe MarcAurele and David DeVault, like their predecessors, helped us with the company that has a long, proud history, solid financial foundation and an outstanding team of dedicated employees that care about their communities and their customers.

I'm pleased that we were able to generate record results in 2018 and build upon the legacy of Washington Trust.

As we look ahead to 2019, we once again face many challenges, but we're strategically positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that come our way. We're off to a good start, as we kicked off the year with several new initiatives, including the opening of our new North Providence branch, the introduction of the Private Clients Group and the expansion of our Connecticut mortgage banking team.

We're committed to enhancing the value of the company for our shareholders and appreciate their continued support and confidence in us.

So thank you all for your time. And now Mark, Ron and I will answer questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from the line of Mark Fitzgibbon with Sandler O'Neill.

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Mark Thomas Fitzgibbon, Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division - Principal & Director of Research [2]

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Wondering if you could help us think about sort of the outlook for expenses and the net interest margin?

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [3]

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Yes, so Mark, I'll -- this is Ron, I'll take that. So I'll start with the margin. So we've seen in the recent quarters that funding price -- funding costs are repricing faster than our loan portfolio. And that's putting downward pressure on the margin. This is even as we do maintain an asset-sensitive balance sheet, where the increases in interest rates have been accretive to income. But as you know, we're relatively dependent on wholesale funding, that's -- those costs are -- respond to the changes in interest rates. We put on a number of promo CDs, which are relatively more expensive. Those will continue to reprice as they mature going forward. So in light of all that, the fact that deposit betas and cost of funds betas in general are increasing faster than asset betas, leading us to think that we're going to see some NIM compression. I would say the outlook for the full year 2019 is probably in the mid-290s.

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Mark Thomas Fitzgibbon, Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division - Principal & Director of Research [4]

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Okay.

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [5]

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And then as far as expenses, nothing really to talk about here. We would expect noninterest expense growth for the -- for 2019 to be in the 3% to 4% range. We're making some modest investments in private clients, as Ned mentioned, some technology infrastructure enhancements, nothing unusual as well as we have the new North Providence branch coming online. So we've got some modest expenses baked into the 3-point -- 3% to 4% increase.

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Mark Thomas Fitzgibbon, Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division - Principal & Director of Research [6]

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Okay. And then, I noticed the securities portfolio growth this quarter. And I assume it was a function of just an opportunity and to put some additional leverage on. I suspect that you're probably not going to continue to grow the portfolio at an outsized rate like we saw this quarter?

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [7]

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We will look at it opportunistically, Mark. I mean adding some leverage brings up some income. So there is actually a negative impact on NIM. It's a little dilutive to NIM. We think the earnings are more important.

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [8]

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Yes. And Mark, this is Mark. Just to give some clarity on that. When you look at where financial markets went in the last quarter, it was kind of a wild ride, both in terms of forward outlook for Fed policy in 2019, and I think sentiment has changed on that. And just the absolute level and shape of the yield curve, which changed pretty dramatically from the middle of the fourth quarter to the end of the fourth quarter. And when we added securities to the portfolio in mid- to late fourth quarter, our feeling was that it was an opportune time given the absolute level of rates. And we throw off anywhere between $80 million and $100 million in cash flow from the securities portfolio on an annualized basis. So this gives us some flexibility to decide whether or not we wish to maintain those levels based on curve shape going forward. And as Ron said, and then take opportunity of income-positive, EPS-positive, ROE-positive opportunities to grow the balance sheet.

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Mark Thomas Fitzgibbon, Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division - Principal & Director of Research [9]

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And what kind of duration or average life did you put them on at?

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [10]

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We were adding longer duration, I think, Ron. I mean primarily looking forward to the end of a Fed cycle sometime over the next couple of years.

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [11]

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That's right. I don't have the actual duration on that, Mark, but I could get that if you want.

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [12]

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Longer term NPS and longer data agency callables. So no credit risk, really all agency -- or it's sponsored agency product.

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Mark Thomas Fitzgibbon, Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division - Principal & Director of Research [13]

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And then the $833,000 OREO write-down, was that related to a commercial credit, or a couple of commercial credits? Or what was -- what drove that?

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [14]

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Yes. So right now, we have a single commercial real estate -- well, commercial property in our OREO book. And we foreclosed on that earlier in the year. We received a new appraisal in the fourth quarter, which really downgraded the assumed highest and best use of the property from a medical office building to straight office. So really just a function of the change in the expected use of the property resulted in a downgrade to the valuation.

