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Local bankers earn bragging rights as report shows the amount of money in the bank

POSTED: October 25, 2007 10:24 a.m.

The battle for market share among commercial banks in Hall County is a tight race as once dominant banks see their piece of the pie continue to erode as competitors gain ground.

This week, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation issued its annual market share report, a snapshot of bank deposits as of June 30, 2007.

While critics question the report as a true comparison of banks, it is the only report showing an across the board look at deposit business at all FDIC insured banks.

For the first time in Hall County, the leading banks dropped below a 20 percent share of the market.

Regions Bank, which has been the market leader in Hall County for many years, held on to its lead by a razor-thin margin. The bank had $527.6 million in deposits, giving it a 19.97 percent market share. Deposits at Regions dropped $47.6 million in Hall County from the same day in 2006.

The news was good for Gainesville Bank & Trust, which moved from third to second and came within $24 million of the top spot with $503 million. It marks the first time that GB&T topped the half-billion level and gives the bank a 19.06 percent share.

"We’re very excited," said Michael Whitmire, president of Gainesville Bank & Trust. "The total deposits in the Hall County market grew a little over 2« percent while our deposits grew 10 percent, which means we’re growing four times faster than the market."

Wachovia, which had been second for the past two years, dropped to third place with a 17.53 percent share of the market. The bank’s Hall County deposits were $463 million, compared with $555.7 million the year before.

Brian Willman, Wachovia’s market president for North Georgia said that because of interest concerns, customers selected other options within the company.

"We had consultations with a couple of our largest clients to make sure they had a higher yield than we could offer through FDIC insured products, so we moved them off balance sheet into some alternative, longer range investments," Willman said.

The fourth spot was claimed by United Community Bank, which reported deposits of $251.6 million in Hall County, up from $228.5 million in 2006.

Two years ago, dozens of former Regions executives and support staff left the bank and joined United Community, a Blairsville-based bank holding company.

Since that time, the bank has grown from one to five offices and has captured additional market share.

While United’s numbers are up, an executive said they are now focused on building long-term relationship business.

"I’m real pleased that we continue to grow and that our customers feel good enough to trust us to handle all their banking needs," said Dick Valentine, CEO of United Community in Hall County.

Branch Banking & Trust, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based bank with five offices in Hall County came in fifth, but had the largest growth in deposits of any of the 15 banks.

"We’ve very proud of being able to meet more of the depositor needs in Hall County," said Perry Tomlinson, president of the North Georgia region for BB&T.

He said the bank has grown in both personal and larger institutional deposits.

"There were a couple of institution-type accounts we went after and were able to land those. Some of them were new to BB&T and it is nice to be able to serve those clients."

BB&T had deposits of $231.5 million, up from $158 million in 2006.

In 2004, BB&T was second to Regions in the market with $375 million, dropping to fourth a year later with deposits of $154.9 million.

Peach State Bank & Trust, which opened just two years ago, saw its deposits climb from $59 million in 2006 to $89.7 million this year.

The total deposits on June 30 in FDIC banks in Hall County was $2.64 billion, up from $2.57 billion on the same day in 2006. The deposits were in 15 banks, which is down one from last year with the departure of Washington Mutual Bank, which closed its only office, located at Robson Crossing.

Statewide, the top banks in deposit share were SunTrust, Wachovia, Bank of America, BB&T and Regions.



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