Photo: Paul GouldingOne South Bank CEO Kim Davis Wilson talks with Gov. Rick Scott in June.
Banking in Northwest Florida
A struggling economy over the past five years triggered the failure of eight banks in the region, all but one taken over by non-Florida newcomers.
Community banks are needed for community growth, say their leaders. “Mom and pop businesses are looking for a handshake bank — more flexible, where bankers listen to the customer,’’ says Buzz Ritchie, a 45-year banker and CEO of Pensacola’s Gulf Coast Community Bank, a 2003 startup. He’s expecting improved bottom-line results in 2012 — but not likely a profit. Ritchie says what’s hurt bankers the most is commercial real estate lending — “a lot of it in ’05 and ’06, during the post-Katrina and post-Ivan enthusiasm. It wasn’t sustainable.”
Tallahassee’s ProBank, launched in 2007 and similarly hurt, recently sought $5 million from investors to meet regulatory requirements. “Our area, which was slow to have the problem, is slow to recover,’’ says ProBank holding company CEO Corey Coughlin, a 40-year Florida banker. “Loan demand is not where I would like to see it. But Florida will get back into the boom stage.’’
Some new banks are thriving. One South Bank in Chipley was Washington County’s first new local bank in 20 years when it started in late 2008. It has since grown to $34 million in assets, says CEO Kim Davis Wilson. Its core policy: Cautious lending to help small businesses grow.
The Florida Bankers Association is optimistic for the state as a whole, says FBA Chairman Tommy Tait. “There’s more energy; there’s new business.’’ The outlook may not be quite as positive in northwest Florida, adds Tait, who’s also Pensacola market president for Summit Bank, the region’s newest community bank and one of its strongest. “I think some sustainable recovery will be needed before you see many startups.’’
Fewer Bank Failures …
» 2012 (as of Aug. 1) – None
» 2011 – 2
» 2010 – 5
» 2009 – 1
» 2008 – 0
But Bank Ratings Are Low
Among 27 regional community banks:
9 banks have a 0 rating
37% have ratings of 2 or below, compared to 11% with those ratings among all U.S. banks
33% are rated 4 or 5, the highest ratings, compared to 66% of national banks
Sources: FDIC; Bauer Financial ratings (3/31/12 data)
County Share of State Deposits
|Santa Rosa||36||$1.2 B||0.30%|