Franklin Synergy secures state charter

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 at 2:27am

Franklin will likely, by November, be home to the town’s only locally owned and operated community bank. Again.

Since 2004, Franklin has gained one and lost two locally owned community banks. Franklin National Bank, founded in 1989, was sold to Fifth Third Bank of Cincinnati in 2004; and Civitas BankGroup Inc., which operated branches under the name Cumberland Bank, was acquired by Greene County Bancshares of Greeneville.

The organization Franklin Synergy Bank, which secured its state charter Monday morning, is set to be led by many of the same executives who started and then sold Franklin National and Cumberland Banks.

Richard Herrington, president of Franklin Synergy, said the new bank shares a similar business plan with those of the previous ventures. But the new bank, he said, will ideally, “bring forth the good things from the previous banks we’ve been involved in.”

Franklin Synergy recently completed a 30-day, $26.25 million fund-raising campaign, said company senior vice president Aimee Punessen on Monday. The interest from investors was so strong, Punessen said, that a waiting list was formed when fund-raising was completed, and a second offering is planned to take place in two to three years. Approximately 96 percent of investors are local residents, Punessen said.

“The goal here is to have a locally owned and operated bank,” Punessen said. “Our investors are really local people.”

Franklin Synergy is a de novo start-up, meaning that the process of opening the bank requires securing a new charter. The new bank has secured a state charter through the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, Punessen said, but is still awaiting insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and approval of membership from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.

Though the process is not complete, Punessen said bank leaders applied for all three hurdles at approximately the same time, and there are, as yet, no indications of trouble securing FDIC and Federal Reserve approval.

Punessen said the bank will likely open in November, at a location in Aspen Brook Village near Cool Springs. Bank leaders plan to open one branch each year for approximately the next three years, Punessen said, including locations in downtown Franklin and Brentwood. Plans do not include expansion beyond Williamson County.

The new bank will target several specific markets, Herrington said, including private bankers aged 50 and older, residential real estate, local businesses and individuals who prefer to do much of their banking online.

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