Dayton Finance: First Financial Targeting Growth

 Dayton Finance: First Financial Targeting Growth

The local bank is targeting growth in the Dayton region.

Mike Boyer

First Financial Bank has been in the Dayton market less than a decade, but in that time it has established itself as one of the metro area’s largest banks based on deposit market share.

With $304 million in deposits through June 2013, the most recent data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., First Financial ranked eighth in the metro area with just under 3 percent of total deposits.

While not the biggest, First Financial, which traces its history back 150 years ago to its founding in Hamilton, takes pride in offering the services of a large commercial bank with the personal service of a local community institution.

“We like to position ourselves as a large, community bank. We can act on customer requests very quickly, because we offer local decision making, something many of our competitors can’t,” says Dan Kane, First Financial’s Dayton market president. “[Yet] we can still pretty much offer the things our larger bank competitors do. We think we have the best of both worlds.”

One innovation First Financial introduced at the end of July was to partner with LifeLock Inc., the identity theft protection provider, to offer bank clients online security monitoring at a discounted rate.

“That’s fairly innovative for a bank our size,” says Kane, who joined First Financial in early 2006 as a commercial banking manager shortly after the bank established a commercial lending presence in Dayton in late 2005.

Although it hasn’t been in the Dayton market a long time, Kane says the bank’s commercial lending and wealth management departments, in particular, offer extensive experience.

“We have a seasoned team,” he says. “Our average time in the market is well over 20 years. I’m not sure how many of our competitors can make that claim.”

A native of Cleveland, Kane’s been in banking in Dayton for 28 years.

“The thing I like best about banking is that no two days are exactly alike. Even when you talk with a customer about a loan or an investment product on successive days, it’s still a different customer each time and a different set of facts you have to wrap your arms around.”

First Financial—which offers a full set of services such as commercial lending, residential mortgages, wealth management and retail banking—expanded its presence in Dayton in 2011 when it acquired offices of Liberty Savings Bank in Ohio.

Today, First Financial has nine banking centers in the Greater Dayton area and Kane also oversees its banking offices in Hillsboro and Wilmington.

He says the bank is continuing to look at potential sites for new offices in the Dayton area, but no final decisions have been made.

Catering to the growing demand for online banking services, First Financial recently opened its first electronic banking office in Indianapolis.

That type of office, with smaller staff and enhanced ATM services, is a possibility down the road in Dayton although no decisions have been made, he says.