KeyCorp's Management Presents at Barclays Global Financial Services Conference (Transcript)

| About: KeyCorp (KEY)

KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY)

Barclays Global Financial Services Conference Call

September 9, 2013 12:00 pm ET


Donald R. Kimble – Chief Financial Officer

Clark H. I. Khayat – Head-Corporate Strategy


Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

Moving right along, I am very pleased to have KeyCorp up next. While KeyCorp has been a consistent presenter at this conference, there is a couple of some familiar faces maybe in new roles at the podium.

Presenting for KeyCorp is Don Kimble, relatively new CFO. You guys probably remember him from each of last nine years as CFO at Huntington, but earlier this year decided to take the 150 or so mile drive up north and switch over to KeyCorp. Also present is Vern Patterson from Investor Relations. I mentioned earlier that [indiscernible] was kind of in the business as long as I have in this current role, I puts in that category as well and also we have Clark Khayat from Corporate Strategy.

And with that let me just turn over to Don.

Donald R. Kimble

Great and thanks Jason and thank you all for being here, it’s great to be back at conference again this year. As Jason said, also at the podium here is Clark Khayat, who heads up our Corporate Strategy and Vern Patterson. I am not sure if that was a compliment yet now Vern as far been a long senior IR person that I certainly enjoyed, Clark and Vern ever since I had been here. So our forward-looking disclosure statement can be found on Slide 2. This covers my presentation as well as the Q&A that follows.

I will move on to Slide 3; having been to my role key for all of the three months, again a much better appreciation for the amount of change that have taken place with the new organization under Beth’s leadership. And with the opportunities still ripe way ahead of us. Let me make a few observations.

First, Key has made significant progress over the past few years by consistently executing on its strategy, improving efficiency, derisking the balance sheet and remaining disciplined as for as managing our capital. These are actions that differentiate Key in the market place and have enabled the company to grow.

One of the drivers has been a consistent focus on our target plan segments in both our community and corporate banks, with a clear emphasis on acquiring new clients and expanding relationships. Specifically, the corporate bank has added over 700 new clients and expanded more than 400 relationships over the past year, which has resulted in both loan balances and also fee-based business. Key has also made investments in the geographic footprint, our payment product offerings and human capital. The branch in critical acquisitions has performed at or above our expectations and the company has been able to attract some top talent because of our unique platform.

Key’s most recent investment acquiring Commercial Mortgage Servicing was also continued to leverage our strong commercial real estate platform and provide stable low cost funding for us as well. Efficiency has also improved and by growing revenues and reducing and verbalizing our expenses and I’ll comment more on this later in the presentation. Additionally, a lot of work has been done to improve the overall risk profile. You can see the evidence of that with the decline in our net charge off ratio which is now below our long-term targeted range of 40 to 60 basis points.

Finally, peer-leading capital position remains a competitive advantage for us over time. And this position of strength has been maintained while coming through the way of CCAR process with one of the highest payout ratios among peers. We have been and will continue to be disciplined in the way that we deploy, invest and returning that capital over time.

Now, turning to Slide 4, although relationship banking has been over used today from all of our competitors. It has been a cornerstone on which this Company has been built.

Well, we are in pursuing indirect businesses or buying deals that supplement loan growth, Key is committed to building and growing target relationships. Our Community and Corporate Banks are aligned with one another and our strategy and value proposition are centered on three pillars.

First, we gain insight by understanding our clients. We do this by having a local presence and a full picture of client needs through insights and industry expertise. Next, we use this insight to deliver client-specific products and services, which address those needs in differentiated ways. And finally, we deliver these products and services to our clients when, where, and how they choose.

For consumer and small business clients, this may include using the online or mobile capabilities. For our commercial clients, this could be having a local relationship and also access to dedicated product specialists. This alignment of our businesses and intersection with these three pillars makes us distinctive and provides the basis for how we go-to-market, which brings us to the next slide, maybe not, we are trying to advance the slide.

Here we go, I apologize. On Slide 5, you can see how our commercial clients have access to a broad product set, which is delivered locally and ranges from traditional bank products to capital market capabilities. Our focus is targeted against specific industry verticals where we had deep knowledge and expertise.

