An acquirer's loss is a competitor's gain.

Pennsylvania is finally bearing witness to market disruption following BB&T's purchases of Susquehanna Bancshares and National Penn Bancshares, with at least three community banks hiring former employees of the acquired institutions.

Univest Corp. of Pennsylvania in Souderton has poached 15 employees, including nine agricultural and commercial lenders, while Orrstown Financial in Shippensburg, Pa., has snagged four lenders from the $212 billion-asset BB&T.

Fulton Financial in Lancaster, Pa., hired a veteran Small Business Administration lender who became available after BB&T largely dismissed her team last summer.

The sale of two prominent banks to BB&T in Winston-Salem, N.C., presents a "huge opportunity" for the institutions that remain, said Robert Kafafian, president and CEO of the Kafafian Group, a Parsippany, N.J., consulting firm. More banks will likely "try and hive off business and grab lenders," he said.

The shifts are the latest in a state where 27 banks have found buyers since early 2014, including 11 with at least $500 million in assets, according to data compiled by KBW.

Univest has been a big beneficiary. The $2.8 billion-asset company is leveraging the hiring of former National Penn lenders by opening a loan-production office this summer with plans of upgrading to a branch. By the end of 2018, Univest plans to have up to five branches in Lancaster County.

The poached lenders can pull in business; Michael Perito, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, wrote in a recent note to clients that the team had been responsible for a $1 billion loan portfolio.

"We'd like to continue to grow in contiguous counties," said Mike Keim, Univest's chief financial officer and president of its bank, adding that the company has hired 24 other lenders from other banks in the past eight months. The past few years have brought "unprecedented market disruption," while providing opportunity for institutions that offer "large-bank capabilities with local decision-making."

Orrstown recently brought on four lenders, including personnel who had worked at Susquehanna and National Penn. The $1.3 billion-asset company, which recently opened a 4,500-square-foot regional headquarters in Lancaster County, remains on the lookout for more lenders to fill a "void in the community banking space," President and Chief Executive Thomas Quinn Jr. said.

"As we execute our strategic expansion plans we will continue to take advantage of opportunities to broaden our presence in the Lancaster region," Quinn said.

Orrstown is also seeking to expand in nearby Dauphin and York Counties. In February it purchased an office building in Swatara Township, outside Harrisburg, to support growth there.

Despite the departure of lenders from the former Susquehanna and National Penn, BB&T remains optimistic about its prospects in Pennsylvania.

"While there may be some associated departures resulting from mergers, BB&T maintains excellent local market banking teams that are well-positioned to execute on our growth strategy throughout Pennsylvania," spokesman David White said.

It is not unusual for acquirers to lose talented employees, but Kafafian said lenders who have moved to new banks might find it more difficult than in years past to get clients to join them in making the switch.

"Some customers are going to be jaundiced," Kafafian said. "We may be approaching a point in time where customers are saying, 'I'm tired of switching my accounts. I'm staying where I am.' "

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