Citizens Bank Changing Its Name to Unified Bank on Oct. 10
MARTINS FERRY– On Oct. 10, new signage will be in place when The Citizens Savings Bank formally changes its named to Unified Bank, according to Scott Everson, chairman, president and CEO of the bank.
Originally founded in 1902 in Martins Ferry as The German Savings Bank, the bank was previously renamed in 1918 to The Citizens Savings Bank due to the strong anti-German sentiment that permeated throughout our country during World War I.
Now, having operated under its present name for almost 100 years, the bank is once again renaming itself to position for greater differentiation and to prepare for another 115 years of growth.
Under its present operating structure, The Citizens Savings Bank is a state-chartered bank in Ohio that is owned by United Bancorp Inc.
United Bancorp, Inc. is a bank holding company that was formed in 1983 by the Board of Directors of The Citizens Savings Bank for the sole purpose of growing the bank.
“Our bank holding company, United Bancorp Inc., was formed at a time when an individual bank could not legally purchase another independent banking charter,” Everson explained. “Quite simply, the only way that a bank could purchase another banking organization at that time was to form a bank holding company. On that basis, the board of directors of The Citizens Savings Bank formed our bank holding company, United Bancorp, Inc., so that we could take advantage of the changing law at that time and expand.”
Since the formation of United Bancorp Inc. in 1983, the bank holding company has been successful in purchasing other bank charters and branch locations. Over time, and through even further modernization of banking laws impacting bank expansion, all of these acquisitions have ultimately been placed under the umbrella of its single-bank charter, The Citizens Savings Bank.
“United Bancorp Inc. is not changing its name and it will remain the sole owner of our single bank charter, which will now be named Unified Bank,” Everson added.
United Bancorp Inc. is a registered bank holding company, which publically trades on the NASDAQ under the Ticker Symbol UBCP, and is the only publically traded company headquartered in Belmont County, Ohio.
So why is a name change at this time necessary?
Everson said, “Prior to the more expansion friendly banking laws that have developed within the past 50 years or so, most banking charters typically had one location and that location represented its entire existence.
Because of their limited ability (or, inability) to expand, most banks were associated with the individual communities that they served and, therefore, often had one of the common names of the day such as: Citizens, Community, Peoples and First National. Because of their association with a specific community, having a common name with another bank from another community was not an issue.
But, it became an issue with more modern banking laws that allowed for geographic expansion of individual banking charters into other cities and, even, across state lines. When this became a reality, it became much harder for the residents of any community to distinguish the many banks that operated under the more traditional or ‘common’ banking names.”
He said The Citizens Savings Bank is the by-product of a few mergers during its history and it presently operates with two distinct banking divisions: The Citizens Bank, which serves Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison, Carroll and Tuscarawas counties in Ohio and Ohio County in West Virginia, and The Community Bank, which serves Athens and Fairfield counties in Ohio.
“Having such common names in today’s “banking without boundaries” environment has made it very difficult for us to brand our bank effectively. In fact, at present, there are over 500 banks operating in the United States that have either the Citizens or Community name in their title. Quite simply, it creates confusion for our customer base (and theirs) and makes it extremely difficult for us to set our bank apart from the others,” Everson added.
With its new name, Unified Bank is the only commercial bank operating in the country with this new name. In addition, it ties nicely into the name of the parent company, United Bancorp Inc., which, as previously mentioned, has owned all of the stock of the bank since its formation in 1983.
Everson said with its name change, Unified Bank has an updated vision to expand and have a much greater presence by providing exemplary service to many more communities in the tri-state area of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.