New bank to give 10% of profits to charity

Published: March 5, 2006 | 3681st good news item since 2003

Pacific Rim Bank, the first commercial bank to open in Hawaii since statehood, plans to pursue a broad client base, give 10 percent of its profits to nonprofit organizations and rely on an ATM network for most customer transactions.

The bank, which officially opened yesterday in Restaurant Row after a Hawaiian blessing, should be profitable in its second year, said Austin Imamura, the bank’s chairman and chief executive.

“There’s a financial component, but there’s also a cultural component, and it was the lure of starting something on your own and also establishing a culture that I believe in,” said Imamura in explaining why he started the bank.

Imamura, a former Central Pacific Bank executive and City Bank consultant, said there was a time when few Hawaii banks would lend money to churches and nonprofits. Although such lending is more prevalent now, he wanted to expand that philosophy.

“All of our board members are unanimous in our culture, which is to give significantly to nonprofits,” he said. “We’ve set aside 10 percent of our profits for that in both direct giving, as well as special programs we’re planning to establish.”

Imamura also said the bank will offer one of the highest passbook savings account interest rates in Hawaii, a 3.04 annual percentage yield.

Mark Southwick, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Pacific Rim, said Pacific Rim won’t charge its customers a fee for using other banks’ ATMs, but customers could be assessed fees by the other banks. Non-customer ATM fees at First Hawaiian Bank and Bank of Hawaii, for example, range from $1.75 to $2.50 depending on location, spokesmen for those banks said yesterday.

Imamura said Pacific Rim is still discussing whether to absorb other banks’ ATM fees for a limited number of transactions if the customer holds a certain balance in a check or savings account.

Pacific Rim, which will be linked with the Pulse and Plus networks, plans to install one ATM at its 7,683-square-foot location in Restaurant Row that will be available in mid-April. ATM cards will be issued later this month.

Customers will be able to use Bank of Hawaii’s ATMs, which are on the Plus network, but the availability of First Hawaiian’s ATMs depends on that bank’s network arrangement.

Southwick also said Pacific Rim customers will be able to apply for Visa debit cards.

Alan Pflueger, president of Pflueger Auto dealerships and a major investor in the new bank, said Imamura’s leadership and planning will enable Pacific Rim to be successful.

“I think it will start through relationships, and there’s a lot of senior management people who have left other organizations and are working here now who bring with them many years of relationships of working in Hawaii,” Pflueger said. “Hawaii is about people, and people form a strong bond in working with close relationships in Hawaii. I think that’s going to be a cornerstone to really hitting the ground running.”

Kelvin Bloom, who is president of Aston Hotels & Resorts and helped contribute part of the $12 million that was raised by the bank’s local investors, is excited to be a part of the new venture.

“I think it fills a niche in the market that is currently underserved and we intend to serve that niche very well,” he said.

Imamura said individuals, small businesses and the commercial real estate sector would be the normal focus for a small bank but that Pacific Rim has staff members who are more accustomed to being with larger banks and working with larger clientele.

“So we’re going to be targeting small, middle-size, as well as large (businesses), but we have certain approaches to approaching large (businesses) and that is to ask for a part of their business, not the entire thing,” Imamura said. “That establishes a relationship with them for future growth of the bank.”

Pacific Rim, which signed a 10-year lease at Restaurant Row, will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. It becomes the fourth state-chartered bank along with First Hawaiian, Bank of Hawaii and Central Pacific.

Other locally based financial institutions are Finance Factors, American Savings Bank, Territorial Savings Bank and Hawaii National Bank.

Imamura said he had been envisioning opening a bank for eight or nine years and still thinks there’s room for more. Another startup, Ohana Pacific Bank, is awaiting federal and state regulatory approvals and hopes to open in the middle of this year.

Published in Community, Economics
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