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [15]

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Yes, Mark, it's Ned, I can give you a little more color on that. So this is an asset that's been around as a loan asset for a while, and you've heard it before. It's been one of our -- it's causing charge-offs in prior quarters. We took it into OREO. When we did that, we had to get a new appraisal. And about the same time, a big hospital group decided to build a medical office building nearby. So it kind of transitioned this -- the highest and best use of this property from medical office, which by the way was pretty dated and needed a lot of repairs, to just straight office, because obviously, the market need for medical offices has been taken up by a new office building about 2 blocks away. So we got a new appraisal that reflected that. It came in lower. And so we took the OREO expense while it was an OREO. Frankly, I don't see that as a core expense. We don't -- it's not like we have a lot of OREO assets, and we'll always have this expense. We've got one. So I think this is -- we've got it positioned well now for sale and are in the process of marketing it.

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Mark Thomas Fitzgibbon, Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division - Principal & Director of Research [16]

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Okay. And then loan level derivative income was really strong this quarter. I assume that's -- it sees some seasonality and maybe some unusual things in there. Should we assume in the first quarter that comes back down to maybe a couple of hundred thousand bucks?

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [17]

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I think that's -- it's very chunky. Obviously, it follows volume, mostly the real estate volume. We had a great fourth quarter. That definitely is reflected in the swap income in the fourth quarter. And I think if you look at last year's total, that's probably a pretty good indication of what might happen in the year ahead. So definitely, it travels over quarter end and can be big one quarter and lower the next.

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Operator [18]

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Our next question comes from the line of Damon DelMonte with KBW.

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Damon Paul DelMonte, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - SVP and Director [19]

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So first question, I just wanted to talk a little bit about outlook for loan growth. You finished the year pretty strong. Just kind of wondering what the pipelines look like right now and kind of how you're feeling about 2019.

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [20]

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So on the commercial side, Damon, we had -- obviously, we had a big fourth quarter. So we're in rebuild mode. But the commercial pipeline looks strong. It's at about $120 million right now and growing. There's a lot in the earlier stages of the pipeline. So I feel very good about where the commercial pipeline is. The resi pipeline is down a little bit relative to prior years at this time, just given a little bit of a slowdown in the marketplace. And Mark?

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [21]

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Yes, I would say -- Damon, this is Mark. As we look at 2019, we would guess that origination volumes might be slightly down in total from 2018. However, the step back in the 10-year to the $275,000 range may change that. Recall that some of our origination is for sale, but a lot is for portfolio, particularly in the Boston market area where many loans are nonsalable for reasons of size. So portfolio growth similar to or slightly lower than last year at a percentage basis, we think, would be a reasonable indicator. But a lot has to do with the level of interest rates going forward.

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Damon Paul DelMonte, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - SVP and Director [22]

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Got you. Okay. So would you suggest then that the growth will be equally split between commercial and consumer? Or do you think that the commercial side will kind of grow at a faster pace?

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [23]

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Yes. I think the commercial side will grow kind of in the mid-single digits level, similar to this year. The pipeline suggests that's the case. And so I -- and on the resi side, I'm guessing we'll come in a little bit below what we did last year just based on the overall marketplace. And the pipeline suggests we're a little behind where we were last year, so I think a little slower growth on the resi side.

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Damon Paul DelMonte, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - SVP and Director [24]

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Okay. And then, like during this last quarter, could you just talk a little bit about what drove the CRE growth? And what drove the pull back in C&I?

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [25]

