Fidelity Bank Celebrates 50 Years and Counting

By Fidelity Bank
Posted: October 1, 2020

Fidelity Bank first opened its doors to customers in Edina, Minn. on October 8, 1970. The bank was originally chartered in September 1970 as Southwest Fidelity State Bank of Edina and affiliated with Fidelity Bank and Trust in northeast Minneapolis. Fifty years later, it is one of the few remaining locally owned and operated community banks. 

Initially, the bank focused on consumer services and real estate lending. However, in 1978, under the leadership of then-president Jim Morton, the bank’s focus shifted to commercial banking – a move that proved pivotal to Fidelity Bank’s long-lasting success. 

Today, Fidelity Bank serves primarily small to mid-size businesses and offers a full spectrum of business banking services, including commercial lending, mortgage warehouse funding, equipment financing, equipment leasing, cash management, and factoring services. 

Throughout its history, the bank has gone through two ownership changes. In 1986, local businessman Robert Reznick purchased the bank and renamed it Fidelity Bank. Then, in 2005, a long-term investment by a group of related trusts purchased the bank. Through each transition, Fidelity Bank successfully maintained the same high level of client service, strong financial results, and continuity of leadership. 

In 2008, Jim Morton retired as CEO and became chairman of the board (retired from the board in December 2014) while Charles Mueller took the reins as president and CEO. 

Making Relationships Matter

Mueller started with the bank in 1983, working his way through the leadership ranks before being appointed president/CEO in 2008. Throughout his career, he has made a significant impact on the culture and success of the bank by valuing the contributions of his employees and understanding the importance of developing relationships with clients.

Under his leadership, the bank earned a reputation for its commitment to relationship banking. At Fidelity Bank, the bankers take time to really get to know each client and anticipate their financial needs, becoming not just a valuable resource but a trusted partner leveraging long-standing relationships in the local business community. Clients have come to appreciate this personal approach as well as the bank’s flat organizational structure, which empowers the bankers to make decisions quickly and eliminates unnecessary red tape. 

Finding Their Niche

With more than 30 years of industry experience, Fidelity Bank is one of only a small number of community banks to specialize in mortgage warehouse funding. During the downturn in 2008-2009, many warehouse lenders exited the warehouse business, leaving a large demand and few providers. 

Charles understood the market need and led an initiative to double down on the bank’s expertise in warehouse funding by upgrading all documentation and expanding to other markets, primarily in the midwestern states. 

In 2014, Fidelity Bank purchased a warehouse operation in Houston that served a smaller mortgage banking market. Based on these strategic expansion initiatives, the warehouse division of the bank continues to thrive and funds $4 billion to $6 billion in mortgage loans per year,  originated across the country, for mortgage banking clients with headquarters in 11 states. 

Expanding Capabilities

In 2018, as part of the bank’s strategic plan to grow and diversify in ways that differ from other community banks, Todd Williams led the acquisition of a well-established factoring operation, TCI Business Capital. By essentially providing an advance on accounts receivable assets, factoring enables a business to receive a quick influx of cash when they need it most. Invoice factoring services provide clients with consistent cash flow to meet payroll, manage expenses and grow. 

It’s attention to strategic development and diversification opportunities that has led Fidelity Bank to remain relevant in various asset classes through the course of market changes (economic and banking industry changes) as they celebrate their 50th year in business and look ahead to the next 50+ years. 

Rising to the Challenge

Like most businesses, when the COVID-19 crisis hit earlier this year, Fidelity Bank had to react quickly, not only to meet the financial needs of their clients, but to ensure the health and safety of its employees. In a matter of days the bank pivoted from everyone working onsite to social-distancing scenarios with a few employees staffing the bank while the rest of the team transitioned to working from home, something the bank had never experienced before.

Meanwhile, as small businesses across the country scrambled to apply for the federal government’s initial $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), many found themselves stuck in a frustrating state of limbo. Despite having long-standing relationships with large, national banks, business owners weren’t even being given the opportunity to apply for a loan. 

Unable to gain access to much-needed emergency capital through larger financial institutions, many small businesses in Minnesota turned to independent banks for help. Fidelity Bank was uniquely positioned to adapt quickly and execute the program. The bank’s small, but nimble team had the expertise and dedication to pull together and respond to the need.  

From the time the first phase of program became available on April 3 to when funding ran out on April 17, Fidelity Bank had approximately 20 people working 12-14 hour days to service the program. Between Friday and Sunday, the first weekend the program was available, Fidelity Bank authorized 144 loans, 100 of which were done on Sunday alone. Over the course of the program, the bank authorized more than 400 PPP loans, funding $131 million for small businesses.  

What’s Next? 

In recent years, as part of its strategic plan, the bank has been making changes to its leadership structure. This includes expanding the senior management team with an eye toward future growth.   

On July 15, Todd Williams was elected president of Fidelity Bank. Williams has been with the bank for more than 30 years, most recently as executive vice president, and is responsible for guiding much of the bank’s strategic growth in recent years. 

In keeping with the bank’s commitment to continuity of leadership, CEO and outgoing president, Charles Mueller, will shift his focus to work on more targeted strategic projects while continuing to support Williams in his new role.

Most importantly, as it celebrates the first 50 years, Fidelity Bank team is grateful for the relationships that have made their success possible and look forward to continuing to support the needs of the business community in the Twin Cities for the next 50 years and beyond.

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