LIBERTY – Big changes are underway for Liberty County's oldest banking institution and largest local home lender, according to Charles McGuire, Chairman of the Board of the now-former First Liberty National Bank.
As of Thursday, Dec. 1, FLNB will be known as First Liberty Bank, officially under the supervision of the Texas Department of Banking.
"As you can imagine, the decision to change a 97-year regulatory relationship was not easy," said McGuire.
First Liberty Bank was originally founded in 1913 as Liberty State Bank, but in 1925 the bank joined the national banking system and has been under the supervision of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
"As we grow and continue to open locations, it has become more advantageous to have a closer relationship with the regulatory body that supervises our banking activity. Converting to a state charter will allow us to keep abreast of issues facing Texas banks as opposed to those mandated by Washington that focus on what is best for the big banks to the detriment of the community banks," said McGuire.
The decision will have little effect on the bank's 15,000 account holders but will better serve the bank's ability to lend money. Under the national banking system, the bank's maximum legal lending limit ability was around $7 million, but with the switch, they can now offer loans in the range of $11 million.
"Although we will have a new name, the same smiling faces will be there to greet you at our same locations and hours. First Liberty Bank will continue to bring the most innovative financial products to our communities," said President Kelly Stretcher.
In the past six years, the bank has seen substantial expansion with around 51% growth bringing the bank's total assets to more than $450 million.
That growth includes seven full-service locations in Liberty, two in Dayton, Hardin, Huffman, China, Mont Belvieu, and one loan production office in Livingston.
Customers will be able to utilize their same checks and banking card, while the app is expected to stay the same and be updated.
The website will change, with customers now using flb.bank for all their banking needs.
In addition to banking services, First Liberty Bank provides mortgage loans, insurance for consumer and commercial customers, and wealth management services for those needing financial or estate planning.
Stretcher looks forward to the changes and assures the bank will continue to provide excellent service with integrity, trustworthiness, courtesy, and commitment to its customers through big bank ability with small bank agility.