First Citrus Bank recently reached a milestone in its 20-year history, surpassing $400 million in assets for the fourth quarter with earnings per share growth exceeding 50 percent for the fifth consecutive year.
The new earnings report, which shows a 13 percent increase over the same reporting period last year, possibly places First Citrus Bank in the top five of largest banks by asset in the Tampa Bay area.
Chief Executive Officer and President Jack Barrett believes it’s the first of many milestones to come for the Tampa-based bank.
“We’re getting a tremendous amount of new deposit business in our organization and that’s our inventory. When we receive those deposit accounts, we’re better able to democratize that capital … better than any other institutions because we’re the only bank that routinely lends 100 percent of our deposits throughout town,” Barrett said.
First Citrus ranked No. 6 as of June 30, 2018, according to Tampa Bay Business Journal research, reporting $358.4 million in total assets.
Overall, the community bank’s fourth-quarter results showed increases across the board, with net income at $3.9 million, or $2 per share, compared to $2.5 million for the same time last year. The bank’s loans grew to $312 million, up 9 percent from 2017, and demand deposits grew by 13 percent to $108.7 million.
Barrett cites the company’s personnel and hometown atmosphere as major contributors to its growth.
“We really just have the best complement of bankers I’ve ever worked with and I’ve been doing this for over 30 years all in Tampa Bay,” he said. “Plus, our culture is a bit of an anomaly because when you combine the best talent in the market with the First Citrus way, which is more of an upside down organizational chart where the CEO is on bottom and the client is on top ... it’s not surprising that our stock is the fourth best performing regional bank stock in the Southeast.”
First Citrus Bancorporation opened in Tampa in 1999 with what Barrett describes as “the youngest management team” in the area. He sees the bank’s future as one that will continue to help the Tampa Bay area thrive as its population and commercial real estate continue to grow.
Migratory inflows, customized engagement with customers and access to decision-makers looking to design a specific financial plan for an individual or small business have kept First Citrus moving upward, he said.
“That’s a big deal for a lot of people because it’s still a face-to-face model that we’re thriving on,” he added.
The bank’s persistent growth, Barrett believes, will continue into 2019, despite the banking and financial industry’s cautious optimism for the new year as the Fed is expected to raise interest rates several times. He expects First Citrus to come close to hitting the $500 million in assets mark for the year.
“Anything can make sense with the right borrowers, the right structure, with the right capitalization and the right market,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of momentum in our community of west central Florida and Tampa Bay going for us.”
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