Decatur First Bank Closed By the State, Acquired by Fidelity

Very upsetting.  Based on FMFats comment in FFAF, I went searching and found this press release posted just minutes ago by FDIC…

Decatur First Bank, Decatur, Georgia, was closed today by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Fidelity Bank, Atlanta, Georgia, to assume all of the deposits of Decatur First Bank.

The five branches of Decatur First Bank will reopen during their normal business hours beginning Saturday as branches of Fidelity Bank. Depositors of Decatur First Bank will automatically become depositors of Fidelity Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage up to applicable limits. Customers of Decatur First Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Fidelity Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other Fidelity Bank branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Decatur First Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2011, Decatur First Bank had approximately $191.5 million in total assets and $179.2 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Fidelity Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

The FDIC and Fidelity Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $111.5 million of Decatur First Bank’s assets. Fidelity Bank will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/lossshare/index.html.

Customers with questions about today’s transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-430-7974. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., EDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., EDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., EDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC’s Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/decatur.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $32.6 million. Compared to other alternatives, Fidelity Bank’s acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC’s DIF. Decatur First Bank is the 82nd FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the twenty-first in Georgia. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Piedmont Community Bank, Gray, on October 14, 2011.

79 thoughts on “Decatur First Bank Closed By the State, Acquired by Fidelity”


  1. I saw a tweet (not using the #DecaturGA hashtag) at 5:11, and asked the guy for his source. As I was looking around, a tweet by FN can in. We knew it has been on the troubled list for some time, but I was always assured that was from an overabundance of caution. Too bad. Now we have no locally owned bank.

  2. You have GOT to be kidding me. I just moved my banking there last week, to escape from the corporate evildoers. I could not be more frustrated.

    1. We met with them last week to talk about doing the same thing; only some outstanding loose ends prevented us from opening new accounts and moving most of our banking over to DFB in the last few days. I am weirdly grateful for loose ends now…

  3. I loved DFB. Without any local banks is there a good alternative to avoid the corporate banks?

      1. I just looked on their website, and any resident of DeKalb County is eligible to become a member of Delta Community Credit Union, the folks with the branch in the old Ritz Camera place behind CVS.

        1. If you care, Delta Community Credit Union has twice the assets of Fidelity Bank. So moving to Delta, wouldn’t be changing to a smaller institution.

          1. Yeah they are the largest credit union in Georgia and somewhere between 20th to 25th largest in the country. Atlanta Postal is the next largest in the state, about half the size of Delta, and Georgia’s Own is somewhat smaller then Postal.

        2. My son is a member there so that he can walk to his small account and we have been very happy with it. They usually have cookies out!

        3. Delta is great, I’ve been there for five years and have no regrets, especially now that there’s a Decatur branch.

        4. We’ve been with delta for about 5 years. Love it since they moved to Decatur. I think Dekalb residents can also join Emory CU which is on clairmont near Publix, and CDC’s CU. Any military vets or families of active, retired or honorably discharged service members can join USAA. We love it too, everything is online, and you can even make random check deposits at any UPS store.

      2. Residents of south Decatur are also eligible for membership in B.O.N.D. Community Credit Union in Little Five Points.

      1. +1

  4. We just opened an account there and hadn’t yet closed our account at Wells Fargo. Hadn’t even made it in to get some free popcorn! I was wondering if they might be in trouble, but had no information that they were. Bummer, now I’m stuck with Wells Fargo.

      1. Here I go again talking about my experience “years ago”, but Fidelity was founded by people I would describe as “Decatur community business leaders”. I did not know that changed. What happened there. I bank at Wells Fargo and find them to be what I can only call with maybe slight exaggeration (too early in morning to think of a better word) the poster child of corporate criminality. And haven’t I read that Wells is one of the corporations that needed giant federal bailouts yet paid no federal tax last year? Or was it that they paid obscene bonuses to Officers? Switch to a Credit Union.

  5. The Emory Alliance Credit Union on Clairmont near North Decatur is open to DeKalb County residents. We’ve been very happy with them.

  6. Definitely a tough time for small banks – they can’t offer convenience of larger banks or compete on price with a non profit credit union. Hopefully, all employees will find work with Fidelity.