While we have targeted clients across a broad spectrum the alignment and intersection of our Community and Corporate Banks uniquely position us to serve the middle market clients with a full relationship offering. Specifically, for Community Bank clients our alignment provides access to industry expertise in capital markets capabilities they are not available [indiscernible] and elsewhere. And our Corporate Bank clients benefit from our local presence and local relationships.

On Slide 6, we showed targets for success to Key has established. As you can see we have achieved our financial targets in areas such as credit quality and revenue diversity. In other areas such as operating leverage and financial returns we have made clear progress, but we have yet to complete our target ranges. On the next several slides, I’ll comment on each area focused and the key drivers that we will used to measure success.

The first is on Slide 7. Having an efficient balance sheet, which includes being a core funded institution. One of these key measures we use is our loan to deposit ratio, which was at 84% as of the end of the second quarter of this year. Although we are far stronger position today than we were five years ago when the ratio was above 120%, we are now operating below our target range of 90% to 100% and our balance is not as efficient as we like it to be.

While we had good loan growth over the past few years we have also seen meaningful growth in our deposits especially from our corporate clients, who have continued to build our liquidity position. Growth and average loans have been driven by a positive momentum in our CF&A balance, which were up 14% in the second quarter compared to a year ago period. We’ve also benefited from improving our funding mix with our transaction deposits up 13% from the prior year and the cost of deposits overall declining 21 basis points over the same period.

Looking ahead we continue to expect that loan growth will exceed deposit growth in the second half of the year, and that this will bring our loan to deposit ratio closer to our targeted range.

Now I’m turning to Slide 8, which covers our risk profile. This is an area where a lot of work has been done to reduce the risks and establish processes, but we are off to identify, measure and monitor risk across the entire Company.

As I mentioned earlier, our credit metrics have dramatically improved over the past few years with net charge offs and provision to average loans each coming in below our targeted range in the second quarter of this year.

Our portfolio has continued to perform well as gross charge offs have declined and recoveries have remained strong. We anticipate the net charge offs will remain at or below the lower end of our long-term product range for the balance of the current year and for provision expense to be in line with the same level of net charge offs.

Critical to our success is growing a high quality and diverse revenue stream. Slide 9 highlights our net interest income. While our net interest income has generally improved or held relatively stable over the last several years, our net interest margin continues to be pressed or pressured by lower interest rates in the overall competitive environment.

Additionally, in the second quarter, we saw a higher than expected levels of liquidity which was the result of a softer than expected loan growth and higher levels of deposits. While Key along with other asset sensitive banks generally benefit from a rise in both short and long-term interest rates, the durations and characteristics of Key’s portfolios position us to realize more benefit from a rise of the shoulder end of the yield.

Importantly these interest rate swaps provides flexibility in managing and adjusting the overall rate risk position. In the second quarter, $4.4 billion of interest rate swaps were terminated or not replaced as we continue to modestly increase our overall asset sensitivity.

At the end of June, we had approximately $11 billion in interest rate swaps remaining on the balance sheet, good news for asset liability management purposes with an average life of 2.3 years. Recognizing that asset yields remain under pressure and given our high levels of liquidity, we expect net interest margins to experience modest pressure in the range of 1 basis point to 3 basis points per quarter in the second half of this year.

Turning on to Slide 10, Key to raise over 40% of our total revenues from fee-based businesses. Our focus on expanding and growing client relationships has led deposit trends in a number of our fee-based business, including our investment banking and our debt placement fees which continue to grow and are up 46% on a rolling four quarter average basis. Our broad products and industry expertise and target approach allow us to do more for our clients, winning more business and taking share in the market as evidenced by commercial loan growth and certain fee income categories.

Moving on to Slide 11, driving positive operating leverage is critical element for us to achieve our financial goals. In the second quarter of last year, we committed to reducing expenses by $150 to $200 and bring our efficiency ratio to a targeted range of 60% to 65% by the first quarter of 2014. Earlier this year, we redefined our expense savings targets to the upper end of the range or $200 million. At the end of the second quarter, we had cash of $171 million of annualized cost savings which is 86% of our total target.

