Huntington Bank aims to expand its commercial banking footprint into the Carolinas to gain market share in the region with high deposit levels, CEO Steve Steinour said Wednesday.
The Columbus, Ohio-based lender has had a commercial banking presence in Charlotte for nearly a decade. Now, it plans to add teams of experienced bankers who will create relationships with customers to in turn bring capital and liquidity, Steinour said while speaking at the Goldman Sachs financial services conference in New York City.
“We have been interested in doing more. The ability at this stage when other banks may be doing cost programs or reductions, or have a limited appetite for risk-weighted asset growth for capital or other reasons — this is a window,” Steinour said. “This is a bit of a contrarian play, but we believe it's a very unique window. We've been gearing the company for outperformance and recession for 14 years, and with the strong capital, excellent liquidity, the capabilities of the team, the credit performance, this is our time to move, and we intend to do it throughout 24 as well.”
The five regions the executive mentioned include Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Triad region, upstate South Carolina and coastal South Carolina.
The lender's expansion in the Carolinas will be primarily commercial with middle market, corporate and specialty banking capabilities. In addition to treasury management and capital markets, Huntington plans to add to its existing regional banking teams, Small Business Administration practice finance and specialty banking teams, Steinour noted.
The $187 billion asset bank has added new verticals to its specialty banking, including a healthcare asset-based lending specialty banking group. The move would help to strengthen the bond with existing customers while attracting new ones, Steinour said.
Huntington also recently added a Native American financial service group with a plan to grow deposits and loans in treasury management and capital markets.
“These additions reflect our continued goal to add one to two new verticals annually. And while the timing and pace [are] dependent on identifying the right teams, the right people, in the current challenging environment, we see opportunities to accelerate our investment and growth,” Steinour said.
Southeastern growth is a popular prospect for banks of late. In May, TD announced its plans to open 150 branches by 2027 and double its hiring of wealth advisors. The lender's executives outlined areas they want to focus on – South Florida, Atlanta and North Carolina. Though the bank has already opened locations in each area this year, it plans to add 13 more branches by the end of 2023.
“Think Boston, Philly, New York, where we think there are expanding communities, growing communities where we'll lean into,” Leo Salom, TD's U.S. CEO, told Reuters in May. “The Southeast is going to be a very important part of the overall equation.”
Meanwhile, Bank of America wants to open branches in nine new markets and four new states in a multiyear retail banking expansion, including Nebraska, Wisconsin, Alabama and Louisiana.
The smaller regional banks headquartered in the Midwest are heading toward the Southeast as well. Indiana-based First Financial agreed to buy Tennessee-based SimplyBank to grow its Southeast U.S. footprint.
Huntington's in-state rival Fifth Third has long planned to push south. Fifth Third CEO Tim Spence said last December that deposits in the Southeast were growing at a 7.3% annual clip, far surpassing its 2.4% Midwest growth rate. A January filing showed the bank's plan to open two branches in the Southeast this year.