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KeyCorp's mortgage business growth bodes well for Amherst

KeyCorp's residential mortgage business, which the bank acquired in its deal for First Niagara, remains a strong contributor to the Key's overall results.

"It has been a real bright spot for us," said Chris Gorman, Key's president and chief operating officer. "It's also a bright spot for Buffalo." Key has a mortgage operations hub on Ridge Lea Road in Amherst, along with centers in Connecticut and Utah.

The Cleveland-based bank said it originated $4.3 billion in residential mortgages in 2019, up over 120% from a year ago, including $1.5 billion originated in the fourth quarter, said Beth Mooney, Key's chairman and CEO.

"We are seeing record activity and pipelines are poised for continued growth into 2020," she said.

Mooney said the bank has reaped the benefits of taking on the mortgage operations it acquired from First Niagara in its 2016 deal and building them out across Key's entire footprint.

Key has just completed the third year of its five-year community benefits plan, a $16.5 billion program of loans and investments related to the First Niagara deal but spread across Key's 15-state operations. Gorman said the plan's figures for 2019 were not yet in, but he feels good about where the program is headed.

He pointed to the branch that Key opened last June at East Delavan and Grider as an example of the plan's local impact.

"We think we were ahead of our time putting that branch there," Gorman said. "We are just so pleased with how the community has embraced us, and in all metrics perspective, that branch is outperforming what we even anticipated. So we feel good about the investments we've made in Buffalo and will continue to do so."

Mooney is in the midst of transitioning out of the roles of chairman and CEO, and handing those duties to Gorman. The transition, which was announced last year, takes effect May 1.

KeyCorp on Thursday reported fourth quarter net income of $439 million, or 48 cents per share, down 4.4% from a year earlier.  For all of 2019, Key reported net income of $1.72 billion, down 8% from 2018.

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