Short history
The Guam Bankers Association officially received its Incorporation Certificate on April 27, 1982, registered as a non-profit corporation. The list of incorporating members (14) was quite impressive, consisting of Allied Banking Corp., Bank of America NT&SA, Bank of Guam, Bank of Hawaii, Bank of the Orient, California First Bank, California Overseas Bank, The Chase Manhattan Bank N.A., Citibank N.A., First Commercial Bank, First Hawaiian Bank, The Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp., Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. and the National Bank of Fort Sam Houston. Except for the National Bank of Fort Sam Houston (which was absorbed and is now the Nations Bank of Texas), all these banks still exist today throughout the world, but only a handful remain in Guam.

In 1988, the number of banks remained the same; however, a few of the players changed. While Bank of America, Chase Manhattan and California First Bank closed operations, Bank of Nauru, Oceanic Bank and Union Bank opened for business. By 1990, the Articles of Incorporation were amended to allow S&Ls (Savings & Loan) to be members (enter First Savings & Loan and Guam Savings & Loan).

During the next 25 years, the landscaped changed dramatically:

  • Guam Savings & Loan became BankPacific;
  • Century Bank purchased California Overseas, which was then acquired by Citizen’s Security Bank, and finally acquired by ANZ Bank;
  • First Savings & Loan, Bank of the Orient, Nations Bank sold their operations; and
  • Asahi Bank aka Sumitomo Bank opened for businesses and then eventually closed its doors.

As technology started to advance and with financial and natural disasters occurring throughout the world, banks sought for more operational efficiencies. Consequently, the number of institutions continued to consolidate on the island, with Citibank the most recent departure in 2014.

Today, there are only six banks remaining on-island:

  • ANZ Bank
  • Bank of Guam
  • Bank of Hawaii
  • BankPacific
  • First Commercial Bank
  • First Hawaiian Bank

Current officers are:

  • President – Edward G. Untalan, First Hawaiian Bank – SVP/Guam and NMI regional manager
  • Vice president – Byron Evaristo, Bank Pacific – SVP/Credit Administration
  • Secretary – Joaquin “Kin” Cook, Bank of Guam – President/CEO
  • Treasurer – Mark Tokito, SVP/Commercial Team Leader

    The primary purpose of the GBA is to:

    Promote the general welfare of banking within the public interests; to promote cooperation and coordination among banking institutions and savings institutions within the territory of Guam; to provide a forum for discussion, study and action on matters common to the interests of banking institutions and savings institutions within the territory of Guam; to give consideration to an expression of opinion on questions affecting the banking, fiduciary, financial, commercial and industrial interests of the territory and the Nation; and to promote and encourage fellowship among its members.

    Over the years, the GBA members collaborated with training courses, commented on legislation, addressed operation and security issues and shared loan and deposit balances to gauge industry and economic growth. While all banks now conduct their own training individually, they continue provide testimony on legislation, share information accordingly and collaborate in emergencies (as seen over the past few months).


    The face of banking has changed
    When Automated Teller Machines were introduced more than 30 years ago, it was a tremendous breakthrough in banking, as one could make deposits and withdrawals without a live body processing the transaction for you. While ATMs are still in use and becoming more sophisticated today, the advancement in technology has now led to faster transaction processing, mobile banking, on-line banking and the declining use of cash replaced by credit/debit cards. This is leading banks to carefully assess how it conducts business as the need for a consumer to walk into a branch is reducing.

    In addition to the above, other institutions (such as credit unions, financial advisory and investment companies, FINTECHs) actively solicit deposits and loans from consumers. Although this is a reality banks have accepted and are continuing to adapt to, banks will always remain the critical intermediary in the payment system and creation of money in an economy.


    Assets and actions now
    As of December 2019, the six-member banks manage a total of $3.4 billion in loans and $3.2 billion in deposits. The growth in loans and deposits is one indication of the growth/health of an economy. Just ten years ago, although there were a few more banks, total loans and deposits managed by the members was $2.7 billion and $2 billion, respectively. It will be interesting to review the data by the end of 2020.

    During the last few months, in the face of the pandemic, the GBA has collaborated more than ever. With the use of emails and WhatApp, the members have been in constant communication on how to continue to serve the community. As an essential service, the member banks kept their doors open since the onset of the pandemic, adjusting their operations keeping in mind the safety of the customers and staff. The banks also provided thousands of loan/credit card deferrals, spent many man-hours assisting businesses with the SBA Paycheck Protection Program and now are collaborating with the cashing of stimulus (and soon unemployment assistance) checks issued by the government of Guam.

    Since 1982, the GBA has stood with the island and will continue to stand with Guam. mbj


    — Edward G. Untalan is the senior vice president and Guam and Northern Mariana Islands regional manager for First Hawaiian Bank. He is also the president of the Guam Bankers Association and can be reached at [email protected]