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Independent Bank Corp (Mass) (NASDAQ:INDB)
Q3 2020 Earnings Call
Oct 23, 2020, 10:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Welcome to the Independent Bank Corp. Third Quarter Earnings Call. Before proceeding, let me mention that this call may contain forward-looking statements with respect to the financial conditions, results of operations and business of Independent Bank Corp. Actual results may be different. Factors that may cause actual results to differ include those identified in our annual report on Form 10-K and our earnings press release.

Independent Bank Corp. cautions you against unduly relying upon any forward-looking statements and disclaims any intent to update publicly any forward-looking statements, whether in response to new information, future events or otherwise. Please note that during this call, we will also discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures as we review Independent Bank Corp's performance. These non-GAAP financial measures should not be considered replacements for and should not be read together with GAAP results. Please refer to the Investor Relations section of our website to obtain a copy of our earnings press release, which contains reconciliations of these non-GAAP measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures and additional information regarding our non-GAAP measures.

[Operator Instructions]

I'd now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Chris Oddleifson, President and CEO. Please go ahead.

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Nick and good morning and thank you everybody for joining us today. With me as usual is Mark Ruggiero, our Chief Financial Officer and we will be again joined by Rob Cozzone, our Chief Operating Officer and Gerry Nadeau, President of Rockland Trust and our Chief Commercial Banking Officer. He will be available to answer any of your questions.

We wish again to extend our hopes for continued well-being to all of you and your families during this prolonged health crisis. As we continue to persevere and adapt during the covered pandemic, we are encouraged by our continuing ability to produce strong business results, as demonstrated by our solid third quarter performance. Third quarter net income came in at $34.9 million or $1.06 per share, well above the prior quarter. This is attributable to the strength and resiliency of our business model and of my Rockland Trust colleagues. Mark will be covering the quarter in greater detail, including a comprehensive review of our credit picture and trends which have played out as expected, especially in the highest risk industries we previously identified.

I'll start with a note on the Massachusetts economy. The unemployment rate is 9.6% in Massachusetts as of September, down from a high of 17.7% in July and up 6.8% since January of 2020. It is the seventh highest in the US. Although we see high levels of unemployment, we know the first round of economic stimulus has buoyed [Indecipherable] activity. In fact, consumer spending in the state is up 5.9% since January of 2020. Much like the rest of the nation, we are seeing a shift in consumer spending activity and this shift in activity will have meaningful impacts on our local business, some positive and some negative. The economic outlook [Phonetic] as CECL requires, fully incorporated into our loan/loss provision.

The third quarter benefited from a lower loan/loss provision and there were many positive trends in our business fundamentals as well, including strong fee income, solid commercial loan growth, continued core deposit growth, expense control, ample capital and liquidity levels, return on assets back above 1% and sustained tangible book value per share growth. None of these changes, the fact that much uncertainty persist during this crisis with no segment in economy or society immune from its impact.

For us, relationships remain our top priority as we strive to reduce burdens and anxieties while the crisis continues to unfold. We feel this true character of Rockland Trust has been even more evident to our customers and colleagues during this period, leading to our solid performance. Our core businesses are really meeting the challenge and diversity of our business lines and service offerings are buoying our resiliency. Under Gerry's leadership, our commercial bankers remain in deal flow and are still gaining new business under good terms despite the many challenges. In fact, our loan closings this year are running neck and neck with last year's levels. Our pipelines remain in good shape as well.

Our deposit generation continues at a high level, recognizing the value of core deposit funding. We are leveraging all our learnings from the COVID experience to shape our brand strategy. As other banks announced plans to reduce their branch footprint, we see this as an opportunity to capitalize on relationship, looking to a bank with a branch anchor trusted advisor. This strategy has yielded [Phonetic] record levels of new account openings during this period. Our branches also continue to be an important source of referrals to other parts of the bank. Our mortgage operation, one of Rob's businesses, continues to generate record volumes in this low rate environment.

Our expanded capacity resulting from the Blue Hills Bank acquisition allows us to accommodate the surge in demand. Our investment management group remains one of our priced businesses with growing fee revenues and assets under management now reaching $4.5 billion. Our team has more than 80 professionals across 10 investment offices across our footprint. And the Rockland Trust brand remains strong. We continue to be actively promoted by a rich blend of advertising and marketing campaigns, our reputation for stellar service, product depth and reliability reinforce its strengths. This led us to earn new customer relationships and strengthen existing ones. Looking ahead, we will continue to look for ways to grow while adapting to our experiences and observations over the course of the pandemic.

One area we're very excited about is our recent entry into the Worcester market. We opened our first Worcester full service branch in February and we're about to open our second full service branch when we couldn't be more enthused by our progress to date and the reception we have received. Commercial loan origination levels have been strong, as our hiring of experienced commercial lenders in that market is really paying dividends. We also continue to invest in our mobile and digital technology to keep pace of the growing customer preferences. No question one of the takeaways in the past six months is the growing customer alliance, expectation and comfort level with these channels, especially notable with the uptake in these channels among more senior individuals are witnessing the ease with which our customers could pivot to these channels are strong validation of investments we've made in this area. We also continue to augment our risk management efforts to address the added challenges posed by the current environment.

