State banking industry reflects changes of the past two decades

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Print this page by Robert Powell

The landscape for banking in Virginia has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. The commonwealth once was home to a number of Virginia-based regional banks that were expanding into neighboring states and the District of Columbia.

Today, almost all of Virginia’s big banks have been acquired by larger companies. The exception is McLean-based Capital One Financial Corp., which has become the nation’s sixth largest bank in terms of deposits.
Virginia reflects the national scope of banking, with companies such as Charlotte-based Bank of America and San Francisco-based Wells Fargo having a major presence in the commonwealth.

Deposit information from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) offers an idea of the major players in the state. The data, however, are somewhat skewed at the top of the list. Capital One and E*Trade show up as having the highest totals for Virginia deposits. While they are based in Virginia and Capital One has a major banking presence in the Washington, D.C., area, the FDIC numbers also reflect online banking deposits.

The market share leaders are in the next group of national and regional banks. Wells Fargo, for example, has $29 billion in deposits in Virginia. It acquired Wachovia, a banking company based in North Carolina, in 2008 and changed the name on its Virginia branches in 2011.

Other major banks with substantial presence in the state include Bank of America, Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T Corp. and Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks.

(These banks also are among Virginia’s top Small Business Administration lenders along with Charlottesville-based StellarOne, Buffalo-based M&T Bank, Richmond-based Union First Market Bank, Suffolk-based TowneBank and McLean-based Sonabank.)

From SunTrust’s $17 billion in deposits, the FDIC list drops to the $3.5 billion in deposits held by the largest Virginia-based bank, Martinsville-based Carter Bank & Trust. Last year, it passed the previously biggest bank in Virginia, Union First Market Bank.

Despite their size, Carter Bank and Union First Market are considered community banks, a category loosely defined as locally owned and operated. Today, almost all Virginia-based banks are community banks.

Accepting deposits and making loans, however, is not solely the purview of commercial banks. Virginia also is home to Navy Federal Credit Union, the nation’s largest credit union with more than 4 million members and $51 billion in assets.

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