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Yes. So we're, frankly, just closing out loans in the pipeline. We had additions on the real estate side of $139 million of new loans. We had -- we have a pretty big construction book, so we're kind of averaging the average in the quarter of about $10 million a month in construction fundings on the real estate side. So -- and then also, for this particular quarter, we had about $47 million in payoffs and pay-downs. So that continues. It was, I guess, a little slower pace of the pay-downs in the fourth quarter than prior quarters. So net-net growth in commercial real estate of $152 million in the quarter. On the C&I side, we had -- we didn't have very big originations in the quarter. We also had an asset transfer over -- back over to the real estate side. It was a senior housing deal that really belongs in the commercial real estate book. So that $29 million came out of the commercial book just for that transfer. And then we had $21 million of pay-downs on the C&I side of things. So the C&I book with that transfer and with the pay-downs and with relatively low originations reduced by $36 million in the quarter. For the year, we had $75 million in new originations in C&I. And we had $32 million in average increase in line utilization. Line utilization at year end was down a little bit. So I think we had decent growth. I mean -- but we had $98 million in pay-downs in C&I alone in 2018. So we had -- we stayed flat. We grew a little bit, by $8 million in the year. Real estate, we had $182 million in pay-downs. But between construction and new loans, good originations, and so we grew the book by $182 million in the year on the real estate side. So again, that volume is 94% centered in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. So we didn't travel far and wide for it. We have a bit of construction, although I'd say the pace of new construction loans has slowed a little bit in the fourth quarter. Most of what we're funding is stuff that's been on the books for a while. Our construction book is about 50% funded at this point, the existing book. So I -- we'll have -- we'll continue to have decent construction funding in the quarters ahead, which is great to offset some of the payoffs. We do expect -- and valuations are still high. So we expect that the pay-downs on the real estate side will still happen. I hope that as rates come up, that will slow a bit in the quarters ahead.

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Damon Paul DelMonte, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - SVP and Director [26]

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Okay, great. That's really good color. And then I guess just lastly on the fee income side. So you talked about mortgage being down from last year. A more normalized swap level will kind of give us something similar to this past year as well. Can you talk a little bit about your expectation for overall growth given those 2 dynamics? Do you expect wealth management and maybe interchange income to grow at a faster pace to give you a net growth in fee income for '19?

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [27]

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Yes, so Damon, it's Ron. So on the wealth side, given the market contraction that we had, given the lost business that we had earlier in 2018. If you think about it year-over-year, we're probably down -- looking to be down maybe 2-ish-percent, to be honest. So equity markets were down. Our assets under management were down 9% in the fourth quarter. Some of that's come back. The S&P and the Dow have rebounded in January. It's up about 5%. What happens from here is really anyone's guess. So I would say if you're thinking about it year-over-year, we're probably down.

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [28]

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Yes. And Damon, this is Mark. One way of thinking about it is we entered the low point of market impact of AUA in late fourth quarter 2018. So looking at the fourth quarter's fee income as a run rate, we would actually begin -- we actually began 2018, given the market pullback, at a lower point than we've began the fourth quarter. So Q4 is, all things being equal, probably a little higher than run rate for Q1 would be, ex impact of market movements, which we are all hopeful will be positive, but there's no guessing what the timing of that would be. Just for context, a little between 50% and 55% of our AUA is equity-based. So you could look to the S&P as a proxy for that, 30%-ish, 35% is bond-based. So you could look at the 5-year or 10-year treasury and its price movement as a proxy for that. So a lot really depends on that combination of market movement in 2019, and net new business generation to drive the run rate going forward.

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Operator [29]

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(Operator Instructions) Our next question comes from the line of Laurie Hunsicker with Compass Point.

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Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker, Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst [30]

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Just staying with wealth management. Can you help us think about the new Private Clients Group and how much you expect them to add in full year '19?

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [31]

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Sure. Yes, Laurie, this is Mark. First of all, we're hopeful that this will add more opportunity to expand wealth relationships with existing commercial clients and residential mortgage -- higher net worth residential mortgage clients in the areas that we don't already have a bank presence. That said, the business development curve for wealth management typically tends to be a longer sales cycle than for a commercial or residential mortgage. So I think we would really be looking towards the second half of the year for meaningful contributions from that to begin to kick in. This is kind of an extension of the wealth management business development sales force. The initiative, I think, should allow us more opportunity to gather net new business from existing clients as well as external markets. And I think, Ned, as we look at traction, we'll determine how much we want to expand that in the second half of 2019 and 2020.

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [32]

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Yes, Laurie, I would say it's in its early stages. It is an effort to try and maximize our opportunities with some of our commercial executives. The gentleman that's running it has a commercial lending background and a credit background, and is one of our sort of top sales guys. And we think we can grow both the interplay between commercial and wealth, and wealth and mortgage. And so this is the start of an effort to really fill in the gaps between business lines and have -- and use financial planning as a tool to sit with some of our existing and prospective commercial customers, real state customers, and have a more meaningful discussion with them about wealth opportunities and deposits and mortgage and all of the rest of our product capabilities. So I would tell you, it's early, and we hope for great things. But I think in the quarters to come, we'll have more to tell you about that.