Additionally, we plan to take a hard look at ways to further improve our operating efficiency. As part of these efforts, we will continue to look for ways to improve our branch configuration while keeping a robust footprint as discussed earlier. To wrap all this, we continue to balance short-term considerations against longer term sustainability. In doing so, we expect to continue to produce solid results while enhancing our long-term profitability and franchise value. As always, I want to end my comments with heartfelt thanks to all my hard hardworking colleagues who are the true secret sauce to our success as they have so ably demonstrated over the last sixmonths. And with that, I'll turn it over to Mark.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

Thank you, Chris. I will now cover the third quarter results in more detail. GAAP net income of $34.9 million and diluted EPS of $1.06 in the third quarter of 2020 reflect increases of 40% and 39.5% respectively, from the prior quarter's results as reduced provision for loan losses, focused expense management and solid fee income drove strong core results despite absorbing the negative impact on consumer related fees caused by the commencement of the Durbin amendment. Also included in the third quarter results was a one-time loss associated with the termination of a hedged derivative, which when excluded, results in third quarter operating net income of $35.4 million or $1.07 diluted EPS. As these results drove a notable increase in return on assets to 1.07% for the third quarter, pre-tax, pre-provision return on average assets of 1.64% or 1.66% on an operating basis remained consistent with the prior quarter despite continued pressure on asset yields. It is also important to note that both quarter metrics were negatively impacted by the outsized level of excess liquidity on the balance sheet.

Focusing first on credit, we will highlight certain elements of the loan portfolio that have been of heightened interest to the investment community. I will first provide an update on loan deferral activity. As referenced in Appendix F of our earnings release, total loans subject to future deferral dropped to $584 million, or 6.2% of total loans as of September 30, 2020. Included in the reduction were approximately $275 million of loans that reached their deferral maturity date in September. And as we talked about last quarter, we continue our disciplined approach of ensuring updated financial information and assessment of cash flow viability and considering whether to grant a request for any additional deferral. As such, although we expect a portion of these recently mature deferral balances to enter into another round of deferral, particularly in the hotel industry, we anticipate the level of total deferrals to continue to decrease through the fourth quarter. On our similarly positive note, although early in the process of working with those recently ended deferrals, we are starting to see those looking for further relief to be agreeable to a transition from a full payment deferral to a principal-only deferral and any further extension. In terms of other credit developments during the quarter, non-performing loans increased $49.2 million during the quarter, driven primarily by the migration to nonaccrual treatment for three large commercial customers, including a $3.8 million charge-off associated with one of those relationships. Not surprisingly, these three relationships were all included in the previously identified high-COVID impacted industries. We are hopeful that management's proactive approach to identifying problem loans and possible workout solutions will lead to near-term resolutions.

Rounding out the credit discussion and as mentioned in last quarter's call, management continues to leverage the information contained in the various appendices regarding absolute levels and migration of deferral activity, as well as overall exposure to industries heavily impacted by the ongoing pandemic to drive the allowance and related provision and process. In general, the overall credit picture and our future outlook for loss estimates has not changed materially from what was assumed last quarter. As such, the third quarter provision for loan losses of $7.5 million reflects a significant decrease from the $25 million and $20 million provision numbers booked in Q1 and Q2 respectively. Given that the emergence of these loss exposures was already contemplated in the life of loan loss estimates conducted in the previous quarter, the September 30 allowance as a percentage of loans only increased minimally to 1.23%.

As a quick update on our PPP program, the company closed on another $18.7 million of PPP loans in the third quarter, bringing the total outstanding balances associated with the program to $812 million as of September 30, 2020. In addition, while we have started to receive applications for the loan forgiveness process, similar to other banks, no SBA issued forgiveness has been granted to date. As such, there has been no meaningful acceleration of PPP fees recognized during the quarter. Of the $27.1 million in fees expected to be earned through the PPP program, $5.4 million has been amortized into income on a year-to-date basis, with $3.2 million recognized in the third quarter. Please refer to Appendix C for more detail on the loan balance and income recognition associated with the PPP loans on a quarterly basis.

Lastly, although we anticipate some level of fee acceleration in the fourth quarter of 2020, the amount and timing continues to be affected by the ongoing rollout of the SBA forgiveness process. And it is also important to note that as PPP loans are forgiven, the asset conversion from loan to cash will further strain the near-term liquidity position and effective deployment of cash in this environment.

As the PPP program and other government support continues to unfold, the level of cash preservation in our customer base, combined with strong Q3 deposit growth has led to significant excess liquidity on our balance sheet, which in turn continues to cause a drag on our reported net interest margin. The third quarter reported margin of 3.13% reflected a decrease of 12 basis points from the second quarter levels. However, as detailed out in Appendix C, when excluding the impact of PPP loans, excess cash balances and other one-time items, the core margin decreased by seven basis points quarter-over-quarter. A notable component of this decrease reflects the reversal of $1.6 million of interest associated with the loans that moved to nonaccrual status in the quarter, a number of that is higher than a typical three-month past due interest in fact, due to the unique dynamic of the deferral programs. The rest of the margin compression can be attributed primarily to continued pressure on asset yields due to repricing of assets in this low rate environment, offset by reductions in deposit costs. And although we expect asset yields will continue to be pressured moving forward, we believe there are still opportunities to decrease deposit costs to partially mitigate the net impact in the near term.

