A Dubuque-based financial institution opened a new fiscal year on a record note.
Heartland Financial USA on Monday reported net income of $ 50.8 million for the three months ending March 31 – its highest quarterly total on record. It was also a 153% increase over the same three-month period the year before.
“We’ve got a great start to 2021,” said Lynn Fuller, executive president of operations. “We set a new record for first quarter net income.”
Heartland reported total assets of $ 18.2 billion at the end of the quarter, up from $ 13.3 billion at the same time a year earlier.
Much of this growth has occurred in the western and southwestern regions of the United States, which collectively house about 60% of Heartland’s total assets. Fuller said Heartland will continue to closely monitor growth opportunities.
“We continue to have a very strong pipeline of acquisitions across our footprint with a number of active opportunities currently underway,” he said. “I expect acquired growth (this fiscal year) similar to what we experienced last year.”
Heartland officials also noted a growing sense of confidence in the economy on Monday.
“I have returned to the road to meet with clients and bankers, and I am encouraged,” said President and CEO Bruce Lee. “Business customers are optimistic and expect strong growth in the second half of the year.”
Lee, however, warned those customers are still facing headwinds, including rising raw material costs, supply chain disruptions and difficulties in hiring skilled labor.
The banking experience, for both customers and employees, is also approaching a return to normal, Lee noted. He said the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination, coupled with easing restrictions in many states, has allowed banks to reopen facilities and reintroduce services.
“Across the country, we are opening more full-service branches and meeting more clients in person,” he said.
However, not all states are created equal. Of the 12 states in which Heartland operates banks, Lee said, Wisconsin and Illinois have the most restrictive policies, a reality that has slowed efforts to open branches in those states.
Lee noted that employees at the Heartland company, many of them in Iowa, will begin a gradual return to the workplace during the second week of May. Initially, these returning employees will be separated into two groups, which will alternate between working in the office and working from home.
Officials stressed the importance of employee safety during their return to work. As the company’s footprint widens, its workforce has grown steadily.
Heartland had the equivalent of 2,131 full-time employees at the end of the first quarter, up from 1,817 at this time last year.