Tag: Business & Financial Services

City National Bank Growing in Delaware

City National Bank Plans Major Newark Expansion


NEWARK – City National Bank, one of the largest West Coast banks that’s known as the “bank to the stars,” is planning a major expansion in Delaware.

The 35th largest bank in the country with more than $95 billion in assets, City National Bank has operated a trust office in the Linden Park office complex for several years. The company recently signed a lease for 30,000 square feet in the Buccini/Pollin Group-owned Iron Hill Corporate Center near Newark, according to Justin Rowley, a senior vice president of City National.

The new space will be home to a major workforce expansion for City National, growing its headcount by more than 475% in adding 253 new positions over the next few years, including operations managers, project managers, business analysts, operations specialists and other similar positions. That hiring is expected to begin in early 2023.

About 175 of those jobs will be lower, entry-level roles, but City National is preparing a $80,000 average starting salary at the office, which is about 10% higher than the state’s median household income.

The state’s public-private economic development organization, the Delaware Prosperity Partnership, has been working with City National since July on the project, and was reportedly considering other sites along the East Coast.

Geography played an important part to City National’s decision to come to Delaware, as it is equidistant to the bank’s hubs in New York and Washington, D.C., and close to the Philadelphia International Airport, which offers direct flights to Los Angeles.

Several of City National’s senior East Coast executives also work out of the current Pike Creek-area office, including Rowley, who is a Dewey Beach resident and a University of Delaware grad.

“We know the state very well. Many of the colleagues who work in our current state office have long-term and tenured experience with the state of Delaware. We know the talent and the university systems, and we know it can uniquely support our expanding growth,” Rowley told the CDF on Monday morning.

To support its expansion, the state’s job investment board, the Council on Development Finance, unanimously signed off Monday on a more than $3.53 million package of grants. That includes more than $2.75 million in a job performance grant to create the 253 jobs, $270,000 in a capital expenditure grant to support fit-out of its new offices and up to $500,000 for a workforce training grant.

The 68-year-old, Los Angeles-based bank is well-known for catering to Hollywood movie stars, helping to earn its moniker of “bank to the stars.” City National offers a full suite of personal, private and business banking, including wealth management, brokerage and leasing services, and software solutions. While supportive of customer needs, the Delaware workforce is not planned to be client-facing and focus on administrative and back-office needs, Rowley said.

Despite its roots in the City of Angels, the bank was acquired in 2015 by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), the largest bank in Canada. Rowley said that while RBC is active in the management of City National, the American bank does have a large degree of autonomy in its work.

At Iron Hill Corporate Center, City National will be joining an office workforce that has seen a refresh in recent years, including the arrival of Discover’s workforce.

When asked about its decision to invest in a large office space as remote working has increased nationwide, Rowley said City National is actually seeing more of its colleagues desire a return to offices for at least a part of their work week.

“We are not finding that work-from-home is going to be a permanent fixture in the workplace and for the banking industry specifically; and we’re actually seeing a demand from people to have either an office presence or hybrid presence,” he explained. “It’s the reason why we’re looking to expand our physical presence and building a location that is new, fresh, enticing, and actually can build that collaborative work experience. So, we actually think that the expanded office presence … will help us with our recruitment.”

This article was originally posted on the Delaware Business Times website at: https://delawarebusinesstimes.com/news/city-national-expansion/

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Ally Chooses To Grow Fair Square In Delaware

Ally Plans Wilmington Credit Business Expansion

28 September 2022  | Delaware Business Times

ally financial growing fair square financial in Delaware

WILMINGTON, Del. – Fresh off of its acquisition of fintech startup Fair Square Financial, the auto lending giant Ally is now planning an expansion in Wilmington that will add up to 150 highly paid positions.

Founded six years ago by a handful of banking veterans from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Citigroup and elsewhere, Fair Square launched its sub- and near-prime credit card Ollo in 2017.

Led by CEO Rob Habgood, the startup quickly landed the support of notable investors, securing $300 million from investment firms. Supported by a $779,000 state taxpayer-backed Strategic Fund grant in 2017, Fair Square expanded its offices at the Brandywine Building in downtown Wilmington and hired additional staff to manage its data analytics, data mining, marketing and credit underwriting.

