Founded in Statesboro in 1901, Sea Island Bank will be rebranded as Synovus in 2018.
Synovus Chairman/CEO Kessel Stelling made the announcement last week as part of the company's annual report, which was published in March. Synovus acquired Sea Island Bank in 1991.
After Georgia banking laws changed in the 1970s, then Synovus CEO Jimmy Blanchard began acquiring banks, building a portfolio of strong, local banks. Currently, Synovus operates 28 locally branded banks. Seven, including Sea Island, were founded more than a century ago.
One of the early decisions Stelling made after becoming chairman/CEO of Synovus was to consolidate all bank division charters into a single charter and that was accomplished in June 2010.
"At that time Synovus had 30 charters which meant the organization was regulated and monitored by seven different federal and state government agencies," said Lee Underwood with Synovus Corporate Communications.
"Managing these relationships, all with different sets of expectations, took considerable time and resources and distracted bankers from focusing on the core business," Underwood said. "Consolidating charters allowed the company to better manage capital and cash flow, simplify regulatory complexity and minimize risk around banking practices."
The rebranding seems to be a natural next step since the 2010 consolidation of charters. I discussed what this rebranding means for Sea Island with Darron Burnette, longtime president of the Statesboro bank who became Synovus Division CEO back in February:
Q: When will Sea Island Bank change its name to Synovus?
A: Sea Island Bank customers are already using Synovus-branded cards, ATMs, and mobile banking apps - so the name will be familiar to many of them. As for signage and other customer-facing name changes, specific timing in 2018 is being mapped out as we focus on near-term steps to ensure customers have a consistent banking experience during the transition. But customers can be assured we'll move carefully to ensure they are well informed about the name change - and that nothing about their relationship with our bank will change. All to say that we'll have more details about signage changes as we move through this year.
Q: What else is changing?
A: Nothing else. Only the name. We will still be the same local team, with the same local leadership, relationships and commitment to making Statesboro America's best community that our customers have known and expected. That will always be the priority - after we return from Denver (next week) and after our name changes to Synovus.
Q. Why are you doing this?
A: This transition will help us more clearly communicate to customers and prospects all of the capabilities of our bank. There's really not a consumer, business, or larger corporate banking need we can't meet - but some see us as only a community bank; and while they want the relationships, they need more scale and capabilities, especially in larger corporate and commercial lending areas and with investments and financial planning expertise. We are perfectly positioned to deliver to every customer with any need on any scale. Additionally, customers need to know and be able to bank easily and consistently with us regardless of where they are - whether at our 248 locations, 328 ATMs, or through our digital channels. Some simply aren't aware we're able to serve them in so many other markets across the Southeast.
Q: Will there be some formal announcement when the name officially changes?
A: We will communicate the exact dates of sign changes in our markets later this year, but the general timeline is 2018, which, again, will be done gradually, not as a one-time event. More importantly, we continue to take steps inside the company every single day to improve our customer's experiences and attract new customers to our kind of capable, personal, relationship banking.
In the annual report, Stelling set the stage for this rebranding.
"Synovus bank divisions are united by a culture based on long-standing values - strong and caring leadership, trusting relationships, dedication to communities and excellence in all we do - that transcend history, geography and brand. This culture assimilated more than 60 acquisitions over the past 40 years and remains the cornerstone of our company today. It saw us through the financial crisis with team members, customers, and community members who relied on us. And it continues to determine every aspect of the way we run our business, including our ability to deliver solid results."