First Financial Accelerates Branch Optimization Plans to Meet Customer Preferences


First Financial has announced plans to optimize its network of banking centers as part of plans to improve operational efficiency and meet customer demand.

Over the next two quarters, the company plans to close and consolidate nine of its 81 branches. This follows the consolidation of its Terre Haute Maple Avenue and Plaza North branches into a new facility at Lafayette Avenue and Forst Horrison Road earlier this year.

Norman L. Lowery, President of First Financial, said: “Our customers are rapidly adopting our online banking platforms, which allows us to consolidate these branches into other nearby locations while maintaining the high level of service our customers have come to expect.

Branch optimization is expected to save First Financial approximately $ 2.3 million per year in operating expenses, starting in the first quarter of 2022.

Meanwhile, SmartBank has entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Virginia-based First Bank to sell its portfolio of loans and assets in Richmond.

Under the agreement, First Bank will acquire $ 83 million in loans and all fixed assets related to the bank’s branch in Richmond. First Bank will also take over the lease for the facilities and SmartBank employees will also transition.

Billy Caroll, President and CEO of SmartBank, said: “While we recognize the opportunity in the Richmond market area, we felt there was a need to focus on our footprint in the South East and in particular on the new markets that we have added with our recent elevators. .

“We have tremendous momentum with our recently announced team hires in Auburn, Dothan, Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama, and we want to focus our expansion efforts there. “

The sale of the loans and certain assets to First Bank has been completed, while the lease and acquisition of the remaining assets by First Bank is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter.

The branch will continue to operate as a SmartBank branch until the branch closes on December 31, 2021.


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