First Republic Bank plans first Florida branch in Palm Beach – South Florida Business Journal – The Business Journals


First Republic Bank, a San Francisco-based institution that’s more than twice the size of South Florida’s largest bank, is making its Florida debut with an office in Palm Beach.
The nearly $30 billion-asset bank (NYSE: FRC) is well-known for serving wealthy clients. It refinanced a $5.95 million home loan for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at an adjustable rate starting at 1.05 percent. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, chairman and CEO of the Related Cos., recently appeared in a client testimonial praising First Republic Bank.
The size of the new office suggests the bank looking to pursue elite clients in Palm Beach, as well.
Palm Beach County court records show that First Republic Bank signed a lease in April for FJK-Tee Jay LLC’s 12,700-square-foot office building at 241 Royal Palm Way. Citibank vacated that particular office building in late 2011 in favor of another spot on Royal Palm Way. The street is known as “banker’s row” because it is lined with private wealth management banks.
First Republic Bank spokesman Greg Berardi declined comment.
CBRE VP Anthony Librizzi, a Palm Beach County office specialist who represented the building owner in the deal, said First Republic Bank signed a long-term lease and plans to open the branch in October.
Miami-based bank analyst and economist Kenneth H. Thomas said First Republic Bank is primarily a jumbo mortgage lender, with few commercial real estate loans and little lending to people who are not upper income. It specializes in wealth management and has offices in many wealth centers, including Beverly Hills and La Jolla, Calif.; Greenwich, Conn.; Boston and New York.
“This isn’t a NASCAR bank. It’s a polo club and tennis tournament bank,” Thomas said. “If you looked at their customer list, you would probably see a lot of big names.”
Thomas said a 12,700-square-foot office suggests that First Republic Bank would staff it with 20 to 25 people. Given the payroll and its lease of about $55 a square foot – the asking price advertised for the building – Thomas said the branch would need at least $100 million in deposits to be profitable. That’s not a big stretch, given that the Palm Beach ZIP code has $1.9 billion in deposits in just 17 branches, he noted.
Thomas said First Republic Bank would probably look to swipe talent from other wealth management banks in the area.
“My only concern is that they come here with a plan [only to serve the top 1 percent], rather than all Floridians,” Thomas said.
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