Community bankers have become so deeply involved in mergers and acquisitions that they, like their counterparts at bigger banks, have had to develop M&A specialties.

Mirroring what has happened on a larger scale at regional and superregional banking companies, the smaller fry "are trying to make it more of a process and dedicate more staff to it," said Joseph Stieven, a banking analyst at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., St. Louis.

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