Lastly, we decided to exit the $100 million hedge that we entered into earlier in the year in connection with our increased FHLB borrowings positions. With the steady buildup of liquidity experienced over the last six months, we were comfortable exiting the hedge in the third quarter and paid off the $100 million in borrowings upon maturity in early October. The cost to exit the hedge of $684,000 is included in non-interest expense in the third quarter results and the savings on interest expense on the reduced borrowings will be reflected in the margin prospectively.

I'll now provide a bit more color over some other third quarter results. When excluding PPP activity, total loans increased $26.8 million or 1.2% on an annualized basis with 8% annualized growth and commercial loans being offset by continued runoff in the consumer portfolios. The large drop and C&I utilization that we discussed last quarter has leveled off here in the third quarter and despite macro level headwinds challenging loan growth in the current environment, we were able to close on a number of deals across all commercial categories, driving the solid commercial loan growth noted in the quarter. In fact, following up on Chris's point, our year-to-date commercial loan closings through the third quarter are $981 million on a total commitment basis. This represents 98% of total new commitment that were booked through the third quarter of 2019.

We continue to remain diligent and cautious over deal flow with prudent underwriting that reflects not only the uncertainty in business financial stability, but also that of collateral valuation. Working within that credit framework, we are cautiously optimistic that with an approved pipeline at September 30 of $216 million, it should bode well for fourth quarter closing activity. On the consumer side, we are seeing record volumes from mortgage activity. With the majority of the activity being sold in the secondary market combined with continued refinance and pay off activity, net portfolio balances continue to attrite while mortgage banking income increased significantly. And similarly on the home equity side, we are seeing better-than-expected demand for new closing activity as well. However, attrition continues to challenge overall net growth. As we look out into the fourth quarter, the mortgage pipeline is consistent with what we entered into the third quarter, and the home equity pipeline has increased over 50% from prior quarter levels.

On the deposit side and as referenced earlier, a number of factors continue to drive strong core deposit balances. In addition to government stimulus money and increases from existing business and consumer accounts, we continue to see increased opportunity for new deposit relationships as evidenced by record-new core checking accounts opened over the last three months despite the muted economic environment. And has guided last quarter, with higher cost time deposits continuing to run off and further reductions made to deposit costs across the board, the cost of deposits dropped to 20 basis points in the third quarter with the ability to decline further in the near future we believe. To echo what Chris said earlier, our brand strategy in comparison to various other banks retrenchment practices has been instrumental to our robust new business generation. While digital product development and operating efficiency a top priority as we look into the future, we continue to see value in the branch network as a key tool in generating profitable core customer relationships.

Finally, regarding funding, the low level of total borrowings remained unchanged quarter-over-quarter, yet as previously discussed, the goal is to further reduce borrowings where opportunities arise, including the already mentioned $100 million pay down in Q4. Capital levels remain in fine shape with an equity to assets ratio of nearly 13% in tangible common over 9%. This provides an ample resource to support dividend payments, future asset growth or further stock buyback considerations.

Turning to non-interest items, we will highlight a few key items to note for the third quarter. Regarding non-interest income, deposit service charges and ATM fees experienced a rebound in the third quarter from the significantly depressed levels experienced in Q2, which were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The reduction and interchange income from the Durbin Amendment was as expected with overall spending activity increasing slightly from Q2 levels.

Regarding wealth management, although new money generation continues to be challenged by the current environment, market performance drove a 3.3% increase in assets under administration, resulting in increased fee income quarter-over-quarter despite seasonal tax preparation fees included in the prior quarters' results. As noted earlier, the mortgage banking income set a new record in the third quarter continuing to serve as a natural hedge against the impact of the current low rate environment. And with the aforementioned healthy September 30 pipeline, origination activity is expected to remain strong through the fourth quarter. On a similar note, loan level derivative income remained elevated at $2.5 million for the third quarter.

Regarding non-interest expense, despite notable increases in the FDIC assessment as expected and the loss on the termination of the hedge derivative, total non-interest expenses remained relatively flat with the prior quarter, as disciplined expense management remains a hyper-focus through this challenging environment. As Chris stated earlier, operating efficiency remains a strategic priority of the organization and we are looking intently at legacy cost to challenge where there may be opportunities for improvement. Any decisions, of course, will be looked at through the lens of improving long term profitability.

Lastly, the tax rate of 24.3% for the third quarter was in line with expectations. That concludes my comments and we will now open it up to questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

We'll now begin the question-and-answer session.

[Operator Instructions]

First question is from Mark Fitzgibbon with Piper Sandler. Please go ahead.

Mark Fitzgibbon -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Hey, guys, happy Friday.

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

How are you doing, Mark?

Mark Fitzgibbon -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Good. I wonder if you could give us some -- maybe a little bit more color around those three large loans. Maybe some sense of the size of each whether they're collateralized by real estate, and what the LTVs might look like? That would be great.

