Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Independence Banks ranks number 2 in nation among community banks

Independence Bancshares Inc. has grabbed the No. 2 spot in a leading financial intelligence provider’s ranking of the best-performing community banks in the country with between $500 million and $5 billion in assets.

Texas-based Westar Bank Holding Co. Inc. was No. 1 in the national rankings.

Independence, with $1.012 billion in assets, did not significantly out-perform the top 100 banks in any one category used for the analysis, but it scored well enough across the board to lock in second place.

That assessment came from SNL Financial, which provides information and analysis for banks, financial, insurance, real estate, energy and media/communications companies.

“That means there was nothing extreme in any one area,” Independence President Darrell Higginbotham said. “We performed well enough in all categories to earn that second ranking.”

Of the 760 community banks that fit SNL’s criteria for the rankings, none has more than 60 offices.

If consolidated information was reported, the bank was ranked at the holding company level. Otherwise, SNL used commercial bank subsidiary data.

Higginbotham said another major takeaway from the No. 2 ranking is that it’s an asset for the community to have a nationally-ranked bank with the strength and stability to meet the region’s financial needs.

Here is Independence’s performance in the six areas that were ranked: 1.89 percent in return on average tangible assets before tax; .11 percent in net charge-offs as a percent of average loans; .46 percent adjusted nonperforming loans as a percent of total loans; 54.46 percent operating expenses as a percent of operating revenue; 4.37 percent net interest margin; 9.02 percent loan growth rate.

Higginbotham and CEO Chris Reid attribute the company’s success to its quality employees.

“We also think that it’s a validation of our strategies, of how we provide community bank services, and that communities are responding to how we do business,” Higginbotham said.

Northern Bancorp Inc. of Woburn, Mass. kept its net charge-offs to almost zero (.01 percent) to make it into the third slot.

Kentucky placed seven of its 22 banks eligible for this analysis in the top 100.

Independence Bank’s roots are in McLean County where Farmers & Merchants Bank opened in 1909. The modern-day history, however, began in 1971 when Charles A. Reid and Maurice E. Reisz purchased that bank and Providence State Bank in Webster County.

Soon after, current CEO Chris Reid joined his father and uncle and assumed a leadership role in the banks. In 1997, the two small banks were incorporated under one name, Independence Bank.

The bank has grown fast with offices now in Henderson and Owensboro, Sebree, Beech Grove, Hawesville, Lewisport, Bowling Green and Paducah.

The banks now employ more than 250 people.

Joy Campbell, 691-7299,