Financial services firms invest in North Suffolk

Published 10:02 pm Saturday, December 24, 2011

When Arie Korving was looking for a location to set up his own investment firm, he found North Suffolk to be the perfect fit.

Korving started his firm, Korving & Co., in January 2010 after he broke off from UBS, a large investment company with an office in downtown Norfolk. He wanted to find a location that would be convenient for both established and new clients.

“After looking around quite a bit, we decided North Suffolk was a great place,” he said. “People don’t want to drive into downtown Norfolk. It’s a lot easier to not have to navigate the traffic or deal with the parking.”

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Since moving into a Harbour Breeze office, he said, he’s found the area to be a perfect place for an investment company because it is centrally located, has a lot of available office space and has good access to technology.

“I think we may be one of the first (investment firms) that set up shop here,” Korving said. “I think you are going to see more in the future, because it’s a good area — there’s office space and technology.”

Jim Seibel, a financial adviser with Edward Jones with an office in Harbour View, said he set up shop in North Suffolk because it was closer to his home, and he thinks investment firms can be successful pretty much anywhere.

“People everywhere need financial advice to prepare for retirement,” he said. “As Suffolk has grown, its population has grown, but it’s the same as anywhere else — its people are working toward retirement.”

Edward Jones, he said, has always allowed its advisers to set up shop in whatever city they wanted to and hasn’t focused on establishing in city centers.

Seibel has been a financial adviser in Suffolk since 1984, when he opened an office in the downtown area. He moved to Harbour View in 2007.

He said he doesn’t think there is a major difference between his downtown clients and those from North Suffolk.

“There’s a lot of money in people’s accounts downtown, and there’s a lot of money in people’s accounts here,” Seibel said.

If there is any difference, he said, it’s that there is more of a spending mentality in the north, rather than a saving attitude.

In addition to the smaller financial offices in North Suffolk, the area is also home to larger institutions, such as TowneBank, which has established a huge presence on Harbour View Boulevard, with more than 100,000 square feet of office space in the area.

J. Morgan Davis, the president and chief banking officer of TowneBank, said the bank has invested so much in North Suffolk because it offers great transportation options, plenty of land for expansion and good proximity to the area’s ports.

“It is the future growth corridor of Hampton Roads,” he said. “You almost have to have a presence in Suffolk, or you’re not really a player in the Hampton Roads market.”

Davis said he thinks Suffolk is “one of the most exciting places that we have a presence.”

“It’s a big part of our future, and we’re glad to be a part of it,” he said.

Whether large companies or small firms, the financial services industry will continue to grow in North Suffolk, Korving said.

“There’s going to be an evolving trend,” he said. “I think Suffolk has created a climate and an area that I think is ideal for that.”