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure, I'll give some high-level color and Gerry is on the line as well and he can certainly add elements to the discussion as needed. But without giving too much of the details, we did mention three relationships that are moving into nonaccrual status. One is in the hotel industry, one is in the food service industry; and one is in the arts and entertainment industry. The balances are two of them are around the $18 million to $20 million range and the other is about $12 million. So over $50 million in the aggregate, which made up the majority of what went into NPA in the third quarter. The hotel is certainly secured by real estate, the restaurant relationship has a mix of both real estate collateral and other business assets, and the entertainment is also primarily secured by real estate. I think the real positive note here is two out of these relationships, we are actively and proactively looking to get near-term resolution. So we've been very proactive in going through all of the high-risk industries, looking at the relationships that we think pose risks to long term cash flow liability and these are really the three that we identified as being the top risk at this point. So we thought it prudent to move those into discretionary nonaccrual rather than continuing to just allow for long term deferrals and we want it to get these worked out and mitigate any potential losses as quickly as possible. So I hope that helps provides some color, Mark.

Mark Fitzgibbon -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

It does. Thank you. And I guess as you look at the $583 million you have on deferral now and I know it's a tough question to answer, but how much of that theoretically do you think could end up on nonaccrual absent additional government stimulus or intervention?

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Like you say, it's certainly difficult to pinpoint. I think the positive aspect that we're experience is for those that are continuing to stay on any sort of deferral program -- and this is somewhat anecdotal with really some of the more recent loans that came to the end of their maturity period on the deferral that we're continuing to negotiate with. But the positive development there is that we've actually been able to get a good portion of those from a full payment deferral to a principal-only. So our position is that if we are continuing to get interest collection payments through the deferral process, we feel that's a fact pattern that allows and represents that these are accruing loans. Any migration in the future to nonaccrual would likely follow a fact pattern where the borrower may be looking to get deferral, but would continue on a full payment deferral. And we would need to really look at that situation on a one-off basis to see if we're comfortable with whether that does allow enough of a time period for the customer to cure whatever cash flow issues they may have and feel and get us to a position that we feel comfortable that when they come out of the deferral period, that we actually have an accruing loan and we'd be able to get that deferred interest on the long run. So we're looking at these very much on an individual basis. I think the strong point of our business model is that we're very much a relationship business bank. We know our customers well, our lenders are talking to them very often throughout this pandemic and we really have a good pulse on what the cash flow and future viability looks like. So we'll continue to be proactive in identifying those that we think makes sense to put on nonaccrual. But, as we sit here today, we believe we really identified the top exposures at this point.

Mark Fitzgibbon -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Okay, thank you. And then it looks like you're carrying sort of $800 million or $900 million of excess liquidity on the balance sheet. Can you give us some sense for how long you think it might take to kind of bring that down to a more manageable level?

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, it's certainly, if not the biggest challenge in this environment for us, just from I think a core profitability perspective. I think, as I mentioned in my comments, the other unique aspect of this will be as the PPP loans are forgiven over whatever that future period may be, that will continue to convert those loans into additional cash. So there's already a headwind there in terms of cash balances. But I think we have a number of opportunities to at least make a dent in that excess liquidity. We talked about the borrowings prepay that we already did, we continue to have a number of higher cost CDs that we'll be rolling off, there may be other borrowing prepay opportunities as well. So that's certainly one avenue that we will aggressively deploy where it makes sense. Most recently, we're starting to see a bit of an uptick in long term rates. So we think given our asset sensitivity position, we believe we'd be comfortable putting some more money back into the securities portfolio. That's been a portfolio where we've been very hesitant in this environment to really deploy any of the excess liquidity on any sort of aggressive basis. And we certainly won't get too far out ahead in this environment. It's still not an optimal investment avenue, but we think now there is some opportunity to put more money to work in the securities book and get an incremental lift over what we're earning at the Fed. And as I mentioned, our pipelines are strong. We think there is continued opportunity to grow loans, we're continuing to be challenged by the pay off and attrition activity, but new loan generation is very strong and we're hopeful and optimistic that we'll have some growth potential there. And on the consumer side, I think mortgage is another lever that we'd be able to pull where we probably are at a position now where we also again have a bit more of an appetite to put really strong credit into our balance sheet portfolio versus selling in the secondary market -- not to suggest that we're going to make a big shift in terms of how much is being retained in the portfolio, but we think we can make incremental increases in that avenue as well. So I'd say Mark, it's a combination of all of those things that we feel is sort of a balance of managing what we think we need to do to better the short-term profitability, but also not extending ourselves in the long term to be in a position that really is not beneficial for the company.

Mark Fitzgibbon -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

So last question, if you exclude PPP impact, the core margin is going to continue to come down but maybe at a slower rate than we saw this quarter. Is that fair?

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I think that's very fair. Yes. I think when you strip out the excess liquidity, if you consider that staying equal, I think we've shown in the third quarter we've been able to do a nice job of making cut from the deposit side to really equal and mitigate a lot of what we're seeing on the asset repricing impact. So we think that can continue to be the case, at least for the next couple of quarters. We have some ability to keep moving on the deposit side. So I think we'll be able to temper the margin compression.

Mark Fitzgibbon -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Just one final question, if I might. There was a large demutualization in your market with big companies with a lot of capital. I'm just curious, are you seeing any impact on pricing on either side of the balance sheet from that?

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

I'll defer maybe to Jerry if that's OK to just give a little bit of color on what the market condition is.

Gerard F. Nadeau -- President of Rockland Trust Company

Hey, Mark.

Mark Fitzgibbon -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Hey, Jerry.

