The hometown community bank celebrated its 30th year in 2021 and continues to grow along with The Villages.
By Keith Pearlman | Daily Sun Specialty Editor | January 10, 2022
Citizens First Bank continues to reach new milestones.
The Villages’ hometown community bank surpassed $3 billion in total deposits for the third quarter of 2021. It is the first time in the bank’s 30-year history that it has reached that number.
The number is much more than just a dollar figure, said Lindsey Blaise, the bank’s president and CEO.
“The milestone means a lot to the bank because of what that number represents,” she said. “While banks are often measured in terms of total deposits or total assets, what matters to us are the individual relationships that add up to those numbers.”
The bank reported deposits of $3.059 billion for the quarter that ended Sept. 30.
The total represents about a 24% increase in deposits from the same quarter in 2020 and about an 87% five year increase.
The bank is enjoying growth as the community itself expands, Blaise said.
“We are here to serve The Villages community and it is thriving,” she said. “It is so important for us to be able to serve The Villages residents as the community grows. We strive to provide excellent personalized services and love that the residents here in The Villages support us with their trust and loyalty.”
Further evidence of that customer trust and loyalty is evident in the fact that Citizens First has a market share within The Villages metropolitan statistical area of about 55.4% as of June 30, 2021, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The next closest competitor in the MSA is JP Morgan Chase with about 10.8% market share.
The milestone is a tribute to the bank’s leadership, said Alex Sanchez, 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,” he said.
Sanchez is also impressed by the bank’s ability to maintain its high level of customer service as The Villages expands.
“This growth doesn’t occur by happenstance,” he said. “It means customers are satisfied
with the service they’re getting.”
Earlier this year, the bank celebrated the opening of its Sullivan Operations Center on Powell Road and its 10th branch location in The Villages at Magnolia Plaza.
It is the first branch in the community south of State Road 44.
“It has been a very exciting year for milestones,” Blaise said. “Our branch in Magnolia Plaza is one that we have looked forward to for years and we are so happy to be there.”
Also this year, Citizens First marked its 30th anniversary of serving the community.
The bank opened its first branch, Avenida Central, under its original name, First Bank of The Villages on July 1, 1991. Harold Schwartz, the late founder of The Villages, championed the bank’s launch to help fulfill his dream of a completely selfcontained, active retirement community.
“Our 30th anniversary was a very special milestone as well,” Blaise said. “Anniversaries are a time to celebrate the past and look boldly into the future. While banking has changed and will continue to change, our anniversary reminds us that our past and future are closely connected as we continue to live out the purpose for why Citizens First Bank was created— ‘to fulfill the needs of our community and to joyously and conscientiously serve our Villages residents in every possible way.’”