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The leaders of Reliant Bancorp posted a fourth-quarter profit of $12.2 million, nearly three times the number of late 2019 thanks in part to two acquisitions, and said Friday they are forecasting solid bottom-line growth this year — helped by the pending closure of a number of its branches.

Brentwood-based Reliant finished 2020 with $2.30 billion in loans and $3.03 billion in assets, which were both down slightly from the mark of Sept. 30 as the bank’s Paycheck Protection Program loan book shrank. But core profitability rose — helped by the adjusted net interest margin climbing to 4.09 percent from 3.36 percent a year earlier — and credit quality more than held up, with nonperforming assets falling nearly 5 percent during the quarter.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, Chairman and CEO DeVan Ard Jr. and his team aren’t forecasting strong loan growth — they’re forecasting around 5 percent — but they do expect that competition will be fierce for the good clients in the market.

“It’s amazing how quickly the banks in this area have flipped the switch from ‘We’re just trying to get our hands around the impact of the pandemic’ to “Let’s go out and get all the good new earning assets we can get,’” Ard said on a call with analysts and investors Friday morning.

Since buying fellow locals First Advantage Bank and Community Bank & Trust last year, the Reliant team has been paying attention to its costs as a share of revenues. Since the first quarter of 2020, that ratio has fallen from 65 percent to about 47 percent and more savings are coming. Ard said Friday that Reliant’s branch network will in the near future be pared down by “a few branches.”

“We’ve realized as we’ve come through the pandemic that customers want to do business in a different way than we’ve experienced in the past,” Ard said.

Bank executives couldn’t be immediately reached Friday for details about the planned closures. Reliant runs 26 offices in the Greater Nashville area, five of which are in Clarksville and three in Columbia. Savings from the planned closures will go toward various upgrades to the bank’s digital offerings, including a new website that will integrate chat and text customer support features.

Shares of Reliant (Ticker: RBNC) were flat Friday around $19.60. They have risen about 30 percent in the past six months.

This post originally appeared in our partner publication, the Nashville Post

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