Citizens First Bank Receives Top Honors From Ratings Agencies

Weiss Ratings gave the bank an "A", or excellent, rating and BauerFinancial awarded the bank a five-star rating.

By Summer Jarro Ι The Villages Daily Sun Ι July 8, 2024

Citizens First Bank customers can rest easy knowing their bank recently received top ratings for its safety and level of service.

The bank received an “A”, or excellent, rating for safeness from Weiss Ratings, an independent ratings agency that evaluates the safety of depository institutions — banks and credit unions. Citizens First also was awarded five stars from BauerFinancial, an independent practice
that rates banks and credit unions across the country.

 “We are happy to receive such a positive rating,” said Jay Bartholomew, president & CEO of Citizens First Bank. “We will be vigilant to remain strong and continue our positive ratings going forward.”

Citizens First Bank was founded in 1991 and is headquartered in The Villages. The bank has 17 branches across Marion, Sumter and Lake counties. It recently opened its newest branch at downtown Middleton.

“We are in a unique position in The Villages,” Bartholomew said. “Continued prosperity and growth are positive forces for us to support continued expansion within our current market while expanding into new markets to align our strategic objectives. Our increased presence ensures the financial needs of individuals and businesses in our communities can be met.”

Weiss bases its ratings through capital and asset quality as well as profitability, liquidity and stability. The company has used an algorithm
it has developed for the past 40 years with data from Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Citizens First Bank received a 10 out of 10 rating for current capitalization and a 9.3 excellent asset quality rating. Weiss also conducted a five-year analysis of stability tests that included evaluations of capital adequacy, asset growth and profitability, leading to a 8.7 out of 10, or
“excellent” rating. Citizens First Bank was one of one of 374 out of 9,248 banks and credit unions in the nation to receive an A rating.

“It’s gratifying to see that some smaller banks, still sometimes called “country banks,” are still doing a better job of safeguarding their depositors’ money than many of the nation’s largest city and regional banks,” said Martin D. Weiss, founder of Weiss Ratings.

BauerFinancial gave Citizens First Bank a five-star rating, the highest rating that can be given, for its capital strength, asset quality, profitability and liquidity.

Citizens First’s deposits grew by 56% to about $3.1 billion over the five years ending on Dec. 31, 2023, according to federal bank data.

The bank is built upon strong leadership, said Alex Sanchez, former president of the Florida Bankers Association.

“When you achieve this type of success, it shows they work as a team, work together to serve the community,” Sanchez said. “Their record
speaks for itself. This growth doesn’t occur by happenstance. It means customers are satisfied with the service they’re getting.”

Bartholomew said the recognition is proof of how hardworking the Citizens First Bank team has been in offering the best experience for customers.

“We strive to provide our customers with a positive and welcoming experience when they visit us in person, online or over the phone,” Bartholomew said. “Our primary reason for being here is to serve our customers because without our customer base, we would not be successful.”