In December, Detroit-based Ally acquired Fair Square for $750 million and has since been considering how to further grow the business.

While Ally would have options to potentially move the credit operations – it has a number of offices spread across the country – the company has chosen to invest in an expansion of Fair Square in Wilmington. It will invest $520,000 to renovate 22,000 square feet of Brandywine Building offices and increase employment by up to 200% over the next few years. The average salary for the new positions would be $170,000 and include analysts, managers and directors, according to Habgood.

“Ally has the ability to significantly accelerate the growth of our credit card business to support this higher growth opportunity,” Habgood said. “We originally chose Wilmington to start a business because it provided access to a deep reservoir of credit card talent.”

In supporting that expansion, the state’s investment board, the Council on Development Finance, unanimously approved Monday a $20,000 capital grant and a $2.64 million job performance grant to create the new jobs over the next three years. Ally currently employs 75 people in Delaware and a handful more out of state.

While the council members questioned whether any of the roles could eventually be turned remote and moved out of state, state officials assured them that grant terms require the created roles to file Delaware income taxes. They also noted that Fair Square more than fulfilled the terms of its first grant.

Habgood explained that Fair Square employees are currently working a hybrid schedule after the pandemic, but in-person communication remains a valued part of their culture.

“Our goal is to get as many people as possible and we as a business have been successful because of the integrated nature of getting all people together and working through the problems,” he said.

Ollo – a name with no specific meaning but chosen for its easy-to-pronounce name – offers two different cards, one with no annual fee and one with unlimited cash back on purchases. It worked with Wilmington-based design firm Bounteous on the products, adding to its local commitment.

Like other near- or subprime credit lenders, Fair Square goes beyond traditional credit report metrics to identify good customers, including reviewing length of residencies, long-term credit history and other data to determine if they would reliably repay debts. To date, Fair Square has about 1 million customers holding loans worth about $1 billion.

In 2020, it successfully securitized $300 million in credit card debts, with favorable ratings from credit rating agencies, showing that its modeling had produced reliable clients.

This article was originally posted in the Delaware Business Times at: https://delawarebusinesstimes.com/news/ally-plans-wilmington-credit-business-expansion/

Kurt Foreman

PRESIDENT & CEO

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Delaware’s Star Venture Capital Analyst

Getting There First in Delaware

pedro moore Delaware entrepreneur

Venture Capital Analyst Pedro Moore Likes to Invest in Companies Pre-IPO


The First State provides fertile ground for them.

Pedro Moore developed his business acumen at a young age. The native Delawarean spent summers on his grandfather’s North Carolina farm, where he picked melons and pecans to sell to grocery stores. “That was my first taste of entrepreneurship,” he recalls.

Today, the enterprising Moore is an analyst for Daymond John, an investor on the TV program “Shark Tank.” Moore, a Delaware-based advocate for funding startups, is also starting a venture fund. And he knows both sides of the equation: he’s launched several businesses outside the venture capital world.

Moore, however, is just getting started.

Leveraging Connections

The William Penn High School graduate grew up in New Castle, Delaware. At the University of Delaware, he studied marketing and management. But he founded an entrepreneurship club that was open to all majors, not just business students.

Venture capitalist David Freschman, a prominent Delaware businessman, spoke to club members. The colorful personality was famous in tech circles for starting Early Stage East, a must-do angel venture fair. Moore had always wondered how to invest in a company before it went public, and Freschman was doing just that. The student volunteered to work at the conferences that Freschman organized, and a few years after Moore graduated, he joined Innovation Ventures, which Freschman managed.

Moore, an analyst, meticulously reviewed potential investments. Freschman had plenty of words of wisdom about the process. “He always said that when you are doing due diligence on a company, make sure you collect the facts,” Moore says of his mentor. “Don’t write that something is an amazing product. Write that the product got five-star reviews on Amazon.”

