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In banking, smaller looks better as bigger loses luster (access required)

By Caitlin Coakley The headquarters of North Carolina Bank and Trust (NCBT) may not be as impressive as One Wachovia Center, and American Community Bank may not have an ATM on nearly every corner, as Bank of America seems to. And historically, smaller banks have struggled to stay visible and not be overshadowed by the financial giants. The struggle is more pronounced in Charlotte, with the enormous presence of two of the country’s biggest banks. “We don’t have the advertising dollars that a Bank of America or Wachovia may have,” said Mark DeMarcus, president of American Community Bank. “You’re a smaller fish in a big pond.” However, sometimes a financial disaster produces unexpected results, and there is evidence that small community banks have benefited in the recession. While the behemoths face suspicion and disdain for being too big to fail, some customers are viewing their community banks more favorably than before.

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