Gerard F. Nadeau -- President of Rockland Trust Company

I think Eastern -- well, I think you're talking about Eastern Bank Corp, really had sufficient liquidity, I think in the marketplace to make the loans that they wanted to. I think they've been over the years pretty disciplined lender, both with respect to credit and pricing. And I don't expect that that's going to change just the fact that they raised this capital. Pricing in the market has been actually on the larger side, actually has improved, spreads are greater, better flows are being installed on larger loans. The smaller loans are still a little bit of a challenge with some of the smaller, non-public thrifts and mutuals, but I think Eastern, at least in the past, they've been around a long time, they've been very disciplined. I don't think they're going to change their behavior that quickly.

Mark Fitzgibbon -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Thank you.

Gerard F. Nadeau -- President of Rockland Trust Company

You're welcome.

Operator

Thank you. Next question comes from Christopher Keith, D.A. Davidson. Please go ahead.

Christopher Keith -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Morning.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

Morning.

Christopher Keith -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Just I guess digging a little bit more into the margin, I was wondering if you could give me a sense for what new commercial real estate loans are coming on at and maybe a sense for what sets to reprice over the next few quarters.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

Sure, I think without getting too particular on some of our pricing decisions, I can say the commitments that we booked in the third quarter, we've actually been able to see a widening of spreads in some of our swap activity in the swap portfolio. We continue to be able to see fixed rate deals with floors that are much more amenable to our pricing discipline. So in terms of recent activity, we've actually -- the commitments that we closed on in the third quarter, have actually been booked at about a 40 basis point on average higher margin than what we did in the second quarter. So I think that's a good backdrop of what we believe should be able to at least maintain and protect just the absolute level of rates repricing in this lower rate environment. I think that's a nice new development in the third quarter that should help the asset repricing component. Then as I mentioned, on the deposit side, we've been able to make cuts there and we think we can continue to do so to chip away at most of that asset yield compression.

Christopher Keith -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Awesome. Okay, great. Perfect. Then I guess, just going over to non-interest income, I think you mentioned the continued strength in mortgage banking. If you were able to increase even off of the second quarter highs. I'm just curious, I understand continued strength in the market but are we looking at increase based on the 3Q or do you think it's just continued strength versus the lower historical numbers, but maybe coming down a little bit over the next few quarters?

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

Yes, I'd say -- I mentioned our pipeline heading into the fourth quarter was almost pretty close to exactly where we headed into the third quarter. So I think that gives some good context into big picture. All things being equal, we would expect to at least see probably similar closing activity. I think the one caveat that I mentioned earlier is that, given our asset sensitivity and liquidity position, we think there is an opportunity to look at putting a bit more of the production onto portfolio. Should we find those opportunities in the fourth quarter, that would obviously impact the immediate P&L result of mortgage banking income but obviously get the benefit on the interest income side and the balance sheet perspective. So that would be the one caveat that as we look at new originations through the fourth quarter may shift some of the mortgage banking revenue into portfolio interest income. In total, should be pretty comparable quarter-over-quarter.

Christopher Keith -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Okay. All right. Well, thanks for taking my questions.

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

No problem.

Operator

Thank you. Next question comes from Laurie Hunsicker, Compass Point. Please go ahead.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning. Just hoping we can go back to your commercial detail and I love the detail you gave, as always, but leverage loans, can you update us on where that is and what's in deferral there? And if you have it, the amount that appears in your highlighted commercial categories, that $1.3 billion, how much of the leverage loan book is in there? And if you don't have this, I can follow up with you offline.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

Yes, I'm just looking through real quick here, Laurie. I don't believe I have the leveraged loan isolated at this point.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Okay, I'll follow up with you offline.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

I can certainly get back to you on that.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Okay, thanks. Just looking at the expenses, I'm wondering how we should think about that and maybe you can refresh us. Just in terms of how you're thinking about a de novo strategy now, I mean, you've got a second one just about to open. Are you thinking about that for next year? How many branches are you guys potentially considering?

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

Sure. I'll let Rob maybe take the lead on that as he is sort of driving the brand strategy and in particular, Worcester, and that region is really the priority heading forward in terms of any sort of branch increase initiative, but I'll let Rob give a little bit more color there.

Robert D. Cozzone -- Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Thanks, Mark. Good morning, Laurie. Mark or as Chris had mentioned, Laurie, we are planning another branch opening in the city of Worcester in the next quarter here. Then our third Worcester area location is expected to open in the first quarter, and probably early in the first quarter. We have not identified formally any additional locations beyond those next two but we would like to open at least one more location, continuing our expansion along the route nine corridor, from our Eastern franchise to our new footprint in central Massachusetts in 2021, but I would suspect that would not certainly mean any more than two additional locations. So we have one, we're adding another in the fourth quarter, a third in the first quarter, and then maybe one or two more after that. In addition, we continue to look at opportunities for selective consolidations.

As Chris mentioned in his opening comments, we find significant value from our branch franchise for all of our businesses, frankly, and we do not plan any sort of significant consolidation but as we have done over the last decade, we regularly look for opportunities to consolidate where it makes sense and I suspect that will continue to be the case in the coming quarters and years.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Okay. And I guess along those lines, at one point, this probably rewinds now two years ago, I guess Chris suggested potentially you all would like to at some point be $20 billion or so in the Greater Boston MSA which certainly means acquisition. Can you help us think about I guess size that you would consider and then also maybe just comments about pursuing an acquisition now during the pandemic or how you think about waiting, how you see clarity on credit, just how you would approach that? Thanks.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

I think, Chris, if you wanted to just give some color into the big picture and then I can expand a bit upon how we would think about that in terms of credit considerations, etc. Chris, you may be on mute.