Important actions in the second quarter included closing 73 branches as part of our broader branch rationalization plans, we originally set out to consolidate 5% of our franchise by the end of the year and now believe the number is closer to 7% as we realize additional opportunities. During the quarter, we also realigned our community bank structure and organization. This allows us to strengthen our client focus and become more efficient and improve productivity. We are committed to achieving the targets that we’ve laid out and we’re making good progress in identifying the next set of opportunities to improve the efficiency even further.

Now turning on to Slide 12, one of our foundational elements is our commitment to being client focused and relationship based. This requires that we constantly assess our businesses through a competitive position and the overall performance and evaluate ways to make them better.

In some cases like payments, online and mobile, we are making investments to ensure that we can fulfill client needs with competitive profits in the channels that they’d want to use. We also are looking for new ways to serve our existing clients and define new clients which is evidenced by the acquisitions last year of our key branding credit card portfolio in branches in Western New York.

And as we look for other opportunities, both organic and inorganic, we have the same discipline approach to evaluate whether it fix our business strategy, create shareholder value and is consistent with our stated capital priorities.

Sometimes, evaluating our portfolio businesses means, it’s time to exit as we did with our Victory Capital Management, which given the nature of the business could not have a strong connection to Key’s relationship strategy.

Finally, some of our businesses present clear opportunities to further leverage our existing infrastructure. For example, we built our commercial mortgage banking platform by acquiring a servicing portfolio from Bank of America and leveraging our partnership with Berkadia. These moves allow us to take advantage of and grow our existing platform.

Moving on to Slide 13, we also remained very disciplined in managing our peer-leading capital position. Consistent with our state of priorities to support organic growth, maintaining growth dividends, we purchase shares and grow opportunistically.

During the second quarter, we increased our dividend by 10% and completed $112 million of common share repurchases under our 2013 capital plan. We’ve also been authorized by our Board consistent with our CCAR submission to repurchase up to an additional $314 million of shares through the first quarter of 2014. We’ve also received non-objection from the Federal Reserve to use a cash portion of the gained from the sale of Victory Capital Management for common share repurchases. Key’s board will consider this additional share repurchase at its regularly scheduled meeting coming up later this month.

Now close on Slide 14. Again Key has made a lot of progress under Beth’s leadership and with the commitment of the entire management team, but there is still a lot more that we can do to grow and improve returns.

In the Corporate Bank, we believe that we can take share and expand relationships by leveraging our distinctive capabilities especially with middle market clients and those in our targeted industry verticals.

In the Community Bank, our returns continue to reflect the impact of the low rate environment, regulatory reform, and the overall weak economy. However, we have taken a number of steps not only to reduce our cost structure, but to enhance our ability to deliver the Bank’s best resources and insights to our clients.

We also recognize the importance of continuing to invest for the future. We are being very diligent with the investments we are making in our franchise in order to garner the best returns and balance both near-term and long-term considerations. Efficiency improvements will continue to be an area of focus for us. We are committed to reaching our near-term targets and we are identifying the next set of opportunity that we expect will drive continued efficiency improvements in 2014 and beyond.

Maintaining a moderate risk profile is at the center of our business. By staying with in our risk appetite and executing a disciplined risk management process we can be assured that our growth is aligned with the interest of all stakeholders. And finally, we are committed to being strong stewards of our capital. We recognize our capital position as a competitive advantage for us over time and are dedicating to returning, deploying and investing the capital in ways that will maximize the long-term shareholder return.

With that I’d like to close and turn it over to Jason for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

Superb. Before we open up the lines for questions, we could have the ARS questions please. First, we do want to know shares of Key underway of stock, which the following will most likely change your mind a) better showing always get to his ROE targets on the upper end. Two, no need to reach or we better than as efficient ratio target. Three, more capital redeployment given the strong position; four, better loan growth; five, more stable the high net interest margin, and six more carryon acquisitions.

And the winner is I guess one, first off more ROE objectives and then followed not far behind by loan growth. I guess Don you’ve touched on it, but maybe talk to – you are kind of at the lower end from which at the low end of your ROE target, you kind of talked to how the provisions always showed obviously below normalized. Obviously, outside of the net interest margin and interest rate outlook changing, what else you really do think you really need to do to drive that ROE, I think your higher normalized basis?

