All sorts of banking options available in Gainesville

There are all sorts of financial institutions in Gainesville, happy to take deposits, fund loans and rent out their safety deposit boxes for the convenience of customers.

Lumping all the different types of banking facilities into a single category can be confusing, and incorrect. From small to large, the banks and savings and loans that blanket Gainesville are as varied as the names above the front door.

The largest financial institutions in the nation are commonly referred to as money center banks. These humongous banks are primarily headquartered in financial centers, like New York, San Francisco, Charlotte and London. They make much of their revenue and profit from investment banking activities, as opposed to commercial banking operations, according to a local banking expert.

The next level of service and function falls to regional banks. These financial institutions are really big, as well. BBVA Compass, with five area locations is a good example of a regional bank.

Rafael Bustillo, the chief operating officer for BBVA Compass was in town recently and helped define the bank’s presence in Gainesville and Alachua County.

“We have 45 branches in Florida, most in the panhandle, and we see very good growth in Florida,” Bustillo said. BBVA Compass first acquired Gainesville State Bank in 1998 and has had a continued presence since then. The bank group has $85 billion in assets and does business in seven states, stretching from California to Florida.

Bustillo forecasts a rosy outlook for the Gainesville economy.

“Gainesville GDP is projected to grow 50 percent faster than the rest of the U.S. market. The national economy is projected to grow at a 2.4 percent rate this year and Gainesville’s growth rate is projected at 3.6 percent, according to BBVA economists.

Bustillo defined BBVA Compass as a traditional bank, primarily involved in deposit and loan activities. “Our loans are asset sensitive with floating rates tied to prime rate and LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate),” he stated.

BBVA Compass has a different approach to fees, focused on a growing client base and not on consumer fees, Bustillo explained.

“We offer free checking accounts and process transactions in real time for checks and deposits” he added.

Clearly, technology is a central part of any large bank’s operation. “I can’t think of any other banks doing real time processing,” Bustillo said and feels that is a huge advantage when trying to lure younger customers to the bank.

“Millennials are used to having immediacy and have a why wait until tomorrow expectation for transactions,’ he adds.

The BBVA Compass mobile application has also been ranked as the top banking app for mobile devices by Money Magazine and Javelin, an authority on technology.

Another category that banks like to self-define is called local or community banks. Gateway Bank, headquartered in Gainesville, considers itself a local bank in every aspect.

Gateway Bank of Central Florida, a part of Gateway Financial Holdings of Florida, Inc., has offices in Gainesville, Ocala and Alachua and considers itself a community bank.

“We are local by any definition,” Gateway president Danny Gilliland states.

The three banks under the umbrella of Gateway Financial Holdings each operate with a separate state charter. “We started nine years ago and we operate autonomously,” Gilliland adds. “This is where our decisions are made”

Operating with a local charter, the Gainesville Gateway bank makes its own decisions about loans, deposits and how to treat customers, Gilliland stated.

“A customer walks into my office and I have the authority to make decisions,” Gilliland adds. “There isn’t an 800 number that the customers have to call.”

When asked about the additional regulations that came after the banking crisis of 2008, Gilliland stated that the regulations have created a huge amount of additional work with compliance issues.

“Without a doubt, the Dodd-Frank federal legislation ramped up compliance issues,” he added.

Gilliland explained that banks the size of Gateway have lots of additional work, but his company is able to handle the workload and the three banks within the holding company do share some resources for regulatory compliance.

A third type of banking institution that serves Gainesville area consumers is credit unions. Florida Credit Union is headquartered in Gainesville.

A credit union is a form of financial cooperative that is owned by the depositors of the institution. A credit union doesn’t have a typical capital structure; there is no owner’s equity and it is regulated by the National Credit Union Association.

The NCUA operates very similarly to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FDIC, that regulates and insures banks.

Beyond that difference, credit unions operate very much like consumer banks, accepting deposits and making loans, according to Chris Clore, marketing director for Florida Credit Union.

Florida Credit Union started out as the Alachua County Teachers’ Credit Union in 1954 and now serves over 66,000 members in 27 north and central Florida counties.

“We feel that we are truly local,” Clore states.

“We know the market, the people and our loan committee is made up from local people – and Gainesville is the headquarters,” she adds.

In order to make deposits or borrow money from a credit union, the customer must be a member of the credit union.

“You have to be a member,” Clore states “but as long as they live or work in the market, they can become a member”

Credit unions offer all the services that community banks offer, including mobile banking, state-of-the-art software and real time processing of data.

“We are open until 8 and if you make a deposit at 8 pm, it shows up in your account at 8”, she states.

The credit union also offers all the financial services that consumers expect, including deposits, consumer loans, mortgage and home equity loans and commercial loans.

Florida Credit Union has 10 locations and $800 million in assets.

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