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Can you hear me now?

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

We can.

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay sorry. My mute button wasn't working properly. I apologize. Laurie, thanks for asking the question. So I'll take them maybe in reverse order. I think if a -- we have historically have done an acquisition every two, three years or so and we certainly would like to continue that. In the future that's been a nice complement to our growth strategy. We've been, as you know, been super disciplined, and within an adjacent door marketplace, don't do quote strategic deals. Looking down the -- I think if somebody and of course, we're always open to calls and afforded directors, CEOs call me, we would definitely engage right now, though I think it's sort of situational. There is a lot of uncertainty. We have a lot going on right now. So I think we'd have to be thoughtful about it. But Laurie, what I would be unwilling to do is to sort of let a potential acquisition sort of pass us by and somebody else pick it up. I mean, we would just figure out a way, that was an acquisition we like, and we could come to an agreement on some sort of price to say, well, let somebody else take that up. I have a reticence to that. It's a big maybe, it depends. In terms of size, we have done with Ben Franklin and then with Blue Hills. They were about 35% of our current size and we handled both of those without a hitch. So I am not afraid of doing something bigger than that. If you're talking about a sort of something along the MLV [Phonetic] lines, those -- well, I know sort of merger of equals I'd say in terms of equals in size I do believe that in an acquisition of banks of equal size, one needs to be the acquirer and sort of be the lead. But I think that will be something we've considered too. But you're right. The uncertainly right now adds a factor that will give us -- would require us to give it even more thought. Is that helpful, Laurie? I didn't really say much of anything but give you a little bit of color.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

That's super helpful. Maybe if I could just ask one more question too. Mark, I think you mentioned buybacks in your comments, I guess, Chris, how do you think more broadly about the timing of buybacks? Presumably, you're really starting to think about it or you wouldn't have necessarily mentioned in your comments, but how do you think about that? Thanks.

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

The timing of our stock buyback relative to acquisition, was that your question, Laurie?

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Yes. In other words, thinking about buybacks here, is that something potentially you're going to explore between now and the end of the year?

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. Mark can sort of further elaborate.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

Sure, certainly the reality of the stock price performance over the last quarter, we've certainly seen the valuation come in and we look out into the near term, and although we're very optimistic about all our growth potentials, we've never been a historically large organic grower. I think in this environment, the prudent thing would be to continue to make loan and deposit growth in a very prudent manner. So I think the combination of minimal expected organic growth, and the levels, the absolute levels that we have now today in capital despite the large provision we've taken and we do our stress modeling, we are very comfortable with the capital levels that we have today. So I think it's certainly an avenue that we would see in the near future that we need to be thinking about. Certainly, this environment has a lot of uncertainty around it. And it would all be predicated on our ability to play out those stress scenarios and feel comfortable about where capital levels would be after but it's certainly something that is front of mind, given all the dynamics we're talking about.

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Great. thank you. I'll leave it there.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our next question comes from Collyn Gilbert, KBW. Please go ahead.

Collyn Gilbert -- KBW -- Analyst

Thanks. Good morning, gentlemen. Maybe, Mark, if we could start with the NIM and just wanting to kind of understand that a little bit. Can you just remind us again, how much of your book is priced off of LIBOR and prime? And then theoretically, that was already repriced down. Just trying to get to the components of when we can see this NIM bottoming. So that's I guess the first question, first part of that question.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

You're absolutely right. We've historically had about 40% of the book repriced to one month LIBOR or prime. And to your point, that has occurred, and it was really the biggest impact of what we saw from the margin compression through the second quarter. So right now, the exposure we have is really just in terms of the absolute level of churn in the book and what will be coming off at higher yields and repricing into this environment. So I think that if you looke at the appendix we provided in Appendix C, that equaled or equated to about 8 basis points of compression this quarter. I mentioned, we've actually been able to make some improvement on new originations in the third quarter. We're seeing spreads widen a little bit in some areas. So I think that's a good baseline to be thinking about from a core perspective if the level of new volume and runoff is consistent with the third quarter, I think that 5 basis point to 8 basis point range would play out in terms of yield compression. Our ability to move on the deposits and funding side to offset that would certainly drive your net margin impact.

Collyn Gilbert -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay. And you kind of got to the answer, for my question. I mean, you kind of gave the answer, but just in terms of the fixed rate book that you have, and kind of what some of the near term expected cash flows are on that. You gave the answer so you kind of did the work for me. I guess I don't have to go through the components of it. But one other question was just on the hedging, are there or do you have hedges on the books right now that you're benefiting from that are flowing through NII and if so, when do you start to see those start to roll-off?

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

We do, we have, as a reminder, we have $850 million of macro-level hedges against LIBOR based loans. That has been a huge benefit. We started layering those on back in 2019, for the most part. So those are all in the money at this point as you would expect and give us protection or have provided protection against the rates dropping over the last couple of quarters. I believe they'll start running off in maybe the last -- the first laddering of that will start running off later next year. And we were very deliberate about sort of this ladder and approach of the maturity of those hedges such that there wouldn't be a meaningful write off of those hedges in any given quarter. So the maturity of the $850 million will span from 2021 through all the way out into the end of 2022 or 2023, I believe.

