Sensing an opening closer to the ocean, a Richmond-based bank is in the early stages of an expansion plan in the Hampton Roads market.
Virginia Commonwealth Bank is on the hunt for branch locations on the Southside section of Hampton Roads and has, for the first time, hired a market president to oversee its push there.
Chairman Frank Scott said it is looking to take advantage of rampant consolidation in recent years that has stripped the market of many of its smaller, so-called community banks.
“The market has changed so much, we feel there’s a void and we feel we can fill it,” Scott said.
To lead that charge, VCB has brought on Hampton Roads banking veteran Ed Putney as its new market head. Putney, a University of Richmond grad, was most recently with TowneBank, following time at Monarch Bank, Bank of Hampton Roads and its predecessor Gateway Bank.
The bank names on Putney’s resume illustrate the churn of consolidation that has reshaped the banking market in Hampton Roads in recent years. Bank of Hampton Roads is no more, after joining forces with Xenith Bank, which has since been acquired by Union Bank & Trust. Monarch Bank was absorbed by TowneBank, which is the deposit leader in the Hampton Roads market. Others such as Heritage Bank and Bank @lantec have since been absorbed.
Aside from Towne and Union, the only other smaller regional bank with a sizable presence there is Hampton-based Old Point National Bank.
“The community banking landscape down here is a lot different, particularly in the last two or three years,” Putney said. “I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity.”
The bank detailed some of its logic for the expansion in a recent investor slideshow, which stated it can serve the entire Hampton Roads market with three to five branches.
Scott said the bank is negotiating on a loan production office in Virginia Beach and looking for potentially two branches in the market in the second half of 2018 or early 2019. It’s interested in busier thoroughfares, such as the Town Center and Hilltop areas of Virginia Beach and the Greenbrier section of Chesapeake.
Those outposts would add to a longtime VCB branch in Suffolk, which Scott said the bank has had for 25-30 years.
“We’ve had an outlier branch in Suffolk and we kept it open through the recession thinking that when things turned it would be an opportunity to move further into the Virginia Beach region,” he said.
Scott and Putney said the bank will go after commercial loans, commercial real estate loans and small business clients, as well as residential mortgages and wealth management in its new territory.
The expansion is another example of VCB wielding its newfound larger stature after its 2017 merger with Bank of Lancaster that has it approaching $1 billion in assets and helped it lure talent from competitors. It also raised $35 million in new capital last year. Its current branch network consists of 18 locations spanning Richmond and the Tri-Cities across to the Northern Neck.