Now that Customers Bank, which manages $3.5 billion in loans and investments from a handful of branches in Berks, Bucks and Chester Counties, plus outposts near Trenton and New York, has raised $100 million from Fidelity, Wellington and other big investors in a Nasdaq stock offering last week, founder Jay S. Sidhu is preparing to open offices in Philadelphia.
Not in Center City, which Sidhu's former $50 billion bank, Sovereign Bancorp, used to call home (though it was actually run, as is Customers, from Wyomissing, Pa.), before he was forced out in an ill-fated 2006 coup by activist investors that resulted in the company's sale to Spain's Banco Santander at a fraction of its former price .
Instead, "we will be catering to the African American and Hispanic commmunity," through a planned office in Northeast Philadlephia, a smaller business center in West Philadelphia, and a branch at a Germantown-area community center, Sidhu told me.
Catering, how? Sidhu says he's not interested in offering the masses through high-interest subprime mortgage loans, high-fee "secured" credit cards, or the other financial weapons by which American banks have lately separated people of modest means or damaged credit from extra cash.
Instead, he says he's lending to homebuyers with good credit, neighborhood apartment landlords, bodega owners, cleaning service crews, and other small and medium-sized businesses whose owners would rather bank by smartphone than crowd into branch offices. And he's making wholesale loans to apartment investors nationwide through a warehouse lending unit headed by former GE Capitla executive Glen Hedde." We're not putting our costs into brick and mortar, but into people," Sidhu says. "Codistefanonvenience has been redefined. We have all-appointment banking. We'll have offices, but very few. We can operate the company more and more efficiently."