Freschman also told him to “trust but verify.” “Every entrepreneur will say their product or service is amazing,” Moore says. “We will take it at face value, but we are going to verify it as part of our due diligence.”

Moore then became the executive director of the nonprofit Delaware Innovation Fund, which Freschman also started. Both that fund and Innovation Ventures focused on growth and early-stage investment in information technology, software, and business-information services for legal and financial services.

First State Angels, affiliated with the Delaware Innovation Fund, pulled together high net worth investors to fund entrepreneurial ventures.

“The rest is history,” says Moore, who has been creating his own legacy since Freschman died in 2015.

Diversified

Moore is no one-trick pony, and all his endeavors are laced with his entrepreneurial spirit. In 2010, for instance, he helped start the coIN Loft, Delaware’s first coworking space. Moore is also the owner of Bump N Play, the state’s first bubble soccer company. Players encased in plastic bubbles careen safely into each other like human bumper cars. The outfits also add a cardio challenge to the game.

However, his bread and butter is serving as a venture capital analyst for clients such as Wilmington-based True Access Capital.

Moore met Daymond John at one of Freschman’s conferences before the businessman and investor appeared on “Shark Tank.” Freschman offered to do John’s due diligence, and Moore took the lead.

John is now a busy speaker, motivational speaker and, of course, TV personality. He also is one of Moore’s clients. In addition to due diligence, Moore handles deal structures.

Not surprisingly, there is a demand for angel and venture capital funding. But there also is a need for guidance. “A doctor knows how to be a doctor, but he does not know how to invest,” Moore notes. “If he doesn’t have anyone to help him look at a deal, he’ll just hold onto his money. You need someone who can analyze the deals.”

Facing the Future

Next up, Moore is building a venture capital firm, Leverage Us Capital, which will provide flexible capital to women and minority-led companies in the mid-Atlantic region.

Delaware is liberally peppered with such entrepreneurs and startup companies. Consider a female business owner who sells “virgin” hair (chemically unprocessed human hair used for extensions). “She has a nice warehouse in Middletown and a great social media presence,” he says. “We talk about access to capital and how she can double her revenue.”

It is Moore’s goal to see her succeed, along with others who need funding. Because venture capital is a “people business,” Delaware is a good place for it, he says.

“I can’t imagine trying to get a hold of key people in Silicon Valley,” Moore says. “In Delaware, you’re only a few touch points away from a high-profile person. When the state is smaller, you’re closer, and you can reach the right people faster.”

And that, he says, gets the deal sealed that much quicker.

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UOVO Chooses Delaware

Inspired by Hurricane Sandy, UOVO specializes in the storage of precious artworks and collectibles


The final days of October 2012 wrought havoc on the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine as Hurricane Sandy moved from Jamaica up the U.S. coast, its post-tropical remnants eventually merging with a nor’easter off the coast of New Jersey and turning west to slam into northern New Jersey and New York City.

The storm inflicted an estimated $78.7 billion in damages along its path, and the flooding of lower Manhattan also dealt a violent blow to the galleries in Chelsea at the center of the city’s contemporary art community, with one art dealer estimating that the losses to the art world would total in the “hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars.”

Among those who suddenly realized how vulnerable artwork and priceless collectibles could be in the face of Mother Nature were Steven Guttman, a prominent collector of contemporary art and modern furniture, and fellow collectors Steve Novenstein and Nick Coslov, executives in the self-storage company Storage Deluxe. Novenstein and Coslov had already created an art storage facility in the Bronx as an offshoot of Storage Deluxe when the three recognized a need in the market for safer and more secure art storage on a much larger scale.

From that idea born of tragedy, the three created UOVO, a dedicated art storage and services company that opened its first facility in New York’s Long Island City in 2014. The company has now expanded nationwide and includes a 50,000-square-foot facility in Newark, Delaware.

UOVO, which means “egg” in Italian, does what the name might suggest – protecting delicate and valuable artworks and collectibles for private clients, artists, corporations and museums.

At eight floors and 280,000 square feet, the Long Island City location was the first of its kind, said Andrew Barron, Director of Marketing for UOVO. “It was really remarkable in terms of the architectural ingenuity, the level of detail and the security climate.”