Robert D. Cozzone -- Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

It's actually a little later than that, Mark, sorry, to interrupt. The first one rolls off in Q1 of 2022, other half of 2022 and 2024 is when the majority rolls off.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

Okay. Thanks, Rob.

Collyn Gilbert -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay, that's helpful. And then just shifting credit. Good color on what you saw, kind of the movement you saw this quarter, and kind of what your outlook is. If we try to quantify that and think about -- it sounds as if you're indicating that maybe you don't have major risk migration potential coming in the next quarter or so. But with all of this, and with what you're seeing now, I'm just trying to get a sense of where you see that reserve going, and kind of normalizing to over the next year and a half, two years.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

I think all things being equal, certainly, we need to account for various macroeconomic assumptions. So I think if we assume that that stays as we perceive it today and the environment stays somewhat consistent, which we know is this pressure on small businesses in certain industries. But we think we've accounted for a lot of that within an outlook that expects strain on those industries well into 2021. So barring any changes to the macroeconomic forecast, I think we're in a position now where provision in levels would really go back to being driven primarily off of net charge off activity and loan growth. If we don't feel a need to build reserve based on macro factors to the extent we can mitigate charge offs, I think you'll see provision in levels, you reflect that in I think our current reserve levels, at least, being sufficient to address the loss as we see it in the portfolio today.

Collyn Gilbert -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay. That's helpful. Then just on that, then, so as we think about loss risk, one just question, the hotel charges that you took this quarter. Just curious what the original loan amount was just trying to get a sense of what loss severity was. What did you say, it was $3.8 million, or just under $4 million of a loss tied to that?

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

It was a $20 million-plus relationship, Collyn.

Collyn Gilbert -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay. Then as we think about the reserve going forward, this kind of where you have specific reserves versus a general reserve. I know you had indicated, obviously, the ones that move to non-performing assets status this quarter you'd already reserved for, but just trying to get a sense of the coverage that you have in there now for specific credits versus general?

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

I think what we feel in this environment is the right thing to do is really identify specific credits that sort of really pose the most risk. And I think, as we evidenced in this quarter, it always becomes the balance of looking at specific reserve and moving into a discretionary non-accrual at this point. So that's the approach we took with these three credits. Those are the three that right now we've identified as looking at loss exposure on a precise basis. The model will continue to drive reserve allocation, though not on a specific reserve perspective but in conjunction with the approach we took, we're also -- we've mentioned a lot about how we're getting updated information and having a number of discussions with the customers. That really feeds our ability to think about the risk rating on a lot of these larger credits. If any credit were to migrate down from a risk rating perspective, that will influence the model and drive further out increased allocation versus, what we historically thought about as a specific reserve. So I think the combination of identifying migration of risk, looking at individual credits and making decisions over extending deferrals, being proactive about putting them on nonaccrual status or not, I think that's already been reflected in our reserve results today through the third quarter, and will really be the framework that we operate moving forward to really identify individual credits and work them out as quickly as possible. I hope that helps. I don't have a specific number over what is quote-unquote, specific reserve because it's all a bit -- it's a little bit of a different process now under the CECL model, but having said that, any specific reserves that we have concern about these three are really the ones that right now have been front of mind.

Collyn Gilbert -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay. That is very helpful. And then I guess my last question is for you, Chris. Well, all three of you have mentioned it in your comments, but I'll start with you, Chris. Taking the approach that you're reiterating your positioning on seeing significant value in your branches, which is a little bit different, obviously, than what we're hearing from others and how others are moving. Can you just expand on that a little bit? What is it about your branches, your customer base, the way you operate that makes you still really see meaningful value in that branch network and the desire to continue to de novo how you are?

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I think I'm off mute. Can you hear me?

Collyn Gilbert -- KBW -- Analyst

We can. Yes.

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I'll start then Rob can chime in. I will just start by saying our core deposit franchise has been one of our incredible strengths over time. That we believe is completely attributable to our community-based relationship-based branch network. The extent that in the short to medium run I think in the long run like 15, 20, 25 years, maybe this is going to change but there is going to be a segment of the population who either desire to work with a branch actually face to face, or will open an account with a franchise that has a physical presence, just in case they need it. Another point is if let's just hypothetically say we're going to minimize our branch network and skinny it down by a lot, or think about becoming a direct bank only, we then our competitive landscape is no longer our local communities, it's the nation. I think that puts us at a competitive disadvantage. I will also say that we have extraordinary amount of referrals that come out of our relationships in the branches and I'll just highlight one.

Our investment management group, we have cracked the code on how you build an investment management business from referrals from your branch network and your commercial bankers. More the case is that there is a set of residence on the part of those person. This is to refer into an investment management group for two reasons. Often there's channel conflict, there are multiple sales forces that are competing for the same customer internally; also just a level of trust. A commercial banker and Jerry can maybe speak this is typically reluctant to hand over a really important relationship to another business unit, especially something as important as investing money, personal funds, for fear that the other business unit will sort of screw up the relationship. We generate -- pre-COVID times generate between $300 million to $400 million a year from those sources that have been really the doubt that it's super primary reason you've seen our asset growth in our investment management business, which is providing us really great returns. We think the -- historically, we think looking into the short and moderate future, that relationships are going to be key. Now having said that, I also want to say that one of the key challenges in the new technology is how do you sort of maintain some semblance of a relationship when you're completely online? So we were looking to some opportunities there as well. Rob, what would you add?

