Magazine article American Banker

2 Community First Agency Deals Boost Branch-Matching Strategy

Magazine article American Banker

2 Community First Agency Deals Boost Branch-Matching Strategy

Article excerpt

Community First Bankshares of Fargo, N.D., is continuing its expansion with deals for two insurance agencies to pair with bank branches.

Brad J. Rasmus, Community First's senior vice president of financial services, said the company uses a pairing strategy with all its insurance agency acquisitions. It buys agencies in towns where it has branches and moves the agency offices into the bank buildings.

Referring a banking customer to the insurance operation then is as easy as sending them next door. "We feel the need as an institution to continue to expand our relationships with customers," Mr. Rasmus said. The shared sites help cement agencies' identities as part of Community First, he added.

The two new deals -- Barnard Insurance Agency in Casper, Wyo., and Oftedahl Insurance Services in Marshall, Minn. -- would bring the company's agency total to 43. Both Barnard and Oftedahl are property-casualty agencies, selling commercial and personal lines such as homeowners, auto, and umbrella liability. They also sell some life insurance, though not substantial amounts. Both deals were announced Jan. 8.

Most of the acquired agencies operate under the Community First Insurance name, as would the two newest additions.

As the 14-year-old banking company has grown, it has bought branches with insurance operations, but only in recent years has it aggressively sought agency acquisitions, Mr. Rasmus said. "The majority of our agencies are in the Midwest at this point," he said. …

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