As the tally of failed banks continues to grow, so does the list of institutions with similar names that have had to calm down confused customers and business partners.
The $1 billion-asset Colonial Savings in Fort Worth has been reassuring its customers that Colonial is "a name you can trust." That can be a difficult concept to get across given that the much larger Colonial Bank in Montgomery, Ala., with assets of $25 billion, was seized by regulators last month — and operates several branches in Colonial Savings' backyard.
"We had customers and third parties call and say, 'Sorry about your business,' " said David Motley, the president of Colonial Savings. "And we'd say, 'What are you talking about?' Several people have come up and said to me they're sorry we're having a hard time."
The company sprung into action by sending direct-mail inserts to tens of thousands of deposit and mortgage customers and posting this explanation on its Web site: "Colonial Savings, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, has absolutely no connection to — or relationship with — Colonial Bank, which is based in Alabama with several branches in the [Dallas-Fort Worth] Metroplex."
According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Colonial Savings was well capitalized on June 30, with a total risk-based capital ratio of 18.35%.
Motley said he tried to make sure employees were comfortable explaining "who we are and how we're not affiliated with Colonial Bank out of Montgomery, Ala."
The problem facing Colonial Savings has become more common in the past year as the failures of local and regional banks garnered national attention.
The FDIC database shows that eight institutions have the word "colonial" in their names. The word "guaranty" is in 21 bank names, which posed a problem for Guaranty Bancorp Inc. in Denver. That $1.9 billion-asset company had to put out a public relations fire last month when a local paper published a story about the failure of Guaranty Financial Group Inc. in Austin without explaining that the two Guarantys were unrelated.
Motley said he believes the confusion will end soon, especially since BB&T Corp. took over the Alabama Colonial's branches.
"I think we've been able to diffuse the situation pretty well," he said.