  7. Fidelity is the least of the possible evils. They are a local regional bank, not a mega-bank, that actually used to have their corporate headquarters in the Fidelity Bank building at Clairemont and Commerce before they officially moved it to Norcross. There was an article in today’s Atlanta Business Chronicle wherein they stated that, despite overtures from other larger banks, they were satisfied doing what they were doing and had no plans to be acquired. They seem to be reasonably strong and are publicly held.

    One thing I imagine will happen, though, is that the downtown DFB office will close and merge into the Fidelity branch.

  8. Very sad news. I feel like I lost a friend. DFB was always such a great supporter of community events. I loved banking there. It was the “Cheers” of banks. Everybody knew my name. And they were so kind and helpful when I was settling my mom’s estate, even when I cried or threw a tantrum.

    1. I feel the same way! I actually cried when I heard the news. We’ve had an account there for years, and have brought our little girl into the bank with us since she was a tiny baby… all the DFB employees treat her like a favorite niece. So sad to see another local business go down.

  9. What’s upsetting is the “all is well” assurances Decatur First officials offered on this website.

    Occupy the Brick Store! (No use being out in the cold)

    1. The health and viability of financial institutions balances on a slender reed these days. I am sure that any assurances made by DFB were true when made and well-intentioned.

  10. Horrible news. We keep a couple of accounts there and a lock box just because they were local and supported Decatur. Fidelity is better than Wells Greedo or BankoStealing or SunCrooks, but I prefer Credit Unions. One solution to the current financial mess is for everyone to bank with a non-profit.

      1. According to the FDIC web page only 9 credit unions failed in 2011 (so far), 17 in 2010, and 15 in 2009. Over 80 banks failed in 2011 (so far), a larger number in 2010. I decided not to count 2009. Interestingly, no GA credit unions have failed in the last 3 years. Lots of GA banks have failed though. While I agree that not all credit unions are well managed (I’ve fired at least one in the past), they are more careful in their business dealings. Also, the profit motive for the big banks seems to devolve into just plain greed for their upper management.

  11. Since Decatur First Bank probably owns that property on Commerce, I bet it stays open. I imagine Fidelity leases its space in the office buildings across the street. I wonder if they will close the Kroger satellite branch next week.

    1. The space in the office building seems to be much larger, so we’ll see. The DFB building may be owned by the holding company, which is not affected and, if so, the holding company may want to sell or lease the building. Maybe a larger space for Delta Community?

      As for the Kroger branch, that will be interesting to watch; Fidelity does not have any supermarket branches. BTW, the Decatur Fidelity branch is open 9-12 on Saturday.

  12. I, for one, love the big banks. They have the best online and mobile services, the broadest deepest service options and branches and ATMs everywhere in the country. There’s a lot to be said for that.

    In the grand scheme of things, I hate telecom, insurance and utility companies much more than I hate the big banks.

      1. Hah! Not one – all of them. Big, middle and small. So I get to see the pros and cons of community vs. mega bank up close. There are good and bad for each, but it generally comes down to personal touch vs deep/broad services.

        It’s a choice, but for me, I’d rather have a robust mobile application, full DIY online options, and ATM access everywhere I travel. True example, last night, while in Minneapolis, I sent money from my SunTrust account to my Wells Fargo account, transferred money between two WF accounts, and paid a bill to someone entirely unrelated to either. All on my mobile. That’s a value that I’ve been spoiled to have for free for many years.

        1. I guess it’s cool being able to do banking at odd hours from one’s telephone while traveling about. I don’t need to do that, and am not interested in paying fees so other people who do want that stuff can have it for free. My banking needs are simple. I also don’t necessarily require a “personal touch” and in fact, find it quite annoying whenever the Borg Bank refreshes its “customer relationship” policies and suddenly, all of the employees trip over themselves trying to be cordial and personable and yet remain unable to answer even the simplest questions or competently handle even simple operations.