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Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker, Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst [33]

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Okay. And just along those lines, I mean, as we sit looking forward a year from now, could that be a $50 million or $100 million or $150 million book? How do you think about where that target is?

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [34]

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Yes. We're hesitant to give numbers. I can tell you that individual business development, a contribution per business development officer in the $50 million range of net new assets per the year would be a good aspirational target.

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Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker, Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst [35]

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Perfect. Okay. And then same question. As we think about mortgage banking and your expanded banking team in Connecticut, how should we be thinking about that revenue line in 2019?

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [36]

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So the origination costs are marginally flexible because commissions paid are based on volume generated. A percentage of each originator's production can be salable versus portfolio gains. You pay commissions on them whether or not they go into portfolio, whether they're gain-related. Again, that team is in the early stages of its build-out. Probably if you were to look at individual producers, something between $15 million and $20 million per originator is a reasonable first year estimate.

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [37]

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Yes, Laurie, these are lenders that have been in that marketplace for a while, they're coming from another institution, and so they know the market. They've got to learn our processes and our way of doing things, and so it might take a little bit of time to get up and running. But we expect them to -- as Mark said, kind of the $15 million to $20 million in mortgage production, I think, is reasonable to assume. That's what we would expect.

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Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker, Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst [38]

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Okay. And then just looking at your overall mortgage banking revenue line, as we're thinking about this again for 2019, given the pressure we've seen on the business, directionally, we should be expecting that to fall into 2019 despite the add? Or how should we be thinking about that?

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [39]

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Despite the adds, we would expect -- all things being equal on a baseline, same to same, we would expect it -- I think Fannie and Freddie would say the same thing -- to fall slightly. The more we can find additional teams to add to it, the more we can help offset that slight decline. I think we would say that in the markets we serve, Massachusetts, particularly and the greater Boston area, remains quite robust. So while there has been a lot of talk about the national slowdown in housing, we think that the markets that we are in are less affected than some of the hot ones that would have had more rapid growth, and therefore, may be more rapid cooling, where it might change. The most sensitive to interest rates, really, is the conforming salable agency product. We have been very vigilant about credit quality on portfolio, loan originations and maintain a very high FICO standards in that area. So I guess what I want to say is depending on rates, the mix of what's salable in the portfolio may change. But as we add the teams, we should lessen the impact of a drop-off in volume compared to just baseline. Does that help?

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Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker, Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst [40]

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Yes, that helps. Okay. And so just thinking about that, thinking about wealth management rev, mortgage banking, and obviously, your loan derivative income being a bit lumpy. If we're thinking about noninterest income year-over-year comparison, is a 5% drop -- does that seem in the range? Or can you help us think about that in a little bit of a tighter range?

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [41]

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Yes, Laurie, it's Ron. I'd say all-in, we're kind of modeling like a 2% decline.

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Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker, Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst [42]

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2% decline. Okay. Perfect, that's helpful. Quick question on net interest expenses. Your outsourced services, it looked like that jumped in the quarter. Was there something non-reoccurring? Or is that the run rate?

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [43]

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Yes, we had a $300,000 non-recurring credit in the third quarter.

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Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker, Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst [44]

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Okay. Great.

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [45]

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The third quarter was low, is a better way of thinking about it. A onetime true-up in Q3.

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Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker, Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst [46]

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Got it. Okay. And then quick question on the deposit side. Can you help us think about your cost of deposits going forward? We saw a pretty big jump, obviously, in your overall cost of deposits, up 15 basis points linked quarter, and even your core. And I realize some of that is, obviously, a focus on promotions and so forth, as you said. But can you help us think about how your promotions are going to be running? And directionally, where we're seeing that?

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [47]

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Yes. So over the last 18 months, we've brought in about $309 million of promotional CD product. About 90% of that was new money. Recently, that rate has been about 3%. We have got -- I think the weighted average rate of all of those deposits was about 2 55. Some of those were underwritten earlier in the cycle, and so they will be maturing at some point in 2019, and they will reprice. Hopefully, not up to the 3%. But 3% is kind of the going rate for CDs. In Rhode Island right now, we're seeing that across -- kind of across the industry...

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [48]

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The [going] rate for promotional CDs, not for the rack rate, but...

