Home Equity
Debt Consolidation
Home Purchase
Home - Other News Articles

New names, old banks

Refinance & Save!
Lower Your Mortgage Payments.
Bad Credit OK

Home Equity Loans
Get up to 125% of home value.
Fast & Easy.

Consolidate Your Debt
Pay Off Bills
& Lower Your Payments

Want to Purchase a Home?
Get Approved Now!
By Marilyn Odendahl
November 02, 2005

Three area banks change as part of recent mergers

Standard Federal Bank has changed its name to LaSalle Bank; Bank One is changing its name to Chase; and First National Bank of Fremont will be changing its name to Farmers State Bank.

Three area banks are undergoing name changes as a part of mergers. The new names for Bank One and Standard Federal are the result of large banks merging with larger banks, while the new name for small community bank First National, based in Steuben County, comes from its merger with another community bank, Farmers, headquartered in LaGrange County.

Officials at the banks tout the benefits brought by the mergers, giving their customers such things as access to wider networks of ATMs and more options regarding online banking, investing and borrowing.

"We've got the same people in front of the customer serving their needs," said Dan Oakley, Chase market president for northern Indiana. "Only now, we've got more resources behind them."

Both Bank One and Standard Federal are being rebranded to the name of the larger bank. Bank One officially merged into JPMorgan Chase in July 2004 and since April 2005, has been changing the signs on its branches in 14 states. Indiana's 185 Bank One branches are getting Chase signs this month as a part of the $200 million being spent for the new signs nationwide.

The LaSalle Bank signs have already been placed at the Standard Federal branches.

"It must makes very, very good sense to continue our expansion and continue our growth under one brand," said Robert Darmanin, vice president and director of corporate communications at LaSalle Bank Midwest N.A.

As the number of banks has shrunk from 12,000 to fewer than 7,000 within the last 20 years, some worry the mergers are removing competition in the marketplace.

"I'm not sure I agree with that," countered Lane David, assistant professor of economics at Indiana University South Bend. "While the number of banks has gone down, the number of branches has ballooned."

The growing number of branches is driven by customer demand, according to Nancy Norris, vice president of media relations for Chase. She explained that even with the rise of telephone banking, online banking and direct deposit, customers want to meet personally with a bank officer when applying for a loan.

Indeed, to accommodate customers' need for face-to-face meetings, the former Bank One branch on old U.S. 20 is being changed from a drive-through to a full-service office.

Banks treating customers like people and not account numbers is a point of concern for large banks and may be an area where small banks have the advantage. David said small banks tend to be more willing to lend to small businesses and homeowners that large banks do not typically loan to. This is because, in part, managers of the small banks are in the local community and know the customers whereas the managers of the large banks must follow policy set at corporate headquarters.

Calling his bank a "community bank with a heart," Joe Pierce, president and chief executive officer at Farmers, echoed David's statements regarding local decision making.

"I doubt the CEO of Wells Fargo (Bank) has visited Fremont, Ind.," Pierce said. "It's better dealing with someone who understands the community."

On the other hand, David said, larger banks can offer a wider range of services. For example, Oakley said the merger with Chase has given customers of the former Bank One more than 30 mortgage choices.

The mergers and name changes of Bank One, Standard Federal and First National will bring little or no inconvenience to the customers, said Oakley, Darmanin and Pierce. The customers can continuing using their particular bank's checks, credit cards and debit cards until they need replacements, at which time the items will come with the new bank's name and logo.

What are people saying about mortgages today:

Rates on 30-year mortgages edged down last week to a seven-month low. Mortgage-giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 6.3 percent, down slightly from 6.31 percent two weeks ago. It put rates at the lowest level since they were at 6.24 percent the first week of March.

Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank, Territorial Savings Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgages all cut their 30-year mortgage rates to 5.75 percent this week.

Most people think of a mortgage as a means to an end. After all, you buy a house, not a home loan. But a mortgage is much more than the path to homeownership. It is a financial instrument that must be managed, just like any other financial investment.