This fall, a new commercial bank targeting special financial needs of businesses, and the executives who run them, will open for business in Jackson.
“The distinctive factors of this bank are that it’s a bank designed to focus on the professional market and it’s unique because of the way we’ve raised the capital,” he said founder Alan H. Walters. “It’s a concept that’s certainly new to Jackson and is the first of its kind in the state. It’s not a new concept, but it’s one that’s been highly successful in other markets.”
A group of local business and professional leaders led by Walters, a former Deposit Guaranty National Bank executive, submitted an official application to state authorities last week for a Mississippi charter to operate a new institution, First Commercial Bank.
“Our business model for the new bank is based on serving certain segments of the banking market, and doing so very effectively,” said Walters, president and CEO, former head of DGNB’s mortgage lending division. “Our strategy is to be the first Mississippi institution created from the ground up to meet the special financial needs of businesses, the executives who run them, professionals such as architects, physicians, lawyers and the like, and others in these types of categories.”
200 INVESTORS EXPRECTED BY OCTOBER OPENING
More than 130 investors from the tri-county area (Hinds, Rankin and Madison) have plunked down $250,000 in the initial offering. By the time the bank opens in the Meadowbrook East Office Park at the intersection of Meadowbrook Road and Interstate 55 on Oct. 1, Walters estimates up to 200 investors will be on board.
“Rather than having the initial stock concentrated in the hands of just a few people, which is oftentimes the case in a bank startup, our goal is to have a broad base of ownership from the metropolitan Jackson area,” Walters said. “To help make that happen, we’re limiting the amount of capital any investor can put in for the initial stock offering — $250,000. While that’s certainly a lot of money, it’s not a lot of money in terms of what you oftentimes see in the startup of a new bank. We think that’s going to help us keep in touch with the communities and the areas that we serve by having a lot of shareholders throughout the metro area.”
EXPERIENCED BANKERS ONBOARD
First Commercial Bank will have an initial staff of 12 to 14 employees, with three executive bankers already lined up:
• Sam Lane, a 20-year banking veteran, will serve as senior vice president in charge of client development;
• Joe Lutz, another 20-year banking veteran, will serve as senior vice president and chief credit officer;
• Robert Halford, a McComb native, will serve as senior vice president in charge of finance and operations. Lane and Lutz are former DGNB executives. Halford’s most recent experience was serving as CFO of a startup bank in Greensboro, N.C.
“Assembling the bank’s board of directors is a work in progress,” he said.
PURSUING NICHE MARKET SUCCESSFUL
Walters considered the concept of opening a new commercial bank in Jackson before the AmSouth acquisition of DGNB last year.
“People were interested in the idea of a locally-owned institution,” he said. “Last summer, based on some of those conversations, I took some time off and visited similar banks in other states to pursue the concept and see how they had been successful. I came away with fresh ideas from that and was encouraged by that. There were more conversations, and a continued interest, so we went from there.”
The strategy of pursuing a niche market has proven successful in other states and investors are confident metropolitan area businesses and professionals will make the new Jackson bank a success, Walters said.
“We will be unique by providing high quality service to high quality customers,” he said. “Most banks claim a similar strategy, but few are actually able to execute it. We know we will, because of our emphasis on personal relationship building.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 853-3967.