Umpqua Holdings thinks of itself not so much as a bank but as a retailer that sells financial products. Consequently, many of the company's 195-plus Umpqua Bank "stores" in northern California, northern Nevada, Oregon, and Washington feature coffee bars and computer cafes. While customers sip Umpqua-branded coffee, pay bills online, attend a financial seminar, catch a poetry reading, or check out wares from local merchants, staff members pitch deposit accounts, mortgages, loans, life insurance, investments, and more. Subsidiary Umpqua Investments (formerly Strand, Atkinson, Williams & York) provides retail brokerage services through more than a dozen locations; most are inside Umpqua Bank branches.
Umpqua Bank differentiates itself by encouraging clients to come into its stores instead of using impersonal interfaces like ATMs and electronic banking, more cost-effective methods preferred by many of its competitors. In 2010 it introduced its "Next Generation" stores, which feature interactive touch-screen walls, fresh fruit, and cold drinks. It hopes the touchy-feely environment will inspire customers to make impulse purchases like home equity loans or investments.
Umpqua Bank has been expanding beyond its traditional market along the Interstate 5 corridor from Seattle to Sacramento. In 2010 the company entered northern Nevada when it acquired the failed Nevada Security Bank in an FDIC-facilitated transaction. In similar deals, it previously acquired three failed banks in Washington State in 2009 and 2010. Umpqua Bank assumed two branches and other assets of the failed Bank of Clark County in Vancouver, Washington, and acquired the failed Seattle-based EvergreenBank and Rainier Pacific Bank in Tacoma. All of the transactions included loss-sharing agreements with the FDIC.
In a more traditional acquisition, Umpqua in 2012 announced it would purchase Circle Bancorp for nearly $25 million to expand its presence in the San Francisco Bay area. The agreement came after Umpqua was outbid by PacWest Bancorp in an attempt to acquire American Perspective Bank. That deal would have expanded Umpqua's footprint in the central coast region of California.
Mainly consumer focused, Umpqua Bank established a business banking division in 2011 to court small and mid-sized business clients. It is pursuing deposit growth, assembling new lending teams, and adding new stores in key metropolitan areas like Portland, Oregon; Seattle; San Francisco; and California's Silicon Valley. It continues to look for other acquisition opportunities as well, including those beyond its usual stomping grounds.
Umpqua Holdings has also focused on expanding its private banking operations, targeting customers with more than $1 million to invest. The company established a wealth management division in 2009 and launched a trust services group the following year. It provides asset management services through an agreement with independent firm Ferguson Wellman Capital Management.
Despite all its efforts to be unique, Umpqua Holdings was like many other banks during the recession when it reported a loss in 2009, mainly due to increased provisions for loan losses related to the downturn in the housing market. The company returned to profitability the following year, buoyed by higher interest margins, loan growth, and lower loan losses. It maintained the momentum in 2011 as the economy continued to exhibit signs of life. – less