Donald R. Kimble

It clearly is an issue for us. We are focused on driving stronger returns in addition to the margin, which you’d mentioned which will benefit as rates do start to come up. The other things that I believe we’ll hope drive that is, we are very focused on leveraging the products and services that we have and making sure that we can get more productivity of our existing resources, and so by getting a deeper share of wallet that will help allow us to enhance the overall ROA.

We’ve also talked about our efficiency we had in place that just achieving that initial target, the $200 million in savings, and then continuing to have that as part of the culture going forward and a focus on more of a continuous improvement effort will help drive continued improvement there in our efficiency ratio and that will help drive down additional opportunities as far as the ROA going forward.

Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

And I guess, just given the second place response, and you’ve talked about the 1 to 3 basis point net interest margin compression, 3Q and 4Q which is, what you said on the second quarter earnings call. Can you talk about the outlook for loan growth in the back half of the year and maybe the ability to keep your fixed income it maybe stable perhaps in the face of the margins point as possible?

Donald R. Kimble

As far as the loan growth in the second half of the year, what we provided in our guidance at the end of the second quarter was essentially that we would be seeing loan growth in the mid single digits year-over-year, and we had not changed that guidance, and so we are still seeing challenges in the marketplace as far as our commercial customers are a little bit more conservative and they are less likely to pull the trigger as far as taking on that additional expansion or the additional capital needs that we might be able to support, but even with that we are still reiterating our expectation that loan growth should be in the mid single digit range year-over-year.

Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

Next question.

Unidentified Analyst

In your view, is the sale Of Victory Capital Management was positive true or false, one true because it didn’t fit with Key’s core banking strategy. Two, true given the associated gains and share repurchase is a positive. Three false, given uncertainty as to why and actually give that revenue stream in the current environment. And four false, given it diversified as product mix, revenue base.

Interesting. Kind of I would say a mixed response. I think Donald is the one who made the decision, but I’m sure he asked the question when he got there. I talked to – I think some view asset management as high return, local capital intensive, nice fee income business. Can you talk about the strategic rationale for wanting not to be in that business?

Donald R. Kimble

Great. Well I’ll offer a few comments and I’ll ask Clark to chime in. So he’s a little bit more involved in that process than I have. But as far as the decision to sell, it clearly is focused on our strategy which is more relationship based and looking to make sure that we can’t expand relationships with our existing customers and get deeper share of word with them.

The Victory area was more of consultant led decision process and it wasn’t a way for us to leverage the overall relationship as much as what we would like with other product and services which we have been investing whether its payments or other fee based services we think are critical to our long-term success. So that way with the decision process that we went through and we think it’s appropriate and believe it a better position as going forward as far as alignment of the businesses around that relationship strategy approach. Clark?

Clark H. I. Khayat

I think Don hit that right on the head. The only thing I would add is that when you are in a business, to keep it competitive you have to be investing all the time and if your marginal investment question is whether I put it here or in a relationship based strategy which is what we are focused on it’s hard to make the decision to continue to support the business when it doesn’t fit the overall strategy, and again if you’re not going to invest in the business then you sort of managing it in a stable state and at that point you get to the point where somebody else is probably a better owner for that asset.

Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

Next question?

Unidentified Analyst

In terms of this footprint you like to see Key; one, maintain it’s huge efforts both for reducing scope and reduce it’s branch; two, maintain geography and add branches; three, increase it’s geographies; and four, we concentrate it’s geographies.

Interesting, so – which are half of the people talking about concentrating geographically more branch divestitures, so, I guess now you’re talking about accelerating the branch closures from 5% this year to 7% which is a step up. I guess any thoughts in terms of taking that maybe to the next level and maybe exiting more to geographic markets obviously the branch network structures remain to a landscape which is probably one of the broadest branch distribution networks in the country for bank of your size, any thoughts I mean, exiting, Key is exiting the northwest and I mean, that’s a bit more extreme. But just talked about maybe exiting certain states as opposed to just kind of trim around the edges?

