Southern First Bank continues record-setting run with 2018 Q2 earnings

Art Seaver, CEO of Southern First Bank. Photo by Will Crooks.

Despite increasing competition throughout the region, Greenville’s Southern First Bank continued to generate record earnings in the first half of the year.

Southern First Bancshares Inc., the holding company for Southern First Bank, reported its latest earnings results earlier this week, posting a 53 percent increase in net income during the second quarter of 2018.

The bank said its net income to common shareholders increased to $5.5 million, or 71 cents per diluted share, from $3.6 million, or 49 cents per diluted share, during the same period last year. Its net income increased 68 percent to $5.2 million, or 67 cents per diluted share, during the first quarter of 2018.

For the six months ended June 30, Southern First said its net income was $10.7 million, or $1.39 per diluted share, a nearly 60 percent increase compared with $6.7 million, or 95 cents per diluted share, during the same period last year.

Southern First said its total revenue increased more than 16 percent to $17.4 million during the second quarter, compared with $14.9 million the year before.

Among other quarterly highlights:

  • Gross loans increased almost 18 percent to $1.53 billion during the quarter, compared with $1.3 billion during the same quarter a year ago.
  • Total deposits increased 21 percent to $1.57 billion during the quarter, compared with $1.3 billion during the same quarter a year ago.
  • Total core deposits, which exclude out-of-market deposits and time deposits of $250,000 or more, increased to $1.34 billion during the second quarter of 2018.
  • Total shareholder equity was $160.9 million for the quarter, compared with $142.7 million during the same quarter a year ago.

“I am incredibly proud of the talent and unique culture of our team as we generated record earnings,” Southern First CEO Art Seaver said. “We continue to see strong momentum in terms of core deposits, loans, and mortgage income.”

‘Humble beginnings’

Seaver, who has more than 25 years of commercial banking experience in the Upstate, established Southern First in 2000 with $11.5 million in capital from about 400 investors throughout the Greenville community.

Southern First has since become the third-largest bank headquartered in South Carolina, with nine offices in the Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston markets.

“We have always been proud of our humble beginnings and built our bank on the value of serving others,” Seaver told the Upstate Business Journal during a recent interviewThe community recognizes our bankers as supporting the Greenville community as our mission continues to be ‘impacting lives in the communities we serve.’”

In Greenville County, Southern First ranks fifth in deposit market share, according to the latest data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The bank trails only its largest competitors — Wells Fargo, Bank of America, BB&T Corp., and TD Bank.

With more than 30 banks operating in Greenville, Southern First has distinguished itself with a relationship-driven approach to banking, according to Seaver.

“The banking market has always been competitive and always will be,” Seaver said“Our bank is laser-focused on the client experience and understands that clients appreciate consistency, professionalism, accessibility, simplicity, competitiveness, and the peace of mind that their banker will be there tomorrow.”

Seaver added that his company’s focus on customer service has maintained over the years thanks to its adoption of a unique expansion philosophy that emphasizes the recruitment of veteran bankers who know their markets and can bring longtime clients with them.

Since opening, Southern First has not only expanded into other markets in South Carolina but also opened a number of offices in North Carolina and Georgia. The bank began doing business outside of South Carolina for the first time in 2016 with the opening of an office in Raleigh, N.C. It has since opened offices in Atlanta and Greensboro, N.C.

“Our expansion philosophy has always been — right market, right time, but only with the right bankers,” Seaver said. “We are always building relationships with talented bankers and have added several over the past year in every one of our markets.”

Seaver pointed to the Southern First office in Greensboro as a prime example of his expansion philosophy at work.

The office is led by a group of executives with more than 70 years of combined experience in the Triad market. That includes Executive Vice President Joe DePasquale, who previously led Southern First Bank’s commercial lending and financial services team, as well as Melissa Beane, senior vice president, and Justin Combs, senior vice president.

“Joe, Melissa, and Justin are first great people who happen to be great bankers with a significant client following,” Seaver said. “They are off to a great start and part of the reason that our company is growing faster today than ever before.”

Southern First’s assets increased more than 16 percent to $1.79 million during the second quarter of 2018, from $1.54 million during the same period a year ago. As of July 26, the bank’s shares were priced at $44.20 apiece.

Seaver said his company is poised for even more growth in the coming years.

“It took our company about 14 years to reach $1 billion in size. We will reach $2 billion in less than four years later, so our momentum in growing client relationships has never been stronger,” Seaver said. “We have made significant investments in the future, and Southern First is uniquely positioned for success in the future.”

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