A New Jersey bank is boosting its bottom line the old-fashioned way: It's making more loans.

For at least the fifth straight quarter, Jersey City-based Trust Company of New Jersey has reported a significant increase in net income due to high growth in consumer and residential mortgage loans.

Then again, the $2.5 billion-asset company had only $65 million in consumer loans three years ago, according to Sheshunoff Information Services.

The bank says it now has more than $357 million.

"It's a very, very refreshing experience," said Siggi B. Wilzig, chairman and chief executive of Trust Co. "It makes you feel really good. And the public loyalty - I can not underline this enough - it's unreal, and we're extremely pleased with it."

The strategy is unusual in that most banks Trust Co.'s size are relying on fee-based products to increase profits, not on loan income.

Trust Co. has seen similar growth in residential mortgages, another lackluster area in the past. Mr. Wilzig said the bank only had $99 million in residential mortgages at the end of 1993. At June 30, they had $225 million, a net gain of $10 million in loans per month after payments and payoffs.

The increased lending stems from a "total re-education" of bank employees in how to cross-sell the bank's products, Mr. Wilzig said.

"In the middle of an extraordinary population that was hungry for our services, we have not done the cross-selling that a good bank should have," he said. "We can see what's happening every month now."

As a result, Trust Co. reported earnings of $9.1 million for the first half of 1996, up 65% from the same period in 1995, when they earned $5.5 million. Earnings for the second quarter rose 36%, to $4.9 million from $3.6 million.

Mr. Wilzig also attributed the growth in income to low delinquencies, despite the rapid growth in residential and consumer credits. Mortgage delinquencies are only 1.78% of all mortgages, and only 1.83% of consumer loans are late, he said.

"It's almost a paradox," he said. "When you're actively growing and marketing and bringing in the business, there's always a slight increase in delinquencies. In our case, not only didn't it go up, it went down to the lowest" ever.

Apparently, the bank's progress is pleasing regulators, too. Mr. Wilzig could not comment on whether the bank's cease-and-desist order to raise capital and improve asset quality, imposed by state and federal regulators in late 1994, would be lifted soon. But he said the bank concluded a very successful exam with federal regulators a couple of weeks ago.

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