          I’ve been with the same bank for 15+ years. Every time it goes through a merger, the quality of service and level of competence deteriorates even more, while fees increase. I know several different people who have experienced the same thing with another, formerly local bank. Example: it shouldn’t take three rounds of paperwork and two trips to the bank to establish a home equity line of credit — unless the bank person doesn’t really understand the paperwork and does it wrong AND submits such poor quality copies that “headquarters” requires another do-over. Example: the person in the bank that helps me open a new biz checking account should either provide correct information or none at all about how to set up electronic banking for the account — not misinformation that results in it actually taking a couple of weeks (and many calls to electronic banking tech support) to get it straightened out. (Of course, these kinds of probs are exacerbated by the mindless, faceless, increasingly clueless people who “handle” customer service calls.)

          All I’m looking for is basic service delivered competently, a modicum of convenience, and not to be gouged with fees at every turn. Along the way, it would be nice to feel like the institution really does value my business, but that’s not a deal killer. It’s been years since I’ve received those essentials, so I’m still going to leave Borg Bank. Just now have to decide whether Fidelity will be my new home (course of least resistance, acceptable if they honor all benefits associated with my DFB accounts), or to go shop for a credit union.

  13. Sorry to hear this about DFB. They seemed like good people. But what’s with the WF bashing? I’ve been with them since the Wells Fargo merger, they also wrote my mortgage, and I’ve never been upset with their service. And by the way, they were forced to take TARP funds. They did not ned them. The bank has always been pretty conservatively managed. They certainly underwrote my mortgage as if they cared about losing their money.

  14. On the way home from The Marlay this evening, we drove past the bank. Lights were all on, there was a guard at the door, lots of white vans and white cars in the lot, lots of suits with credentials in the bank. I was reminded of this story from This American Life in 2009. http://bit.ly/nOHCMx Good listening if you are interested in what happens when the state and the FDIC step in. Sad day for Decatur.

  15. I have always had good experiences at Delta CU, although my business transactions with them have been pretty limited. That is about to change. I’m switching my local checking to Delta. I also have an account with the CDC credit union (because I have a safe deposit box at a branch). They seem to be well run.
    I’m sad to hear this about Decatur First; they are literally a neighbor of mine, though I have never had the opportunity to do business with them. I almost went there when WF took over Wachovia, but then Delta opened a branch here so I never got around to it.

  16. We’ve banked with DFB since we married in 1998. I’m heatbroken! I feel like I’ve just lost a friend.

  17. Note to self: when opening business in Decatur, people like free cookies and/or popcorn. Overextended real estate lending – not a concern.

    1. It’s the economy. DFB was pretty conservative and had it engaged in fast growth speculative real estate lending it would have failed two years ago. And it didn’t take TARP money.

      1. According to this article:
        http://problembanklist.com/decatur-first-bank-of-georgia-becomes-st-banking-failure-in-georgia-0421/
        “During the real estate boom, Decatur aggressively expanded its lending and more than doubled assets between 2003 and 2008. The ensuing real estate crash and financial crisis quickly resulted in soaring loan defaults. By June of this year, the Bank had an astronomical troubled asset ratio of 444%. Virtually every bank with a troubled asset ratio in excess of 100% winds up failing.”

        I think a lot of us were fooled to think they were being conservative.

        1. A small young bank doubling its asset size over a six year period is not necessarily aggressive.This was not a situation like Alpha or Integrity Banks.

  18. I believe it was their purchase of the bank in Oconee County that did them in. Lots of bad real estate and real estate developer loans. They should have kept their focus on Decatur.

    1. Lake Oconee Community Bank is in Greene County. DFB did not ever purchase any banks, but opened it and The Bank of Morgan County in Madison as branches of DFB .

    2. As I understand it, you hit the nail on the head. Everything Decatur-centric was fine. It was the Oconee business that pulled the bank down. The published quarterly capital reports, which are publicly available, showed the untenable situation at DFB for a long time. There are just so many banks in trouble across the country that it literally takes a while to get to them.
      For all of the DFB employees who are reading this, please accept our thanks for the amazing service you provided. I understand you will be meeting on Sunday with human resources people at Fidelity.
      For the Fidelity folks reading this, thank you for stepping in and working to make this as seemless as possible. As much as I will miss DFB, as both a Decatur resident with personal banking at DFB and a small businessman in Decatur with my business banking at DFB, I could not ask for a better group to step in. I hope you recognize the fantastic customer- and community-centric training these DFB people have and bring as many as possible on board your ship. There are so many. many amazing folks at DFB, but you could not get a better person to represent Fidelity than DFB branch manager Anne Berg.

