Allan R. "All" Landon chairman and chief executive officer of Bank of Hawaii Corp. makes running a bank sound easy.
Landon’s easy confidence familiarity with his industry and the world of finance should mean continued reassurance for shareholders and clients of Bank of Hawaii who can remember the bad old days.
Michael O’Neill Landon’s predecessor was brought in to perform at least a minor miracle when the bank had a shaky reputation to put it politely. And Landon arrived at the bank in April 2000 five-and-a-1/2 years ago four years before O’Neill retired rising through various top positions.
Coming from 28 years at Ernst and Young LLP where he rose to lead audit partner followed by a position as chief financial officer of First American Corp. Landon was in line for the top job at the bank — he worked side by side with O’Neil as the bank’s chief financial officer.
“I’ve been really fortunate ” Landon told the Journal. “Mike and I worked very closely together on the development process of the three-year plan we’re in right now.”
Bank of Hawaii has 74 branches in Hawaii to Guam’s 6 three in American Samoa Saipan’s two branches and Palau’s one. Still as chief executive Landon comes regularly to the other islands from Hawaii to visit a division that brought in $68.11 million in revenue according to the 2004 Guam Business/Deloitte & Touche survey of the Top 50 companies in Micronesia. Though the bank trimmed staff and operations and removed its presence from the Marshall Islands in recent years Micronesia remains firmly and strongly in the picture Landon said.
“We had repositioned ourselves — focusing on American Samoa Guam Hawaii Saipan and Palau.”
Landon does not discount extension of the bank’s presence in Micronesia. “We continue to look at that but we are pretty pleased with our locations. We have taken the opportunity to upgrade most of our facilities.”
Ronald H. Leach is executive vice president for the Pacific islands international banking and commercial insurance. Though now based in Hawaii Leach spends much of his time in the region.
The bank has a new branch in Harmon on Guam — albeit because of damage that branch suffered when Supertyphoon Pongsona hit the island on Dec. 8 2002. In the Northern Mariana Islands where Stephen Brock is country manager the bank moved one branch in August to a new location in Chalan Kanoa in Saipan. In Palau where Hobbs M. Lowson is country manager the bank opened a new Koror branch. David A. Buehler — familiar to readers from his time in Guam as corporoate banking manager — oversees three branches in American Samoa as senior vice president and district manager. “Two of them are new. Our main branch is two years old and one of the most attractive ” Landon said of the bank’s three American Samoan branches in Utulei Tafuna Pava’ia’i.
Landon sees similarities in the economies of Guam and Hawaii and said “The same factors are prime movers of the economy. With the military there’s lot’s of speculation … construction is very good in Hawaii … we’ve seen significant improvement in residential values. Demand is driving it our supply is limited.” Besides the boom in the property market Landon says Hawaii has been modernizing its municipal resources.
“Fortunately the economy has continued to get strong across the U.S. ” Landon said. As to the effect of such factors as the rising cost of fuel Landon said “So far the impact has been pretty modest given our distance from the U.S. We have enough resources but eventually that will have its effect on the economy and put upward pressure on it.”
He said certain groups were impacted sooner than others. “Lower incomes are affected and there has been an impact on our employees.”
Otherwise economically although federal interest rates have moved up “Rising slightly but not too much ” Landon said the effect on time deposits was beneficial. “Those rates seem to be going up.” He is happy with the bank’s spread of portfolios. “We are making sure we keep our credit quality high.” In addition he said “Share value has held up reasonably well for banks in general.” On July 25 Bank of Hawaii Corp. reported diluted earnings per share of 87¢ for the second quarter of 2005 an increase from 79¢ in the second quarter of 2004.
Landon leads a team of seven vice chairs that report to him together they comprise the bank’s managing committee. Besides that institutional solidity Landon said “Some senior people have been with us for a long time. We have been fortunate to add a few people for a nice balance.” He said that training and resources are strengths of the bank and at entry level there is an emphasis on ensuring employees “acquire banking skills.” There is he said a commitment to client service among the group’s approximately 2 700 employees. “The most important aspect is customer service. That strengthens the relationship.”
Traditional contact remains important in the banking world Landon said. “For most customers relationships are the most important element although there are a growing number of customers that place a value on technology.”
Bank of Hawaii has embraced new technology as it comes along including Internet banking. “We’re doing more with those applications — the balance with that is privacy and security.”
First Hawaiian Bank continues strong in the market No. 1 to Bank of Hawaii’s No. 2. Bank of Hawaii reported net income of $46.4 million for the second quarter of 2005 up $2.2 million from the same quarter last year. It’s a comparison Landon is used to hearing. “People tend to rank banks by size. We are a little bit smaller … but we are within a couple of million dollars of each other.” He recognized the strength of the industry generally. “We’ve got strong competitors throughout the market place.”
Community service and corporate citizenship where Bank of Hawaii does business is something Landon not only sets aside time for but regards as “an important part of the bank’s mission.” He and his wife get involved personally and donation of time and community service occurs at all levels of the bank.
Reportedly an accomplished and dedicated runner Landon said he is an occasional skier. While he shared he has run less lately Landon said he has pretty much maintained the same weight (which he knows to the pound). “I was out running this morning and I still do run a bit. Once in a while I play a bit of golf.”
Landon spoke with the Journal by phone from California days before his pending visit to Guam on Oct. 4. He was to be accompanied by Alton T. Kuioka vice chairman of the Commercial Banking Group. “It’s a regular visit. I’m looking forward to seeing our employees and meeting with some of our clients.” This time and rather like the man himself the message will apparently be engaging and straightforward. “We’re pretty optimistic at Bank of Hawaii.” MBJ