SOURCE: Southern Community Financial Corporation

Southern Community Financial Corporation

March 17, 2011 09:00 ET

Southern Community Strengthens Focus on Small Business Owner

Introduces 'Dedicated Small Business Banker' and New Loan Model

WINSTON-SALEM, NC--(Marketwire - March 17, 2011) - Southern Community Bank and Trust (NASDAQ: SCMF), one of the leading small business community banks in the Carolinas, today said it has created a new division that strengthens its focus on the small business owner. The bank named Vice President Michelle Koster as small business banking manager.

"Small businesses are critical to the recovery of our economy," said Rob Davis, executive vice president and commercial banking manager. "They create more jobs collectively than big business. We have a responsibility to do whatever is possible to help them get back on their feet."

Southern Community is introducing in each of its 22 branch offices a new "dedicated small business banker." It is also incorporating a new, flexible loan process that allows bankers to take into account the differences and nuances of small business.

"Big banks centralize their processes, including how they make loans," Davis said. "Most credit decisions by large banks are made at the corporate level, sometimes thousands of miles from where the business owner works and lives.

 "But that is not how we operate," he said. "The real difference has always been in our ability to deliver timely decisions on a personal level. We believe it's important the business client speaks directly to the bankers who make the decision."

The dedicated small business banker will also provide personal financial advice as Southern Community believes that taking a holistic approach is in the best interest of the small business owner.

"We see the small business and the owner as one relationship," said Koster, who joined Southern Community Bank's commercial lending area in 2003. "Our approach is really about placing our knowledge and expertise closer to the small business owner and providing a level of focus and service that is unmatched in our industry. We're looking at the whole relationship."

Southern Community Bank, which controls the third largest share of deposits in the Triad region, opened its doors in Winston-Salem in 1996 with its primary goal to be the best small business bank in each of its markets. Today, 80 percent of its total revenues come from commercial lending.

"In Michelle, we have someone who is extremely bright and experienced in small business banking," Davis said. "She has the right kind of leadership to lead this effort and make a significant contribution to our bank."

The new strategy moves the decision-making closer to the business customer. For loans and other services, the dedicated small business banker has available, if necessary, lending specialists, wealth management advisors and cash management specialists.

"You cannot fit small business owners in the same credit box," Koster said. "Many small businesses simply cannot provide the same level of financial detail as the bigger companies so they really need someone who is dedicated to understanding their business.

"Our new credit model was developed to accommodate more of our personal involvement with the business owner," she said. "We want to be able to sit down across from our business customers and explain how and why we've made a decision and, if necessary, advise them on how to get to the point where we can help them. We may at times say no to the loan, but we still say yes to the relationship."

Southern Community Bank has begun prospecting for new business clients and reaching out to current small business owners. The idea is to match its reputation for service with a new goal of becoming more personally involved in the overall financial relationship.

"We have a distinguishable advantage over the larger institutions," Davis said. "We can move more quickly on decisions because the decisions are made by local bankers."

Southern Community continues to provide many of its products and services for little or no charge, products such as Business Checking, Personal Checking, Online Banking and benefit packages that provide premium rates on CDs and loans to the employees of the small business.

Southern Community Financial Corporation, the holding company of Southern Community Bank and Trust, operates 22 banking offices throughout North Carolina. For more information, go to www.smallenoughtocare.com.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:
    Rob Davis
    Executive Vice President

    Commercial Banking Manager
    Southern Community Bank and Trust
    (336) 768-8500


    Michelle Koster
    Vice President
    Small Business Banking Manager
    Southern Community Bank and Trust
    (336) 794-9878