Since falling under a Consent Order issued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in February 2012, Statesboro-based Farmers & Merchants Bank has made significant strides in addressing regulator concerns and returning to profitability.
In a recent letter to shareholders, bank president and CEO Brett Morgan cited many of the areas in which the bank has seen improvement.
"We are pleased with overall improvement in virtually all categories that we monitor, but our greatest improvement has been in the following areas," Morgan said. "We have experienced an overall improvement in credit quality with three consecutive quarters of decline in our Non Performing Assets (Other Real Estate / Foreclosed Properties & Non Accrual Loans), plus a three year low in past due loans over 30 days delinquent.
"The decline in problem assets and improvement in credit quality has been accomplished with the bank being profitable in the first and second quarter of 2013. Our stable core deposits and interest margin are positioning the bank for future consistent profitability."
Morgan came to Farmers & Merchants a year ago with a wealth of experience, including 33 years with First Alabama Bancshares/Regions Bank in southern Alabama before moving to Carrollton, Ga., to ultimately serve as CEO of First Georgia Banking Company.
With its experienced and well respected CEO Ricky Nessmith preparing for retirement, FMB turned to Morgan to take the helm for the next several years.
"I have now been with FMB for one year as of early August and we have made substantial improvement in many financial categories," Morgan said. "I am most pleased with our officers and staff for their support and focus on multiple objectives; primarily our continued focus on quality customer service and the importance of our role as the only independent locally owned financial institution in Bulloch County.
"Ricky and I have worked well together in our management transition and his support and guidance has been invaluable. We are pleased he will remain on our Board following his retirement."
In addition, the bank recently hired veteran banker and lender Cliff Wildes who has joined the bank as senior vice president for business banking.
"We have actively been pursuing new loan opportunities and the addition of Cliff reinforces our plan to increase our share of business and commercial banking in the Statesboro/Bulloch market area," Morgan said.
Morgan said leadership within the bank has been the key to its recent success.
"The leadership of Dwayne Rocker, our chief financial officer, and Anna Swicord, our chief lending officer, in their respective areas of responsibility of the bank have been invaluable as we transition and begin to focus on planning for the future," he said. "The work and focus of our officers and employees has been outstanding as we continue to improve our overall financial performance as we recover from the recent recession."