Douglas M. Lester has a theory. The chairman and chief executive of Trans Financial Bancorp., a $1.6 billion asset bank based in Bowling Green, Ky., said he believes that superregional banks will begin - in the not too distant future - to pull out of small communities, creating greater opportunity for institutions like his.

"It's hard for (big banks) to compete on a personal basis in a lot of the smaller markets. I think they are finding out they are better off competing strictly on cost and going to the metropolitan areas."

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