Five Questions With: Edward O. Handy III

Edward O. Handy III
EDWARD O. "Ned" Handy III is The Washington Trust Co.'s president and chief operating officer. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

Edward O. “Ned” Handy III is president and chief operating officer of Washington Trust Bancorp Inc. The parent of The Washington Trust Co. last week announced it would open a new bank branch in Coventry. Handy talks with Providence Business News about the bank’s strategy with new branches, and discusses other first-quarter trends.

PBN: Can you talk about how opening new branches helps the bank?

HANDY: Expanding into the northern part of the market helps us with visibility. We’re still at about 10.5 percent market share for deposits. Inching that up against the two big market shareholders (Citizens Bank and Bank of America) requires some level of convenience and visibility.

PBN: How do they work from a practical point?

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HANDY: We still believe that customers want a branch for certain types of transactions and we will continue to provide methodically more-sensitive transactions. Smaller, lower staffing levels, a little more technology oriented to solutions – whether it’s mobile or the ability to transfer between accounts or bank-to-bank – those are becoming increasingly important.

PBN: Can you talk about some of the growth the bank realized during the first quarter in commercial real estate payouts?

HANDY: Customers who have borrowed money from us are taking advantage of low-cap rates. They are opting to sell the properties rather than ride out the duration of the loan. In some cases, those new loans are with a fixed rate. … A lot of the larger, higher-quality construction deals we’ve done recently, upon completion, once they’re stabilized and have gone through the lease-up phase, those deals become interesting to [other financial institutions].

PBN: How would you characterize the bank’s lending pipeline for residential and commercial?

HANDY: The residential pipeline was about $120 million, it’s now about $170 million. … Commercial is about $200 million. The commercial pipeline was around $100 million, so that’s come back nicely.

PBN: How are you feeling about the rest of the year?

HANDY: Frankly, it’s pretty straightforward. The company has been run in a consistent way for a long time. I don’t think there’s anything new. We’ll be back in the second quarter expecting any one of our legs of the stool [of the company] to perform. And it’s nice to have multiple legs.

Eli Sherman is a PBN staff writer.

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