Banks race for No. 2 spot

Washington Mutual is still the top dog when it comes to banking in Jackson County, but locally-owned PremierWest Bank and Roseburg-based Umpqua Bank are locked in a battle for No. 2.

The FDIC's annual report of market share was recorded June 30 and released last week. Washington Mutual remained No. 1 for the 10th year, but the pack is catching up. Umpqua moved into the No. 2 spot last year and is in a virtual deadlock with PremierWest (14.02 to 14 percent) for local deposits.

This year's measure is the high-water mark to date for both institutions and it came in a year when deposits rose by just over $235 million. Umpqua's 10 local offices reported deposits of $384.881 million, while PremierWest's 10 local branches reported deposits of $384.216 million.

"It's a tough deposit environment right now because there are a lot of alternatives to bank deposits right now," said PremierWest Bank President Jim Ford. "In the last year, we've watched the stock market rise. When that happens, people liquidate their accounts and put the money into the stock market.

The mutual funds and brokerage houses have come up with fairly liquid accounts — they're not like checking accounts, but they are pretty liquid money market accounts. Two or three years ago, there was hardly a difference between non-interest business and personal checking accounts and money market accounts. But that was before interest rates were raised."

Not only did Washington Mutual's market share slip by nearly 2.5 percent, but its deposits retreated below the half-billion dollar mark to $499.616 million. WaMu has topped the annual local deposit index since it surpassed U.S. Bank in 1998 and hadn't held less than 20 percent of the checking and savings deposits since 2001. Washington Mutual's most dominant year was 2003 when it accounted for 25.7 percent of the county's deposits and had local deposits of nearly $545 million.

Regional banks have been making inroads, however, and Rick Carey, executive vice president for retail banking at Umpqua, said his firm passed Ohio giant KeyBank statewide in Oregon.

"In a lot of markets we're seeing small business migrate to community banks because there are more local resources than at larger national banks," Carey said. "At PremierWest and Umpqua, we have a lot of people participating in the community and that's what customers are looking for."

Calls and e-mails to Washington Mutual's media department were not returned.

Ford said deposits are critical to the growth of community and regional banks.

"Unlike many others businesses, banks can't leverage their way to growth; deposits are critical to us," Ford said. "All the bankers have to pay attention right now. Many people want to borrow money, but not everybody wants to leave deposits. We think long and hard about creating lending relationships if a company doesn't want to bring deposits to us and we price our products that way too."

Umpqua, PremierWest, Sterling Savings Bank, Liberty Bank, Bank of the Cascades and South Valley Bank & Trust all improved their deposit totals as well as market share. U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo Bank and KeyBank had improved deposit totals, but lost market share. Washington Mutual, Bank of America, People's Bank of Commerce and Evergreen Federal Savings & Loan all showed fewer dollars deposited as well as smaller market share.

No. 9 Liberty Bank of Eugene topped the $100 million deposit level for the first time locally. Bend-based Bank of the Cascades, which entered the local market in 2003, moved up to No. 10 with a 3 percent market share.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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