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Regions still area's banking leader, but just slightly
Bank's market share drops to 16.47 percent from 18.31 in 2008
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Regions Bank is still Gainesville-Hall County’s financial heavy-hitter, but it has seen a slow erosion of its market share over the past few years, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s annual Deposit Market Share Report.

The report, taking into account deposits as of June 30, shows that Regions has a 16.47 percent market share, compared to 18.31 percent in 2008.

The number of institutions in the market is 16, compared to 18 in 2008.

“Gainesville is a healthy and competitive banking market,” said Evelyn Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the Birmingham, Ala.-based bank.

“While we’ve seen some changes in market share over the years, we continue to attract and retain customers by providing industry-leading service and strengthening our commitment to meeting the needs of small business owners.”

Mitchell added: “We continue to invest in the Gainesville market and have experienced a steady increase in new consumer checking account openings over the past two years.”

Going back further in time, Regions was a banking powerhouse in the area. In 1996, when the area had seven primary banks, its market share was 45.95 percent.

Wells Fargo is the area’s No. 2 bank, with a 16.43 percent market share in 2011. It improved from 16.42 percent in 2010.

Wachovia had a 15.68 percent market share in 2009, as its banks were making the transition to Wells Fargo.

Based on 2011 numbers, “from my perspective, it’s a statistical dead heat,” said J.D. Mealor, the Gainesville-Hall market president for Wells Fargo.

“There’s such a small difference between No. 1 and No. 2 that it could almost be a 1a and 1b, and I see that as a very positive thing,” he said.

“A million dollars difference between the top two (banks) shows us that we are right where we need to be, especially in light of going through a little bit of change over the last year.”

The area’s No. 3 bank is United Community Bank, which is based in Blairsville and has had a Hall County presence since May 2005.

“We have steadily increased our market share and a lot of that has to do with the quality people we have,” said Dick Valentine, the bank’s Hall County CEO.

“They are all experienced people who have been in this market for, in some cases, over 30 years.”

United Community has a 13.53 percent market share, down from 13.68 percent in 2010 but up from 8.87 percent in 2006.

Other banks in the market are Branch Banking & Trust Co., SunTrust Bank, Peach State Bank & Trust, Bank of America, SCBT National, Hamilton State Bank, National Bank of Georgia, Chattahoochee Bank, First Century Bank, Brand Banking, Independence Bank of Georgia, Bank of the Ozarks and Mountain Valley Community Bank.

Eight of the banks have only one office. SunTrust has the most offices, with nine.

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