Large banks once again tightened their grip on the deposits of American bank customers, according to a yearly look at national market share figures. But not all is grim for small banks.

Banks with at least $10 billion of assets held about $7.16 trillion in deposits, as of June 30, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s summary of deposits. That figure represents 75.9% of all U.S. Bank and thrift deposits, up from 74.4% a year earlier. Banks in this asset category increased their share while adding a net total of only 90 branches nationwide.

The smallest banks also continued to lose share. Institutions with $300 million of assets and under controlled about 5.4% of total U.S. deposits, down from 5.9% a year earlier. These small banks also trimmed retail footprints, with total branches dropping 5.1%, to 14,067 offices, from a year ago.

The annual FDIC report surveys 6,949 federally insured financial institutions in the U.S. and its territories.

The situation is far from hopeless for community and regional banks, as many have tapped on the brakes for deposit-gathering, because of excess liquidity. Further, smaller institutions hold their own against big banks in small cities and rural areas.

Community banks may be losing ground in market share, but that's not because they are bad at collecting deposits, says James Stevens, a lawyer at Troutman Sanders who advises banks. Instead, it's more a function of lending competition.

"It usually isn't related to their inability to get dollars in the door but rather their inability to get dollars out of the door," Stevens says. "Competition for quality loans is intense and bigger banks are tough competitors."

Some deposit growth is attributable to acquisitions.

UnionBanCal's $102 billion-asset Union Bank, in San Francisco, increased deposits 21.4% over the past year, partly through its acquisition of Pacific Capital Bancorp in Santa Barbara, Calif. But Union Bank also added deposits by expanding its retail presence, adding a net of 17 branches in the 12-month period, through a new marketing campaign and by adding new checking products, says Pierre Habis, head of community banking.

"We're trying to be creative and responsive and responsible in terms of how we attract consumer deposits," Habis says.

In the largest U.S. cities, the megabanks rule in terms of deposit market share. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) controls the top spot in three of the five largest U.S. cities: New York, Chicago and Houston. Bank of America (BAC) claims the lead in Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles. Wells Fargo (WFC) is tops in Denver, Miami and San Diego.

A few cities saw changes at the top of the market-share leaderboard. JPMorgan passed Wells for the lead in Phoenix, with Chase holding 27% of the market, compared with 26% for Wells. But Wells nabbed the lead in the metro Washington market, rising to 12.6% and knocking off Capital One Financial (COF). And in Nashville, Tenn., Regions Financial (RF) ceded the top slot to Bank of America, whose share of the market climbed to 16.3%.

Regional banks that are headquartered in smaller cities often enjoy the lead in their own backyards. First Horizon National (FHN) is tops in market share in Memphis, Tenn., where it's based. The same goes for MidFirst Bank in Oklahoma City; M&T Bank (MTB) in Buffalo, N.Y.; and Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) in Columbus, Ohio.

Megabanks also lag behind smaller competitors in rural areas. The $7.3 billion-asset First Interstate BancSystem (FIBK) and the $8 billion-asset Glacier Bancorp (GBCI), together control about 30% of deposits in Montana, with each holding about 15%. Wells Fargo is the third-largest bank in Montana, with 12%. Bell State Bank & Trust has the top market share in its hometown of Fargo, N.D., at 32%. The $2.6 billion-asset Bell also controls 7% of the North Dakota state market, good for second place.

While market share figures may not directly translate into profits, don't think bankers are not acutely aware of where they stand in specific cities. The $5.4 billion-asset Pinnacle Financial Partners (PNFP) touted its performance in metro Nashville, where it's based, saying it added 70 basis points of market share, more than any rival in the market.

"Our deposit market share gains are a direct result of hiring the best financial services professionals," Terry Turner, Pinnacle's president and chief executive, said in a prepared statement.

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