The Nashville region's community banks earned a record $47.8 million in the first quarter, which was up 6 percent from the figure from late last year and 13 percent from the first three months of 2013.
But the local industry's bottom-line gains are becoming increasingly concentrated among its largest players, with Pinnacle Bank, FirstBank and Wilson Bank & Trust — the only area banks with loan books greater than $1 billion — now accounting for more than 61 percent of all area profits. That's up from 55 percent a year ago and 43 percent in early 2012. By comparison, the 10 smallest area community banks, which put together are the size of Wilson Bank & Trust, have over the past two years seen their combined profits sink to $1.3 million from $2.2 million.
Those statistics speak to two trends in community banking: The first is that smaller players are having to absorb higher regulatory costs across smaller organizations. The second is that growth is increasingly hard to come by as larger lenders ramp up — the three banks mentioned above account for 45 percent of loan growth over the past year — and overall demand isn't as robust as