By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read April 2020 — Over the last few years, consolidation and mergers and acquisitions have dominated the banking industry. In Florida, as the population continues to grow and the financial sector diversifies further, the Palm Beach market remains vital for banks looking to grow their operations in the state. With the recent acquisition of First Bank of the Palm Beaches, Seacoast Bank is positioning itself to take full advantage of the opportunities within the Palm Beach market. In an interview with Invest: Palm Beach, Regional Market President Chuck Cross talks about the strength of the Palm Beach market, the evolution of the banking sector and his outlook for the industry during an economic downturn.

How did Seacoast Bank perform in 2019?

Seacoast Bank once again delivered a record-breaking financial performance in 2019, propelled by a balanced growth strategy. We combined solid, organic growth with smart acquisitions and careful cost control that enabled us to outperform our peers. Seacoast Bank produced double-digit growth and net revenues of $297.8 million. Overall, Seacoast Bank’s goals are focused on growth and Palm Beach County is an important contributor to that growth. Our recent acquisition of First Bank of the Palm Beaches increases our presence in the county from six to eight branches and grows our total deposits to $821 million. When you consider the strength and overall growth of the economy in Palm Beach County, we see the demand for banking services increasing. We are well-positioned to service that growth in Palm Beach County.

How has the banking sector evolved over the last couple of years?

The banking sector has seen a lot of consolidation in the last 10 years, and I think we will continue to see that. Customers are looking for more ways to bank remotely. As banks compete for customers, it is likely they will increase the number of products and services available in their remote channels. The key for a successful merger and acquisition is to integrate and consolidate well and to win over the hearts of acquired customers by providing the convenient products and services of larger banks, but with the personalized attention of a hometown community bank.

What can be done to level the playing field when it comes to credit unions?

The Florida Bankers Association has pushed for legislation to close the loopholes for the mega credit union, those with over $1 billion in assets, and to impose CRA requirements and corporate taxes. Today, there are more than 360 credit unions with more than $1 billion in assets. The majority of credit unions still live up to the intent of the legislation, as they are small and focused, but some of them have grown and may not fit the original intent of the law.

How do you see the banking industry performing during an economic downturn?

The banking industry is federally regulated to make sure that banks remain solvent even in a downturn. Since the last downturn, the Florida banking industry has undergone major consolidation. The winners will be those that manage to deliver the services and technologies that the big banks are known for while still maintaining the high standards of personalized customer services that we all know and love in the community banking environment.

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:https://www.seacoastbank.com/