Since then, the company has expanded to include three more facilities in the New York metropolitan area – one in Brooklyn and two in Rockland County – as well as West Palm Beach and Miami in Florida, two facilities in the San Francisco Bay area, and Delaware. Additional facilities in Denver, Colorado, and Dallas, Texas, are forthcoming this year.

For those not plugged into the world of museums and fine art, it might come as a surprise that such a network of storage facilities didn’t already exist. But Barron notes that much of the transport and storage of art previously was handled by traditional moving companies.

“The industry was pretty mom-and-pop and emerged in tandem with the contemporary art world,” he said. “With UOVO, we redefined the industry standard. At our facilities, we have a number of gallery-quality viewing rooms for clients to use for private showings and photoshoots and for conservators to use for conservation work. I would say that, before UOVO, art storage facilities weren’t places anyone went to visit. UOVO really recentered the facility as a space where collectors, museum professionals, gallery registrar advisors and other types of clients want to be.”

The UOVO buildings themselves are distinctive but unassuming, similar to any anonymous but well-designed office building you might see on the edge of a large city or along a stretch of interstate. But what they lack in exterior flash they make up for with amenities, safety and security.

Lobbies and public spaces are designed to be warm and welcoming – more like the lobby of an upscale office building than a warehouse – and some sites include client cafés with cold brew on tap.

“We really invest in the client experience, and we think of our client experience team, along with our account managers, as the face of the brand,” Barron said. “It’s the first interaction a lot of clients have with us.”

Security is discrete but high, and buildings are designed with safety features based on their locations. The south Florida facilities are hardened against flooding and Class 5 hurricanes, while the California sites are designed to withstand earthquakes and wildfires.

UOVO clients can range from private collectors, galleries, large and small museums and art brokers, all of whom can use the UOVO sites in different ways, Barron said. For private collectors, UOVO allows them to rotate art through their homes knowing that what isn’t currently hung is safely stored. Private dealers appreciate the viewing rooms for showing works to clients, especially if the dealers don’t maintain their own brick-and-mortar galleries. Those traditional galleries, meanwhile, can use UOVO as a space to display works outside of their exhibition schedule for a potential buyer.

On the surface, UOVO’s decision to add a storage facility in Delaware might seem incongruous, but Barron said it makes perfect sense for the type of clients UOVO serves.

“Specifically thinking about New York and south Florida, as we expanded beyond the New York metro region, we thought about the different points of connectivity that matter most to our clients,” he said. “And we hadn’t had a way to service those clients, specifically institutional clients, who are based closer to Delaware, whether it’s Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., or Baltimore. So having the Delaware facility creates a space between New York and Florida and really gives us that network all along the eastern seaboard.”

And as Delawareans know, there’s no shortage of museums, historic homes and estates, and private collectors in the First State. Barron said UOVO’s presence will provide the resources to these clients that might have previously been out of reach.

“We accommodate all kinds of clients. In looking at institutional clients, we service world renowned museums and also small, local museums who are really community-based and -focused but who also have logistics or storage needs,” Barron said. “So certainly, it’s about servicing local enterprises as much as it is about being a point of connectivity for our national network.”

In coming to Delaware, Barron said the partnerships it formed through the Delaware Prosperity Partnership eased its entry into the First State. UOVO has since returned the favor by embarking on a five-year partnership with the University of Delaware’s Museum Studies program. Called Collections Aid, the program allows graduate students to get hands-on collection management experience at local museums and archives.

“It also helps these smaller institutions that maybe don’t have in-house staff members to do some of the work they need,” he said. “It’s a win-win for the community.”

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Best Egg Experienced Record Growth in 2021

Best Egg Experienced Record Growth in 2021

Delaware's Best Egg grows

Best Egg Launches Multi-Product Platform to Help Consumers With Their Everyday Finances


Best Egg, the AI-powered, online financial platform that is owned and operated by Marlette Holdings, Inc, and its subsidiaries is pleased to share information on the success it achieved in 2021. The platform experienced a record year facilitating 437,000 new accounts and surpassing over 1.2 million total accounts since inception.

