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Big-time asset goal within reach

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  • | 11:00 a.m. December 11, 2015
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The billion-dollar asset mark in banking is increasingly being recognized as an industry threshold: Get over it, and a bank can survive, thrive and even buy some other banks. Stay under it, and the bank becomes an acquisition target or runs into capital issues under increasingly stringent government regulations.

It's under that backdrop Sarasota-based Gateway Bank of Southwest Florida President and CEO Shaun Merriman recently took on an expanded role within his company. Merriman is now also CEO of Gateway Financial Holdings of Florida, the holding company that oversees Gateway Bank of Southwest Florida and two other Gateways, one based in Ocala and the other in Daytona Beach. “We need to become a $1 billion bank,” Merriman tells Coffee Talk.

Gateway Financial is about three-fourths of the way there, with $750 million in assets. The Gateway Bank Merriman oversees, with three branches in the Sarasota-Manatee market, has $264 million in assets and has had one of its all-time best years in terms of loan growth. The strong year comes from both the rebound in the economy and a concentrated effort to hire loan officers and support staff to meet demand, says Merriman, who founded the bank in 2008.

Merriman says one of the key parts of his new role with the holding company will be to help guide all three Gateways through the complicated regulatory challenges. There are still elements of Dodd-Frank that haven't been implemented yet, and new accounting standards will be in play next year. “It's a juggling act,” Merriman says. “You have to be mindful of so many things today.”

He will also help Gateway Financial Holdings find ways to consolidate services without sacrificing service. “We need to do everything we can to improve margins and operating efficiencies,” says Merriman, echoing the goals of community bankers statewide.


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