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VOL. 6 | NO. 18 | Saturday, April 27, 2013

Metropolitan Bank Still Growing 5 Years In

By Andy Meek

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Metropolitan Bank has come a long way in five short years. Since being founded amid the worst financial crisis in the U.S. in generations, the bank – which in March celebrated its fifth birthday – has grown its assets from $243 million at the end of 2008 to $722 million at the end of 2012.

The bank is co-headquartered in Memphis and Ridgeland, Miss., outside Jackson. In Mississippi, Metropolitan has grown from $89 million in deposits in 2008 to $192 million at the end of 2012.

The bank saw total earnings growth between January and March of 43 percent – the 14th straight quarter Metropolitan enjoyed an earnings boost. Metropolitan also is continuing to staff up its still relatively new Nashville office – in a market which Metropolitan CEO Curt Gabardi sees as ripe with potential – and the bank is bursting at the seams at its two Memphis locations.

Gabardi, who promised more news on that local growth front soon, also said the bank just made a new hire in its commercial banking group, with Mike Newsome joining as a managing director in the past couple of weeks. He moved to Metropolitan from First Tennessee Bank.

“I don’t think we could be more proud of where we are today, in terms of the ‘day one’ passion we maintain,” said Gabardi, a former West Tennessee president for Regions Bank. “It’s reflected in our underlying financials. We’re continuing to put a stake in the ground around talent.

“I don’t think we could be more proud of where we are today, in terms of the ‘day one’ passion we maintain.”

– Curt Gabardi, CEO, Metropolitan Bank

“Memphis is a tough market, but we have worked to earn a very respectable reputation. And that can be seen in the clients we’ve been able to attract. We’re somewhere between hyper and obsessed about our clients.”

Metropolitan’s loans have been growing at about 15 percent on an annual basis, but Gabardi is quick to point out that while it’s trying to grow market share, it’s also trying to grow the right share.

Eventually, the hope is for Metropolitan to top $1 billion in assets.

As of the most recent ranking of Memphis-area banks by customer deposit share by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Metropolitan Bank squeaked into the top 10 by landing at ninth place. That list was current as of June 2012.

That’s up three slots from 2011, when Metropolitan was ranked No. 12 by Memphis-area deposit share on the FDIC list.

Technology offerings are important to Metropolitan, which has a mobile banking product that includes SMS text banking and mobile banking for all account holders across the iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms.

Nashville also is important. Gabardi said the bank started making money within nine months of opening an office there and that it will be a significant earnings contributor to the company in 2013.

Metropolitan’s efforts in Nashville are led by Bill Menkel, who has three decades of banking experience.

Highlights for Metropolitan in 2012 included opening a new headquarters building in Ridgeland and expanding its presence in Nashville with an office in Brentwood, and there are plans for an office to open in Nashville’s West End area in 2013.

Metropolitan currently operates seven full-service banking offices in Mississippi and Tennessee.

The bank’s earnings power is all the more impressive considering recent investments such as this: In 2012, the bank spent almost $2 million on its team expansion.

Its range of financial products and services include personal and business transaction accounts, online and mobile banking and bill payment, mortgages, home equity lines of credit, construction, commercial and consumer financing, and more.

“We’ve been unwavering from our original plan,” said Metropolitan’s Memphis president Phillip May.

Demonstrating the current headwinds facing the banking industry as a whole, May added, “Every bank right now is looking for cheap deposits and good loans. So we’re trying to play a very balanced game.”

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