Magazine article American Banker

What (or Who) Led This Tennessee Bank to Leave Its Comfort Zone?

Magazine article American Banker

What (or Who) Led This Tennessee Bank to Leave Its Comfort Zone?

Article excerpt

Byline: John Reosti

Commerce Union in Brentwood, Tenn., had no plans to enter a new market 120 miles away.

The $912 million-asset parent of Reliant Bank called an audible last week, opting to move into Chattanooga when an opportunity arose to hire Terry Todd, a lender with considerable experience in the market.

Todd, who is now Commerce Union's Chattanooga market president, recently left FSGBank, a division of Atlantic Capital Bancshares. Before that, he was a business banker for SunTrust's Chattanooga region.

The move highlights the continued importance of relationships in banking, even at a time when many institutions are turning more toward technology and closing branches. For Commerce Union, the hiring shows a willingness to take advantage of an opportunity that goes beyond an established strategic plan.

"We weren't really looking at" Chattanooga, said DeVan Ard, Commerce Union's president, though he now believes the city can help his company more than double in size to $2 billion in assets. "Our focus has been on middle Tennessee mainly because that's where our banks were located and because it's a growth market."

To that point, a presentation the company made at an investor conference in September dedicated nine slides to expanding around Nashville, Tenn.; none of the slides mentioned Chattanooga.

Hiring a well-known banker is critical for a newcomer entering a market like Chattanooga, where five banks control about two-third of the $9.4 billion in local deposits, based on June 30 data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The local economy is surging, said Kim White, president of the River City Company, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting development in downtown Chattanooga. Companies have recently invested about $1 billion to develop downtown, including 2,600 apartments and 1,000 hotel rooms. …

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