Wintrust Financial is a holding company engaged in personal and commercial banking, wealth management, and specialty lending services primarily in the metropolitan Chicago and Milwaukee areas. With assets of more than $17 billion, it operates about 15 subsidiary banks (most bear the name of the community they serve) with more than 100 branches in all. The banks offer traditional deposit services and emphasize business and commercial real estate lending, which accounts for about half of the company's loan portfolio. Specifically, Wintrust's banks target small business customers. Some of Wintrust's banks also provide niche lending for homeowners associations, medical practices, franchisees, and municipalities.
Wintrust's nonbank subsidiaries include First Insurance Funding, which provides financing for commercial insurance and life insurance premiums. In 2012 Wintrust expanded its premium funding business into Canada with the acquisition of Macquarie Premium Funding Inc, which was a subsidiary of Macquarie Group. The deal marked Wintrust's first international venture.
Other Wintrust subsidiaries include Tricom Funding, which offers financing and administrative services to the temporary staffing industry in the US, and Wintrust Mortgage Corporation (formerly known as WestAmerica Mortgage Company), which deals in the origination and purchase of residential loans for sale. In 2011 Wintrust bought certain mortgage banking assets of Minnesota-based River City and Woodfield Planning Corporation in Chicago.
Wintrust's wealth management arm offers financial planning and brokerage services through a trio of companies bearing the Wayne Hummer name. The company built the business through the 2011 acquisition of institutional asset manager Great Lakes Advisors. The deal significantly increased Wintrust's assets under management to more than $13 billion.
On the banking side, Wintrust has developed its community-based franchise through the formation of nine de novo (or new) banks, new branch openings, and acquisitions. Wintrust has also taken advantage of the rash of bank seizures in the Chicago area. Since 2010, the company has snapped up seven failed institutions in FDIC-assisted transactions, adding some 20 branches. Acquisitions in 2011 included Community First Bank (now Rogers Park Community Bank), Bank of Commerce (now Wood Dale Bank & Trust), and First Chicago Bank & Trust. Also in 2011 Wintrust bought Elgin State Bank in its first non-FDIC-assisted deal in several years. The purchase added three branches in Illinois. Also in a traditional transaction, the company acquired HPK Financial, the parent of Hyde Park Bank & Trust, in late 2012. It will add two branches in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. And in 2013 Wintrust agreed to acquire First Lansing Bancorp, the parent company of First National Bank of Illinois. The deal is expected to close during the second quarter of 2013.
But Wintrust has not been unscathed by the economic crisis either. It has significant exposure to commercial real estate in the hard-hit Chicago area and, in 2008, formed a new division to resolve problem loans, usually through liquidation. The company remained profitable, though its net income was down in 2010 as it dealt with an uptick in nonperforming loans and increased its allowance for loan losses. Wintrust has also formed a division to manage problem loans acquired from the failed banks.
By 2011 the economy and Wintrust's results improved. The company reported a more than 22% increase in net income. Assets, deposits, and loan amounts all increased that year as well. Wintrust's calculated growth strategy has helped it expand by reaching new customers and further deepening its relationship with current ones by offering new services. – less