Robert D. Cozzone -- Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Well, you said that so well, Chris. There's very little to add. In addition to our wealth management business column, the majority of our small business activity comes from our branches with partnership with our business banking officers. The majority of our home equity business comes from our branches. The vast majority of our deposit accounts are still opened in branches and you heard in Chris's commentary that we had a record number of new checking accounts, consumer checking accounts, opened in the third quarter, 90% of those being open to the branches. Despite the fact that we had COVID and we had a tripling of our online account openings, 90% of all of our demand deposit openings still happened in a branch. You'll hear many other banks talk about the retention rates when they close a branch and they'll say we retained 80%, 85%, 90%, maybe even 95% of our deposits retained once we close a branch. We see that same result. When we decide to consolidate a location we retain upwards of 90 plus percent of those deposits. However, no new customer ever walks through those doors again. Although you may retain what you had, your opportunity to generate new business is severely limited when you close a location. So we've said a lot there but there is significant value in our estimation still coming from having the large geographic footprint that we currently have. And all of that comes down to the people that you have staffing those branches, of course, and how imbedded they are in the community and the service that they provide to customers when they walk through the door. That service isn't differentiated, then there is no reason to have that branch. But we have continued to have the ability to differentiate on service, as has been evidenced by lots of third-party reports.

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Let's be specific, Rob, for a second, our third party reports to Forbes magazine ranks this as the number one bank in Massachusetts, based on customer service. JD Power ranks this number two in New England, I can tell you the number one is bank of -- the bank or savings, that I could say, then you can deduce who was number one in Massachusetts from that. I can't actually say that publicly. And I will also say, I heartily endorse and encourage other banks to maintain their strategy of closing branches. That is very, very appropriate, I'm sure that's very rare. And I would encourage them to continue to do so.

Collyn Gilbert -- KBW -- Analyst

That could be a strategy in itself right there. Well, that's really great color and good answer. I've taken up enough time, but I've just want to close that one, follow up to that. So conceptually, as we think about the need obviously to get creative on the expense structure fundamentally, given where we sit with rates and all that type of thing. And you alluded to this, I guess most of the industry points to branches first, as the way to rationalize cost structure. Where within your organization do you think there is an opportunity to be more efficient from a cost-operating perspective?

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

We do have efficiency gains to be had in our branch network. We're not saying this thing that that's off limits.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

That's exactly right. There is still opportunity to become more efficient in our branches via technology in the branch and outside of the branch. Our objective is to continue to move transactions, non-value added transactions to our digital channels, so that we can enhance the conversations that we're having with customers when they are in front of us. And that we'll -- as we're able to do that and as we've already proven we can do, will allow us to reduce the total number of FTE per branch, will allow us to gradually reduce the size of our branches and make them more efficient. So that is certainly part of a continued effort to gain efficiencies throughout the retail network. In addition to select consolidations, as I mentioned earlier, I don't want to give you the impression that we don't think there's opportunity to consolidate locations, as we've done over many years. There certainly is and we'll continue to look at those opportunities and execute on them as soon as they make sense.

Collyn Gilbert -- KBW -- Analyst

Okay, that's great. I've taken too much time already. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Operator

Next question is from Nathaniel Pulsifer of Pulsipher and Associates. Please go ahead.

Nathaniel Pulsifer -- Pulsipher and Associates -- Analyst

I have two questions, one on shares, what's the status of the buyback program?

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

The program we announced earlier in the year is complete. So that program is done, there has been no buyback activity since mid-second quarter. So any future activity would have to get reauthorized as a new buyback plan.

Nathaniel Pulsifer -- Pulsipher and Associates -- Analyst

Thank you. And the second is, what do you have in addition to acquired reserves with the Fed, what I would refer to as excess reserves?

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

I'm sorry, in terms of our outstanding cash balance right now?

Nathaniel Pulsifer -- Pulsipher and Associates -- Analyst

Yes.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

So we have well over a billion dollars of cash at the Fed today.

Nathaniel Pulsifer -- Pulsipher and Associates -- Analyst

That is over and above the required reserve.

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

Pretty much, the required reserve has been pretty minimal. At this point on average, it ranges between $50 million and $100 million, so that that billion dollar number in excess of that is on average where we have been.

Nathaniel Pulsifer -- Pulsipher and Associates -- Analyst

Thank you very much. Excellent call. Thank you, gentlemen.

Operator

This concludes our question-and-answer session. I want to turn the conference back over to Mr. Chris Oddleifson for closing remarks.

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Great. Thank you, Nick. And thank you, everybody, and we look forward to talk to you about full-year results in January. Have a safe fall. Goodbye.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 65 minutes

Call participants:

Christopher Oddleifson -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Mark J. Ruggiero -- Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer

Gerard F. Nadeau -- President of Rockland Trust Company

Robert D. Cozzone -- Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Mark Fitzgibbon -- Piper Sandler -- Analyst

Christopher Keith -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Laurie Hunsicker -- Compass Point -- Analyst

Collyn Gilbert -- KBW -- Analyst

Nathaniel Pulsifer -- Pulsipher and Associates -- Analyst

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