Donald R. Kimble

Great, but one as far as the taking out 5% to 7% of our branches, we think that any good retailers continue to reassess the overall branch of our store distribution and that’s part of the reasons why we really start picking that up this past year. What we think is important to our customers is convenience, and we understand that some of our geographies don’t have the greatest concentration and then we recognize that. But we are also making investments right now, more digital delivery channel, and we’re trying to supplement that convenience trajectory through that channel, and that’s really the approach we’ve been taken and believe that we can achieve that convenience that way for the customer to supplement our existing retail branch distribution.

As far as whether now we are taking a look at states to excel or add that we’re always again looking at our distribution, making sure that we’re trying to leverage that in an appropriate way, and seeing what makes the most sense for us to-date more of the focus has been around convenience, and can we achieve that with a digital delivery. Clark, anything else?

Clark H. I. Khayat

The only other thing I’d add is that the focusing on the branches in the retail business without considering the impact on our commercial businesses particularly business banking, middle market, the lower end commercial client who frankly uses the branch consistently, puts that risk if you close too many branches, a larger part of the community bank franchise, which is critically important to our business. So it’s not just a retail question, when you begin to think about the network.

Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

And the final ARS question? From 2014, should Key meaningfully increases CapEx in shareholders, assets both dividend buybacks. Two dividends, three more buybacks, four no, rather focus more aggressively on organic growth, and five no, hold up for acquisitions.

One, both dividend and buyback, followed by organic growth, which is interesting. I guess Don you showed the slide of capital ratios and few certainly tops, it’s few of your peer group. I want – people would shy to be talking to peer group on various metrics, I not sure I guess any of you talk in terms of capital just given how much the franchises derisk it up over last several years. As we talked about in terms of where we kind of think capital should be and how you can – does Key add much capital and just how you think about on the whole capital redeployment process?

Donald R. Kimble

Great. As we’ve stated before, our Tier 1 comment was 11.15% as of the end of the second quarter. If you deploy, that was about three rules, it’s 10.7%. And at those levels, we clearly are a leader in our pack and we do believe that we have too much capital at that level. The challenge we have is what we know that regulators have been incrementally more lenient in the last couple of CCAR processes. I am not sure how much more lenient we will see, but that’s one thing that we will evaluate.

We haven’t stated where our longer term top CapEx target levers would be that we have just recently gotten one more leg of the store with the new balls of three rules, but what I feel is based on the stress test results, and we want to better understand if how that is moving, what the implications are from that prospectively and believe that we will have a little bit more clarity as of the end of this year and the end of this year’s process to probably be a little more definitive in what our capital targets would be.

So at that 10.7% Tier 1 common Basel III is well in excess of 7% required levels. We don’t expect to have a strong filthy [ph] buffer attached to us given where we are and where our asset rankings, but with the component that we really have to associate is just what can we do from a stress test perspective, and based on that what is the implication to our overall capital level.

Keep in mind, one more thing – two that as we noted earlier that the Key was leader among regional peers as far as the ability to return that capital, and our common dividend and share repurchase permitted under the law CCAR classes was about 80% of – have been in consensus estimates for us and that was strongest of the regional banks, and we believe that is a reflection of all the balance sheet we have, but also the recognition from the regulators as well to our capital ratio are very strong.

Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

Okay. With that I want to go to the audience for Q&A about 10 minutes remaining?

Unidentified Analyst

Could you give more granular in your thoughts about loan growth going forward breaking it up by the various segments, thank you?

Donald R. Kimble

We haven’t provided a lot more granularity as far as our loan growth going forward, but we have said that we expect for 2014 that it will be up mid single digits year-over-year, most of that growth was coming from our CF&A, our commercial, financial and agricultural loans, and so it’s not being driven by commercial real estate per say, and consumer lending is a small percentage of our overall portfolio, and we haven’t provided a lot of specificity as far as the growth there, but it would not drive the portfolio nearly as much as the CF&A growth would be.

Unidentified Analyst


Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

While you’re looking, we have to make the next question, then Pete who go after me.

Don, maybe talk about interesting role, but maybe talk about in terms of competitive comparison strats kind of what you seen the Key versus kind of what you saw on Huntington [ph], maybe what Key could be doing better on based on our prior experiences on– maybe other areas where they haven’t been?