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [49]

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Yes. Not the rack rate, but really, the volume is all flowing through promotions at this point, I think, would be fair to say. So those will be repricing, continuing to reprice up as they mature in 2019. In addition, we have got a fairly sizable book of FHLB advances and wholesale brokered CDs. Those are very sensitive to rates. We keep those maturities relatively short. There will still be some repricing upward in the first half of 2019 related to those as well. So some considerable upward pressure on the margin as a result of rising cost of funds.

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Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker, Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst [50]

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That makes sense. Okay. And then just on the subject of CDs, because we've seen that percentage grow. Is there a thought that 35% CD mix, this is where you keep it? Or is there a plan to bring it down? Or how are you thinking about that? And I guess the same question on the wholesale money as well. How are you thinking about that?

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Ronald S. Ohsberg, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Senior EVP, CFO & Treasurer [51]

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Yes. So listen, so we have a reliance on wholesale funding. The brokered CDs are cheaper than FHLB. So we will keep those kind of maxed out at 9.5% of total assets. There's kind of an FDIC insurance penalty if you go higher than that. So I would expect as the balance sheet grows, we'll continue to grow those brokered CDs as long as they're cheaper than FHLB. As far as retail CDs, it's been kind of a competitive product for us to bring in money from new customers, from existing customers. Most of it's new money to the bank. It also gives us the opportunity to start cross-selling DDA and other products, other loan products. We do a pretty good job with our relationship building with our customers. So we like the CDs. Certainly a much better alternative for us than funding it wholesale. It's cheaper than FHLB, so we're likely to continue on that path.

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [52]

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Laurie, its Ned. We took an aggressive stance on that early on. We went out to, I think, the 3% level right out of the gate kind of a year ago or -- and we got -- I think we got ahead of the pack. And we made the decision that it's better off that rates would rise, and would catch up with that, with those promotional rates. And then we slowed a bit and we moved it. We went from 18 months out to 27 months on a 3% CD. So we've been pretty strategic about it. It's brought with it, obviously, a lot of new customers. Some checking accounts with those CDs. And generally 2-year kind of rate. So we're giving our branches the opportunity to work with these new customers for a couple of years. And I would put [up] our branch folks up against anybody to have good conversations with those customers and convert them to deeper, more efficient product sets for us and solutions for those customers. And that's part of the strategy, is just to bring more people into the branches and give ourselves an opportunity to tell the Washington Trust story and provide solutions.

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [53]

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Yes, and Laurie, this is Mark. As you look at the long run for the next couple of years, as we shift from the peak of an economic cycle perhaps to a slower economy and to a more challenging financial market environment, those revenue sources that are market-sensitive, wealth management, mortgage banking, can be affected adversely by movement -- or positively by movement of markets. And growth in balance sheet footings can certainly help offset that. It was a very strong year in 2018 for both loan growth and deposit growth. And the company's capital ratios are strong enough to continue supporting that kind of growth. So as long as we can deploy our resources effectively to grow funding sources and balance sheet footing, and we have the capital to do it and the credit quality and discipline to be able to continue to deliver strong results, that's a helpful trajectory, we think, in terms of sustainability of earnings over the next couple of years. So it's -- that's how we think of it in the big picture.

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Laurie Katherine Havener Hunsicker, Compass Point Research & Trading, LLC, Research Division - MD & Research Analyst [54]

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Great. Thanks, that's helpful. One last question. Obviously, your North Providence, Rhode Island branch opened. On the last call, you said following that, you had no more de novos in the works. And I just wanted to get a refresh on that, were there any de novos in the drawing board for this year? Or how are you thinking about that?

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Mark K. W. Gim, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - President & COO [55]

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So we have no specific de novo sites identified. We do think that a measured pace of expansion in our market area will continue to garner results. One of the ways that you can diversify deposit mix beyond just promotional CDs is opening branches that have a better reach to give full access to business DDA, personal DDA, savings accounts and so on and so forth. So the economics of the branches have changed for us over time, but we'll work for those opportunities and we recognize that, that's a sustainable way to grow deposits over a long period of time. And I think Ron, if we looked at the last 7 or 8 we've opened, they're close to $300 million in total deposits. So it's a very meaningful long-term investment in growth.

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Operator [56]

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This concludes our question-and-answer session. I would like to turn the conference over to Ned Handy for any closing remarks.

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Edward O. Handy, Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. - Chairman & CEO [57]

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So thank you all for your time and interest. We really do appreciate it. And we're going to get back to work now. And -- as you would expect. And we look forward to talking to you and seeing you all in the near term. So thanks very much. Have a great day.

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Operator [58]

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