Money Talk: Beige Book says banking activity accelerating regional economic growth

by Talk Business and Politics ([email protected]) 114 views 

Editor’s note: Each Monday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Money Talk,” a wrap-up of banking and financial news. 

––––––––––––––––

BEIGE BOOK: REGIONAL ECONOMY IMPROVING, HIGHLIGHTED BY ACCELERATED BANKING ACTIVITY
Economic activity in the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District has improved at a modest pace since in recent weeks as the businesses across the region continued to report strengthening wage pressures and difficulties finding qualified workers, according to the Federal Reserve’s recent Beige Book Report.

The monthly report for St. Louis’ Eighth District, which includes Arkansas and portions of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, the eastern half of Missouri and West Tennessee, offers a snapshot of business anecdotal information of key economic activity in different sectors of the sprawling district led by St. Louis Fed chief James Bullard.

This month’s report was highlighted by banking conditions in the District that accelerated in March. Loan growth in all categories is stronger than it was in the previous year. Total loans outstanding at a sample of about 80 small and mid-sized District banks increased 20% in March from the same time last year. Real estate lending increased 20% over the period of reference. Commercial and industrial loans increased 26% over the period, and loans to individuals jumping 40%. To see the full report, click here.

AMERICAN WORKERS CONCERNED ABOUT OVERALL FINANCIAL HEALTH
The latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report shows that compared to 2013, American workers’ stress about their finances has increased, while confidence in their financial futures has decreased. The study points to employers’ continued adoption of programs that promote financial wellness as a potential key to turning these negative trends around.

Eighty-three percent of employees today cite workplace financial benefits as critical to their financial security, while three in five employees feel stressed about their financial futures, up from 50% in 2013. More than half (55%) admit to needing help managing their finances, including saving for retirement and managing debt.

Based on a nationwide survey of more than 1,200 employees with 401(k) plans at companies of all sizes, the report highlights employees’ financial struggles and how employers’ support can help them build greater financial confidence. To see more findings of the Bank of America report, click here.

STEPHENS’ PRIVATE CLIENT GROUP HIRES NEW SVP IN MEMPHIS
Stephens Inc. recently announced the hiring of George Sousoulas as senior vice president and branch manager of the Little Rock investment’s bank’s Private Client Group in Memphis, Tenn. In this role, Sousoulas brings nearly 30 years of expertise in the financial services industry, guiding clients in crafting investment and wealth management strategies.

Prior to joining Stephens, Sousoulas served as senior vice president and branch manager at Wells Fargo Advisors LLC, where he led a team of financial advisors in the Ridgeland, Miss. region to develop customized financial plans. Sousoulas previously held similar roles with Merrill Lynch and Bank of America.