      1. For the DFB employees, I meant to add at the end of the paragraph mentioning your Sunday meeting: “We will be thinking of you Sunday and in the coming weeks and months.”
        For the Fidelity folks, I meant to use the word “seamless,” not “seemless.” I don’t even think the latter is a word! Sorry.

        1. “I meant to use the word “seamless,” not “seemless.” I don’t even think the latter is a word! ”

          Gosh, it sounds like a lawyer-word to me.

      2. Thanks, Tom. For the record, Ann Berg was a business development officer. Pam Bradley was the office manager.
        I look back on the last line of the 3rd paragraph of the pres release:
        Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

        If only they all had.

        1. And I knew that! Thanks, Jack. All of them would make great catches for Fidelity or any other business that wants a strong fan base for customers.

        2. Ditto! Jack has been a wonderful loan officer for my husband & me. We’re so saddened to hear about the news. We’ll be thinking about you too & hoping for the best for all employees! R. Harp & D. Bennett

          1. Thanks, Robin and David. I spent the afternoon on the downtown streets for Turn DecatuRED today and was truly touched by the outpouring of affection and concern I encountered everywhere I went.

    1. Is that a known fact ? Have employees been let go? Not a huge staff. Perhaps Fidelity will have places for them.

      1. Sorry Fifi, not a fact. Just a guess and a late-night injudicious post. I am sure there is uncertainty, however.

  19. Loved Decatur First and their community support. They knew the names of everyone in my family, always asked after them and went above and beyond to help us out when our son’s ATM card became demagnetized while studying abroad. I was proud to have my business account there and enjoyed seeing so many other Decatur business owners in the bank when I made a deposit. When 50 Cents Period opened its account there recently, the banker wrote us a personal check and deposited in the account, too. This last week, they collected a nice chunk of change for the cause. All the best wishes for all who worked there. Thank you !

  20. The DFB website now directs folks to the Fidelity site, but retains a link to DFB online banking, which I imagine will be around for a while until the transition is complete, albeit with a new logo.

  21. And thank goodness for Big Government Regulation, FDR, and the FDIC. I’m sad to see my little bank go, but relieved that retired persons, like myself, are not financially wiped out.

  22. I was forced into being a Chase bank customer after Washington Mutual closed. I know how it is to lose your bank but I would encourage everyone to give Fidelity a try. I get free checking and they do have a lot of other services. The people are always nice and the ATMs around the city are very convenient. I am a very happy customer of Fidelity.

  23. The reason we have accounts at Decatur First Bank is solely because of Ann Berg. Any bank who is crazy to let someone of that caliber get away. She helped both of my children with their first debit cards/college checking accounts–I credit her with starting them off on the right foot. She cares deeply about the Decatur community and it shows in her actions through the Decatur Business Association and the Decatur Booster Club. We have accounts at other mega banks and the level of customer service does not even compare to the level of care we received at Decatur First.

  24. As a customer of Fidelity Bank I couldn’t be happier! They’ve been around for over 35 years and continually support local DeKalb organizations. I’ve had a free checking account for over five years and am continually amazed by the level of service received from Brock and Kelly at their Decatur branch. Before switching, stop in and visit with them. After all, Fidelity is a Georgia community bank…there are worse options and you can’t beat the cookies 🙂

    1. I’m glad to hear that, and appreciate your taking the time to share. I have no reason to dislike Fidelity going in, and will most likely stay and give them a chance if nothing is going to change with features & benefits on my accounts. I am going to try and ignore the cookies, though! (Reminds me of the local bank where I grew up. When I was very young, the teller always gave us Chiclets, the ones with two pieces in a tiny little box.)

  25. Cornerstone Bank is a “local” bank, in the sense that it’s an Atlanta bank. We’ve been very happy with them. They have 3 locations. One in Decatur, one in Sandy Springs and one on Mt Paran road next to 75.

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