U.S. banking companies shuttered more branches than they opened during the first quarter of 2014, according to market researcher SNL Financial of
The credit union's diverse loans and strong capital reserves have allowed it to put branches in locations where other banks have closed their doors, said First South chief executive officer
"I think of our
Esrael commented Tuesday at the
Although credit unions are regarded as small institutions, First South actually ranks 6th in asset size among the 30 financial institutions based in
Despite meager profits in some neighborhoods, First South is able to expand its branches. It can offset losses with more profitable lines of business throughout its market area. These include credit card, auto, mortgage, real estate and business lending.
In areas like
"We serve people that are extremely wealthy and people who don't have much," he said. "But my real satisfaction comes from serving those who don't have very much."
Since Esrael took the helm of what was then the financially crippled
The credit union is the second largest credit union in the region behind
Consumer lending insulated First South from the mortgage struggles that crippled many banks amid the 2008 financial crisis.
"We've seen tremendous growth on the consumer side," Esrael said. "Auto lending and credit cards are on fire and have experienced unprecedented growth in the last decade."
That strength allows the credit union to offer unique products like 10- to 12-year fixed mortgages with no closing costs or points, he said.
(c)2014 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)
Visit The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) at www.commercialappeal.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services