Fifth Third Bank incoming CEO talks Charlotte, N.C. growth


Tim Spence stated that North and South Carolina are the “single most important investment” in Fifth Third Bank’s Southeast growth. Spence will tackle the CEO title on the financial institution this summer time.

Courtesy of Fifth Third Bank

Tim Spence’s roots in North Carolina date again to his teen years, when he spent a summer time as a Senate web page on the state legislature in Raleigh.

Now, the present president at Fifth Third Bancorp is slated to take over a financial institution deepening its N.C. ties. In July, he’ll become CEO of the bank, changing retiring chief government Greg Carmichael.

The Cincinnati-based regional financial institution is North Carolina’s seventh largest by deposits, with 1.4% of the market right here. Beneath Spence’s watch, he stated, the quantity will develop.

“The Carolinas have been the largest investment and our single most important investment,” Spence stated, describing the financial institution’s growth within the Southeast.

Spence and regional president Lee Fite spoke with The Charlotte Observer Thursday in regards to the financial institution’s native development technique, long-term imaginative and prescient and why it’s nonetheless necessary to construct bodily branches in 2022.

Rising domestically

Fifth Third is quickly increasing by way of the Southeast, with North and South Carolina driving a lot of the expansion

Since 2018, the variety of Fifth Third branches within the states has elevated 50%, Spence stated, and the variety of workers within the Carolinas is up about 40%.

The speedy expansion includes Charlotte: the financial institution has added 10 new branches right here for the reason that starting of 2020, in response to regulatory filings. It plans to open three extra earlier than 2025.

The financial institution additionally employs 460 staff in Charlotte.

The area is “an incredibly vibrant and robust market,” Spence stated. North Carolina has served as a beta marketplace for new Fifth Third merchandise equivalent to Momentum Banking, a fintech-esque saving and checking account with digital goal-setting instruments and early entry to direct deposits.

Each Spence and Fite stated they fight to not focus an excessive amount of on competing with native retail banking titans equivalent to Bank of America or Truist.

“I don’t really worry a lot about the competition,” stated Fite.

He desires to maintain his give attention to high-quality service that attracts clients organically.

“People want to be a part of an organization that they believe in, that they think is going to treat people with respect,” he stated.

And whereas opponents have a robust grip on the Charlotte market, Spence pointed to the truth that Fifth Third ranks fourth behind the town’s three greatest banks — Bank of America, Truist and Wells Fargo — in terms of the quantity of its complete deposits within the metro space.

The financial institution “already has a really strong initial foothold here,” Spence stated.

In Charlotte, Fifth Third additionally desires to make an affect past banking, Fite stated. He pointed to the financial institution’s $20 million investment in the West End for instance. The financial institution is working with native nonprofit LISC Charlotte to offer lending, donations and different investments to fund the financial revitalization of the traditionally Black neighborhood.

“This idea of strong communities is more than lip service to us,” Spence stated.

Constructing branches

Although large Charlotte banks equivalent to Wells Fargo or Bank of America are shrinking their retail footprint locally, Spence stated including new branches stays an necessary a part of Fifth Third’s technique.

Increasing within the area aligns with the financial institution’s Mission NorthStar, an initiative launched in 2016 beneath Carmichael to construct the financial institution’s profitability and nationwide fame.

“Branches are great at building awareness of the bank,” Spence stated.

However Fifth Third’s new branches now look totally different than they used to, he stated.

For one factor, they’re smaller. Right this moment’s places are half the sq. footage of conventional branches, Spence stated. And the house is allotted in another way, with much less emphasis on teller transactions.

Digital banking has given clients a lot simpler methods to handle these, Spence stated. However generally, clients simply need to speak to an actual individual.

“The branches are there to support you as it relates to advice or to resolve problems that come up,” he stated. “They’re there to give you the peace of mind that… there’s going to be somebody there who’s looking after your relationship (with the bank).”

Wanting forward

Spence stated he’s additionally keeping track of a few of the headwinds the broader banking trade will possible face in 2022.

“Thankfully, I didn’t get a lot of sleep heading into the job,” he joked.

So he received’t be shedding a lot when he transitions from president to CEO this summer time.

However with rising mortgage charges taking a chunk of the house lending enterprise and a few economists warning of a recession on the horizon, there’s loads to watch in terms of the enterprise setting.

“My view is the macro(economic) backdrop in general is just going to be more volatile over the intermediate term,” Spece stated. “That’s not saying that it’s necessarily going to be worse, it’s just the level of uncertainty that we all have to contend with.”

However he added that he feels assured in regards to the Fifth Third’s skill to take care of that change.

“We’re just going to have to be nimble,” he stated. “And so is everybody else.”

This story was initially printed April 29, 2022 6:00 AM.

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Hannah Lang covers banking and financial fairness for The Charlotte Observer. She studied enterprise journalism on the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in the identical city as her alma mater.

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