Va. Bank Pumps Up Brokerage with Alliance

Article excerpt

Chesapeake, Va.-based Monarch Financial Holdings Inc. says it hopes its alliance with a local broker-dealer will invigorate its five-year-old investment brokerage unit.

The holding company, whose bank subsidiary, Monarch Bank, has $378 million of assets, has formed a limited liability company with Virginia Asset Group, a year-old firm based in Virginia Beach.

"It's small at this point," Monarch executive vice president Brad Schwartz said of the bank's brokerage. "We just wanted more out of it."

He declined to give figures for assets under management at the bank, which has two brokers, or its new partner, which has five. He did say that the business plans to grow to 15 to 20 investment and insurance reps within three years.

Darin Ely, the owner of Virginia Asset Group, is joining Monarch's management team and will be the brokerage unit's president.

Mr. Ely brings to the equation his "leadership and ability to recruit and hire," said Mr. Schwartz. "He gets the bank name and access to clients, and we get a strong leader."

Seven-year-old Monarch Bank is one of 30 community banks that own and do business through BI Investments LLC, a for-profit broker-dealer formed by members of the Virginia Bankers Association.

Mr. Ely is a veteran of Resource Bank in Virginia Beach, according to Jim Eads, BI's managing director. Resource Bank was also a BI Investments member until the bank was bought in 2004 by Lancaster, Pa.-based Fulton Financial Corp., he said.

Virginia Asset Group is to serve the Hampton Roads, Va., region as well as the Outer Banks of North Carolina through the group's headquarters office and the bank's eight branches.

In addition to offering investment products through BI Investments, Monarch is one of 50 banks that own and do business through Bankers Insurance LLC. …