Truist Bank is the second-largest retail bank in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area, but small businesses and nonprofits were on the mind of Jim Daly, West Florida regional president, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
The bank made thousands of calls to touch base with small businesses and created tailor-made financial solutions for them so they could thrive in the new environment, Daly said. Truist worked with hundreds of local nonprofits, providing about $700,000 in support to help them get through the crisis, while also taking care of its own employees, providing additional funding for day care, extended leave, flexible hours and remote work.
Daly said the bank’s efforts were part of a continuous commitment to the strength and vibrancy of the community.
“We firmly believe, and it’s fundamentally true, that if our communities stay strong — the families and small businesses and nonprofits that serve the underserved — then as a byproduct our teammates will be able to continue to thrive and enjoy the wonderful lifestyle that we have here in Tampa Bay,” Daly said.
He doesn’t think the work is done yet.
“This will go well into 2021,”Daly said.
Small business outreach
Truist (NYSE: TFC), based in Charlotte, North Carolina, became a powerhouse in the area in December 2019, when SunTrust and BB&T merged. Second only to Bank of America among retail banks, Truist had 114 branch offices and a 13.14 percent deposit market share, with $13.3 billion in deposits in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area, as of June 30, the most recent date for which information is available from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
When the Covid-19 outbreak began, Truist focused on its small business clients, who represent about 80 percent of the total businesses in the market and about 80 percent of employees.
“Unfortunately the pandemic and the economic fallout has hit small businesses harder than mid-size to larger businesses because they don’t typically have the capital and/or the skill or talent level to pivot and adjust,” Daly said.
He described a three-pronged strategy by the bank to help clients.
Outreach: Hundreds of Truist teammates made thousands of calls to small businesses with several purposes in mind. “One, just to hear a caring ear on the end of the line, saying we’re here for you, we know we’ll get through this together. We’ll help you financially, we’ll listen to your issues, we’ll help you devise plans for your business to attack the market in a different way to stay afloat.”
Advice: The company provided advice on technology needs, including cybersecurity strategies and strategic planning.
Lending: Truist directly provided small loans to clients that needed immediate help. Most of those loans were less than $50,000, required little documentation and had a quick turnaround, but played an important role in keeping a business afloat, Daly said.
The bank also was a leader in Paycheck Protection Program loans, a Small Business Administration program. Nationally, Truist made 78,669 loans for more than $13 billion, with an average loans size of $166,215, according to the SBA.
“Company-wide, we saved 2.8 million jobs. I estimate we saved 100,000 jobs locally in Tampa Bay,” Daly said.
Some companies just asked for “breathing room” on loan repayments. They got a 90-day pause on paying principal and interest.
Most of those companies have since resumed loan payments, he said.
Truist pledged $50 million to help underserved communities in its footprint recover from the pandemic in a program called Truist Cares. About $700,000 of that went to local organizations.
“What was impressive about that was not the dollar amount but how we made sure those dollars were connected with organizations that provided value and needed assistance in our areas,” Daly said.
Metropolitan Ministries, which pivoted during the pandemic and used technology to help more families, was one of the larger nonprofits to get funding. Others were Feeding Tampa Bay, the Salvation Army and the area United Ways, along with hundreds of smaller nonprofits.
Funding was available for programs directly related to Covid-19 assistance as well as for general programmatic needs.
“Some of those grants were as small as $10,000 and some of them were as large as several hundred thousand dollars,” Daly said. “We know the organizations … and they were able to efficiently get the funds they needed to step up and help out in the community and that continues today.”
The pandemic has had a tremendous negative impact on a big part of the population, but Daly said he’s cautiously optimistic about the future.
“I am very impressed with the business owners we’ve dealt with and their ability to be successful in the circumstances we are in. So I’m encouraged by that,” he said. “We are also prepared to continue to provide assistance both directly to small businesses and nonprofits. And our team is ready in case it does continue. It’s a safety valve we need to provide. If it continues only for a shorter period for time, that will be OK. If it continues for a longer period of time, which I hope it won’t, at least we’ll be ready to address those needs.”