Beth Ardoin, communications director for the Lafayette-based bank, says the move is part of the bank’s effort to spread critical operations over several cities and geographic areas — the bank boasts branches in six states and mortgage reps in 12 states — in order to avoid service interruptions amid natural disasters or other emergencies.
“Following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, banks with centralized operation sites, particularly in the South, were unable to service their clients,” Ardoin says. “Having multiple operation sites, which we had at that time, allows us to provide continuous support to our clients across our 12-state footprint. For example, when one area faces severe weather issues, the bank continues to operate without a hitch.”
The expansion of IberiaBank’s Birmingham operations is also attributed in part to the growth that IberiaBank has experienced in that market since it purchased Birmingham-based Century Bank in a 2009 failed bank acquisition, Ardoin says. IberiaBank’s website lists six branches in Birmingham, and Ardoin says the bank is opening another branch there this year.
The 15 New Iberia employees have the option of transferring to Birmingham, Ardoin says, or applying for another open position within the company.
“Birmingham does offer a great deal of banking talent, since several large banks have been headquartered there over a long period of time,” Ardoin says. “However, we also have ‘back-office’ personnel in other locations, such as other cities across Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida. Again, our primary goal is to provide our clients uninterrupted banking services at all times and having key personnel located in various geographic locations helps us achieve that objective.”
It’s highly likely that the largest city in Alabama is indeed home to an experienced pool of banking talent, as Birmingham served as the one-time headquarters of four big banks — SouthTrust, AmSouth, Compass and Regions — according to the Higley 1000, a website that ranks and profiles the most affluent neighborhoods in the U.S. But when the housing bubble and subsequent recession struck banks across the globe, three of the four large Birmingham banks merged with other financial institutions, Higley reports, which leaves only one big bank that’s based in Birmingham: Regions, the 10th largest in the country.