Regions Financial is prepping to grow its employment in Charlotte when it moves into a new office tower under construction uptown, where the regional bank plans to headquarter a trading operation, a top executive said.
Alabama-based Regions will consolidate about 210 Charlotte employees next year to two and a half floors of the 615 South College tower but have space left over for about 40 more people, capital markets head Terry Katon told the Observer during a tour of the unfinished space last week. The new space will grant Regions room for more employment growth in Charlotte, where expansion has been constrained in four buildings the bank is spread across, said Katon, Regions’ highest-ranking local executive.
“We’ve sort of been holding off or just not had the ability to really recruit as much as we’d like,” Katon, 49, said. “We expect to grow a good bit more in Charlotte once we have this space and we can fill it up.”
Some of the growth will come from a trading floor dealing in corporate bonds. The decision to headquarter the corporate bond sales and trading operation in Charlotte in part because of the availability of skilled traders.
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“Our capital markets group is really headquartered in Atlanta,” Katon said. “But the talent pool in Charlotte is just a lot deeper, particularly for areas like capital markets and corporate banking.”
The trading operation will employ about 16 people on part of the tower’s sixth floor, which will also house Regions’ other securities operations, Katon said. Regions has already hired someone to oversee the trading business but is not ready to disclose his name, Katon said, noting the bank plans a formal announcement about the operation in the fourth quarter.
Although Wall Street is better known for its massive trading floors, Regions’ new operation will add to Charlotte trading floors maintained by Bank of America, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, SunTrust Banks and Fifth Third Bancorp.
Last year, Regions Bank became the first tenant signed at 615 South College, where it will occupy 5th and 6th floors, as well as half of the 4th floor of the building adjacent to the Westin hotel. The regional bank, which entered North Carolina in 2001 when it bought Charlotte’s Park Meridian Bank, has expanded business lines serving corporate customers but remains a relatively small consumer player in the city. Only 18 employees in Charlotte work in Regions’ retail operation, he said.
“For us, Charlotte’s an unusual market in that we only have three branches, but on the corporate banking side (we) have about 150 people. There’s no other market at Regions that’s like that, where it’s tilted so much to the corporate bank,” said Katon, a direct report to corporate banking head John Turner, who is based in Birmingham and reports to CEO Grayson Hall.
Regions is aiming to have all employees moved in by the first half of next year, Katon said. It will keep some back-office operations on Providence Road, and the Charlotte investment bank it bought in 2015, BlackArch Partners, will stay in uptown’s Carillon building.
Once employees start moving in, Regions will put its name on the building, adding yet another bank fixture to the city’s skyline.
“Regions is not well-known in Charlotte, Katon said. “That’s really one thing we were looking for is a building that we could put our name on that would have good visibility and let us stand out. Putting our name on a building and having a presence in uptown we think will make a big difference.”