Donald R. Kimble

Well, I’m not sure how much I’ll comment on my previous employer, but I’ll comment on some of the differences in general. And I would say at Key that we have a very unique product set that really is playing to the best interest of our commercial customers. If you look at the traditional banking products that we can offer on top of the capital markets products that we provide to our customers especially in those six industry verticals it’s unique to anybody else in the industry. And so I think that is a proposition that we have been winning with and can continue to leverage going forward.

And to the previous company was probably a little further ahead as far as retail. I think that the retail distribution of the pervious company was more concentrated in the Midwest. So whereas maybe a little easier to establish and develop a brand there than what we have in front of us. And it go for as within Key to seek other ways to really establish the convenience and brand advantage from a retail perspective compared what I had see and experienced in previous location.

Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

Pete, Don thanks. My question has to do with your M&A criteria kind of the thought process you go through. You got some people try to place matchmaker up in the pacific northwest. And what kind of criteria would you look at? You mentioned you are stewards of capital on your slide decks. So I’m just trying to understand what kind of hit you would take the tangible to capital et cetera to effect something or is it more of a slow and steady kind of process where we look at business lines along the way kind of what you’ve done to-date so far. Thank you.

Donald R. Kimble

Clearly, as you stated, we are intended to be strong stewards of our [indiscernible] acquisition. We don’t believe that we are holding capital out there for opportunistic acquisitions. We don’t have words just established to make sure that we have dollars out there to do this in the next M&A transaction.

Our first priority continues to be focusing on growing organic growth that are organically throughout the company and that will continue to be our top priority that we have shown that we have done a few acquisitions, fairly small as far as the acquisitions, but still very complementary and the biggest consistent message throughout there was that each one of those transactions were consistent with our overall strategy, good healthy perpetuate that relationship strategy in approach to doing business and did complement our existing distribution and our product offering.

At the same time, they also provide a very strong returns for us and that’s something that we want to make sure that as we’d look for other opportunistic acquisitions that they will provide very strong returns and be still viewed very positive for our existing shareholders and not just done to leverage our excess capital position that we have today.

It must be lunch time here Jason, so…

Jason M. Goldberg – Barclays Capital, Inc.

I have got a long list, Don. These are maybe – you talked about, I think this five or six kind of long-term financial goals that Key has laid out and kindly talk about your progress in each of them, but as I am not saying outside of the server, but our new big role kind of taking a look at someone else’s targets, is there any of them that maybe don’t feel comfortable ways or you think to be more aggressive or too optimistic on any thoughts around where we could see maybe positive surprises or maybe negative surprises?

Donald R. Kimble

As far as our long-term targets, I think they are appropriate, they were appropriate areas to focus on. I think some of them are much more near term focused and some of them are longer term focus and for instance the efficiency ratio is 50% to 55%, I would focus, we would see interest rates come up and we continue to deploy our activities that we can drive at even below the 60% long-term, but given the near term horizon and the fact I don’t see interest rates increasing at the shorter end of the curve anytime soon, I think that’s a very realistic assumption.

At the same time, our margin assumptions that we have are fairly robust and that would be more predicated on returning to more normalized yield per ROA and hopefully at some point in time when we have a better designed equity target and ROE targets, we will have to review and establish longer term focus targets there as well as things start to stabilize normalized.

Unidentified Analyst

I guess building along Jason’s question about the similarity between Key and your previous employer similarities and differences, can you talk about technology infrastructure and areas where you see – maybe that Key needs to make investments or need to improve?

Donald R. Kimble

I would say as far as investments that we need to make, we’d had a number of investments in different products and capabilities that we have advanced some of the mobile technology much further along that I am probably the least technology savvy user out there, but I was able to first week on the job to actually take a picture of my iPhone, check and deposit into my banking account and actually went through and we are fine. So that was a functionality that the previous company was working on at that time, so I think many regional banks are in the similar stock in that.

We are continuing to invest in other products and services, in many of the payment space that we think to be in an effective long-term player of the financial services in a special [indiscernible] you have to have a much more robust and enhanced payment’s capability and so while we are just launch or internally developed credit card product we were also looking at other both commercial and consumer product payment products that will compliment us and I think that’s something that we’ll continue to see and need to further investment there as well.

Unidentified Analyst

Maybe time for one more question. With that please thank me, join me in thanking Don for his presentation.

Donald R. Kimble

Thank you.

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