Dubuque financial institution reports strong 2021

A Dubuque-based financial institution on Monday reported a solid finish to 2021, with a strong fourth quarter.

HTLF officials expressed optimism during a quarterly earnings call that the winds in their sails will continue to build this year, while acknowledging that headwinds generated by a changed economic landscape following the COVID-19 pandemic could create unexpected turbulence.

“It’s really a growth story,” President and CEO Bruce Lee told the Telegraph Herald after the call. “We had record deposit growth for the year. … The other thing is our credit is just outstanding.”

HTLF, formerly known as Heartland Financial USA, reported net income of $47.6 million for the fourth quarter, which concluded on Dec. 31. That represents a 26% increase compared to the same quarter during the previous year.

HTLF recorded net income of nearly $212 million in 2021, up from $133.5 million in 2020.

Headquartered in Dubuque, HTLF is a diversified financial services provider, which offers banking, mortgage, investment and other financial services and has a presence in 12 states, including Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Total assets in 2021 grew to $19.3 billion by the end of the fourth quarter, an increase of about $278 million compared to the previous quarter and $1.36 billion higher than the same point one year earlier.

Another highlight was deposit growth. Total deposits in 2021 were $16.4 billion, an increase of $1.4 billion from 2020.

Company leaders linked its strong performance to its talent pool.

As a testament to HTLF’s recruitment efforts, Lee said, the company was able to expand its presence in California’s Central Valley food and agribusiness sector, where it issued loans to both growers and processors.

The company also extended its reach in “high-growth markets” in the Midwest, opening branches in St. Paul, Minn.; Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and two offices in the Chicago suburbs. That resulted in the addition of 15 commercial bankers in those areas.

HTLF also noted it will continue to run administrative functions from the Roshek Building, now branded as “700 Locust,” with a staff of about 400.

The company expects to grow commercial loans by $200 million to $250 million during the first quarter of 2022, Lee said.

But unknowns remain.

“Customers are managing challenges from COVID, supply-chain disruptions, workforce shortages and wage pressures and inflation,” Lee said during Monday’s call.

As far as stock performance, Bryan McKeag, chief financial officer, believes that although it’s hard to predict, the company is in “a good position” heading into the next year given the momentum HTLF is seeing in loan growth.

“That is really the engine for the bank,” he said.