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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 3 weeks ago

Large Florida bank — sans branches — targets new part of region

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Seacoast Bank has spent four years or so on a Florida expansion march.

Seacoast Bank has spent four years or so on a Florida expansion march. First it went west, from the central east coast to Greater Orlando, then from there it headed farther west and south to Tampa Bay. In 2016 it acquired BMO Harris Bank’s 14 Orlando area branches. A year later it bought into the Tampa market, with acquisitions of GulfShore Bancshares and NorthStar Bank.

Now with $6.9 billion in assets and 48 branches, from Fort Lauderdale to Arcadia, Stuart-based Seacoast is one of the largest Florida-based community banks. Up next in Seacoast’s statewide expansion plans: Southwest Florida. The bank recently named 18-year Wells Fargo veteran banker Errol Howard senior vice president and regional commercial banking manager of the Fort Myers and Naples markets.

The move is smaller in scale than Orlando or Tampa — so far it’s just Howard, no branches. But it’s not any less strategic, in that the bank, Seacoast executives say, is chasing strong Southwest Florida economic indicators. Howard, who has worked in Southwest Florida twice before, in addition to a Pasco County stint for Barnett Bank in the late 1980s, says his first move will be to hire loan officers. The bank plans to go after clients in health care, professional services and construction, among other sectors.

“We acknowledge and recognize the challenges not having any branches or branding signage here presents,” Howard tells Coffee Talk. But he believes “the need for banking services in Southwest Florida will grow as the market” continues to rise.

Howard reports to Allen Brinkman, Seacoast market president for Tampa. Like Howard, Brinkman was formerly with Wells Fargo. Brinkman also oversaw the Tampa market for SunTrust for eight years. 

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