“Last year, Best Egg experienced tremendous success,” Jeffrey Meiler, CEO and founder of Marlette funding said. “In 2021 the Best Egg platform facilitated $4.6 billion in personal loans, bringing us to over $15 billion in loans since the platform launched in 2014.”

In addition to a record-breaking year for personal loans, Best Egg introduced two new products in 2021. In June, Best Egg began piloting a new Visa® credit card, offering a value proposition that provides spending controls and features that will grow and evolve as customers rebuild their credit. To date, 19,000 consumers carry the Best Egg credit card with confidence.

In December, the platform announced the launch of the Best Egg Financial Health. Free to all, Best Egg Financial Health customers initially get access to features like their VantageScore® credit score with monthly updates, credit report alerts, credit score factor explanations, a credit score simulator, financial calculators, and a Knowledge Center full of tips and ideas to help people with their finances. Since its inception, the financial health platform has welcomed more than 100,000 members.

To celebrate the launch of the Best Egg Financial Health platform, Best Egg announced the ongoing Better Credit Sweepstakes, which started on January 1 and runs through January 31 of this year. The winner of the sweepstakes will receive $25,000 to help them get their finances on track for 2022.

“Our growth has been achieved thanks to the experts and professionals who contribute their talents to our mission to build financial confidence for people who experience challenges with their everyday finances,” Meiler continued. “Marlette has been recognized numerous times as a Top Workplace within the region, a reputation that has attracted top talent. Last year we hired more than 200 employees and plan to add 350 in 2022. Our teams’ efforts place us on a path for continued and sustained growth within the next year.”

Marlette doubled the size of its team to over 400 professionals while opening a new headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. The headquarters’ infrastructure was built to provide a pandemic-friendly workspace. The company embraces a flexible approach to the workplace, offering employees the option of using the office or working remotely. Jobs open now can be found at www.bestegg.com/careers.  

With a focus on helping consumers feel more financially confident and providing simple products that help them with the challenges they face with everyday finances. This will be achieved by continuing to use customer feedback to create value and deepen its customer base across all products, while also expanding the pool of customers it serves.

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About Marlette Holdings, Inc

Marlette Holdings, LLC, d/b/a Best Egg, is a leading financial technology provider whose subsidiaries developed and operate the AI-powered Best Egg financial platform, which aims to help people feel more confident about their everyday finances. The team mixes decades of banking experience with deep customer knowledge and smart technology to deliver digital products, services and experiences in a more relevant way. Since March 2014, the platform has delivered over $15 billion of consumer loans with strong credit performance. For more information, visit www.MarletteFunding.com or www.BestEgg.com.

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Delaware Launches New Site Readiness Fund

Delaware Launches New Site Readiness Fund – Online Application Process

Site Readiness Fund Delaware Division of Small Business

The Delaware Division of Small Business is now accepting applications for the Site Readiness Fund from qualified businesses or local governments. Established through Senate Bill 127, the fund promotes economic growth and stability by investing in the development or improvement of commercial and industrial sites to attract job-creating businesses.

The Site Readiness Fund provides grants, loans or other economic assistance to qualified businesses or local governments that invest in constructing, renovating or improving commercial, industrial sites that are readily available to new businesses, established businesses that are considering moving to the state, or existing businesses within the state that need additional sites to remain or expand in Delaware.

“There is significant competition between Delaware and surrounding states to attract and keep vital businesses that create and maintain employment opportunities,” said Jordan SchultiesDirector of the Division of Small Business. “The Site Readiness Fund is an important tool we can use to stay competitive and incentivize those businesses to locate in our state.”

“The Site Readiness Fund creates more viable options for companies looking to locate or expand right here in Delaware,” said Kurt Foreman, President and CEO of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership. “The fund provides an investment in ensuring that sites throughout the state are ready for the kinds of development and job growth we all value.”

Site Readiness Fund applications are available at business.delaware.gov/site-readiness-fund. Once completed, applications can be emailed to business_finance@delaware.gov.

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