August 25, 2021
Christopher D. Maher
This year marks the 25th anniversary of OceanFirst’s initial public offering. For our team, it’s an occasion for celebration, as well as an opportunity to reflect on our past achievements and look ahead to our future. I also believe our experience can be a lesson for other companies—about the need to continually reinvent themselves to serve the changing needs of customers, develop the talents of employees, deliver performance and value for investors, and support their local communities.
OceanFirst’s 1996 IPO raised $168 million, setting us on a path toward today’s market valuation of over $1.3 billion. But, more significant than the amount of capital raised is what we’ve done with that capital over the years. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our team, a mutual savings institution founded in 1902 in Point Pleasant, N.J. has been reinvented as a growing regional commercial bank serving customers from Boston to Baltimore.
New Model Expands Services
Going public allowed OceanFirst to successfully pursue a commercial banking model, vastly expanding the range of services we are able to provide to individuals, businesses, governments and non-profit organizations. Our commercial loan portfolio currently totals around $5.3 billion and our treasury management balances exceed $5.0 billion—just two examples of services we can offer today that weren’t even part of our business model back in 1996.
We’ve also been a leader among our peers in launching digital solutions that allow customers to bank where, when, and how they want. Today, OceanFirst offers mobile banking, access to e-wallets, and the Nest Egg web-based investing platform, along with other digital tools. Our Customer Care Center can handle up to 6,000 calls per day and our video teller terminals have processed some 220,000 transactions since their introduction in 2014.
Seven mergers in the past six years, along with the creation of loan production offices in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston, have added to our talented team and expanded our services both within New Jersey and along the Middle Atlantic corridor. At the same time, customer satisfaction scores have been strong and rising: our Net Promoter Score (now at 69%) has gone up 33% since 2017, the average score on customer reviews across our branch system (4.68 out of 5.00) is better than many larger banks, and retail customer retention is 92%. And, we’ve also delivered a total return to shareholders, through share price appreciation and dividends, of 649% since the IPO.
A Foundation for Community Engagement
Another lesson from our IPO is that necessary changes in the business must be combined with a reverence for a company’s culture and community. A prime example was the establishment of OceanFirst Foundation, capitalized with 671,000 shares of common stock at the time of our IPO, with a mission to support our local communities. The Foundation has since awarded more than $42.5 million in grants to non-profit groups in our marketplace, including over $500,000 to health care providers and other organizations to assist with COVID-19 relief efforts during the pandemic.
OceanFirst was the first bank in the nation to create an independent charitable foundation as part of a mutual-to-stock conversion. At least 87 other banks have since adopted our model—providing initial funding for their foundations of over $730 million—and those are just the ones we’ve been able to confirm. Based on OceanFirst’s experience and the shareholder returns delivered by bank stocks in recent years, it is likely that more than $1 billion of community- focused philanthropy has been made possible by our Foundation model, benefitting many thousands of people throughout the country. We are proud to have set a positive example for others to follow.
The last 25 years have seen near-constant change. Economic cycles have come and gone; a digital revolution has disrupted markets, industries, and the way we live and work; and customers’ needs have evolved accordingly. The IPO that OceanFirst is celebrating this year enabled us to embrace these changes—supporting our investment in talent, technology and services, and our commitment to our community—and positioning us well for the next 25 years and beyond. As a result, we look forward to a future marked by innovation, progress and an enduring commitment to our customers, employees, shareholders, and community.