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Tampa bank division embarks on community association expansion

American Momentum Bank plans to target Texas first, then other areas of the country, in an effort to gain more property management clients.


American Momentum Bank at 5540 Fruitville Road, Sarasota.
American Momentum Bank at 5540 Fruitville Road, Sarasota.
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After several years of success close to home, a bank division based in Tampa plans to expand its efforts to reach property managers beyond Florida.

American Momentum Bank, headquartered in Texas, launched an association banking division eight years ago in Florida to serve large residential property managers in the Sunshine State, which is home to the second most community associations in the country after California.

Since its inception in 2016, the association banking division has gained more than 1,400 association clients and $230 million of related deposits in Florida. 

“American Momentum is not a mega bank. We’re not a large bank with hundreds of retail locations to grow deposits from, but we are very aggressive commercial lenders…[and] we’ve identified association deposits are an excellent way to fund the bank’s loans,” American Momentum Director of Association Banking Heather Karamitsos says. “Because this basically is our strategic plan for growing deposits, the bank has committed the people, the tools and the resources that we need to make this expansion successful.”

After gaining traction in the Florida market, the team recently hired two bankers in Texas, which has more than 21,000 associations and $4 billion in related deposits.

“We will expand in Texas much more in the coming years,” says Karamitsos, a senior vice president at the bank who is based in Tampa but plans to relocate to New England as the division expands. "With Texas being our headquarters, we certainly want to develop [association banking] there.”

Heather Karamitsos is the director of association banking and the senior vice president of American Momentum Bank.

The association banking division will focus its business development efforts on Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. 

The goal is to “match what we did in Florida," says Karamitsos. 

But the company is not stopping at Texas. In fact, the two salespeople hired in Texas also have client bases in Utah, California, Florida and New England, according to Karamitsos, who says those are places American Momentum Bank wants to explore, too.

“We have identified many markets we want to target such as New England, Washington state, Colorado, Michigan [and] Minnesota,” based on in-depth market analysis, Karamitsos says.

“California is the largest market in the U.S. for associations. And while the market is oversaturated, we are definitely interested in doing business there,” she adds. “We’re really basing our focus more on attracting the right outstanding talent.”


Small but mighty

Currently the association banking division team at American Momentum Bank has four salespeople and two direct operational support persons as well as 10 to 12 people "behind the scenes," according to Karamitsos.

“We’ve got over 70 years of experience on the association side and 30 years of property software experience on our team today. So we sound small, but we are extremely mighty,” Karamitsos says.

The goal is to add two more salespeople in early 2025, which is no easy task. 

“We’ve realized how difficult it is to find association bankers,” Karamitsos says. “It's just not something that is a niche across banks everywhere. So our strategy is really not so much the geographic side as the right person.” 

Association banking is one of several niches for American Momentum Bank. The bank, which has $2.6 billion in assets, also has an SBA lending division and commercial real estate lending niche. 

The association banking division offers various deposit products, specialized lending programs for capital improvements and insurance premium financing.

One thing that will help it stand out as it enters new markets is its personal touch, Karamitsos believes. 

“For a small bank, we have all the technology of a big bank. And we have something they don’t have: We have true private banking customer service,” Karamitsos says. “Our clients have our cell phone numbers.”

Many larger banks filter customers through 800 numbers and automated systems, making it difficult to reach a person on the other end of the line.

American Momentum offers a “private banking touch,” Karamitsos says. “If they need us to be on a call with a board member at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., we’re there.”

Particularly with property management companies, which have “so many different parts” and a “difficult job,” she says it helps to have an association banker who can act as a single point of contact.

“That is not the same kind of service that a lot of these larger banks provide,” Karamitsos says. “And in the underserved markets, really the larger banks have been their only option.”


Invested in expansion

American Momentum Bank is investing in the expansion of its association banking division as part of its strategic plan.

“Most banks are challenged to grow deposits at a reasonable interest rate these days," Karamitsos says. "That’s certainly our challenge as well. Our strategy is to grow the association banking division because it’s an excellent source for sticky deposits."

American Momentum Bank, headquartered in College Station, Texas, has 18 full-service banking centers in Texas and nine in Florida.

The association banking division is following a three-year plan, Karamitsos says, with the goal of having eight salespeople in place by the end of 2026.

Says Karamitsos: "The long-term goal would be that we’re just not going to stop growing."

 

author

Elizabeth King

Elizabeth is a business news reporter with the Business Observer, covering primarily Sarasota-Bradenton, in addition to other parts of the region. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she previously covered hyperlocal news in Maryland for Patch for 12 years. Now she lives in Sarasota County.

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