Fifth Third Bancorp wants to be first in the hearts and minds of its customers. The holding company operates some 1,300 Fifth Third Bank branches, including more than 100 Bank Mart locations open seven days a week inside supermarkets, in a dozen states in the Midwest and Southeast. Its largest markets are Ohio, Michigan, and Florida. Fifth Third operates through four segments: branch banking (deposit accounts and loans for consumers and small businesses), commercial banking (lending, leasing, and syndicated and trade finance for corporate clients), consumer lending (residential mortgages, home equity loans, and credit cards), and investment advisors (private banking, brokerage, and asset management).
The company owns 39% of Vantiv, one of the country's largest payment processing firms. Fifth Third spun off part of the unit, formerly named Fifth Third Processing Solutions, in 2009 as part of a plan to create a stand-alone payment processing business. Two years later, Fifth Third Processing changed its name to Vantiv in preparation for taking itself public (which it did in 2012). Fifth Third also has board representation through Greg Carmichael and Paul Reynolds. Vantiv itself has been growing through acquisitions, such as its 2010 purchase of merchant acquirer National Processing Company. It also acquired assets from bankrupt Springbok Services, including that firm's prepaid card processing platform.
The states Fifth Third serves, especially Michigan and Florida, have been among the hardest hit markets in the financial downturn. As a result, the company has been dealing with relatively slow recoveries as well as the low interest rates and new regulations limiting fees that have impacted banks across the nation. Revenues fell in 2010 and again in 2011, largely due to the sale of its processing unit as well as lower yields on its commercial and consumer loans, but the company has been improving its loan portfolio and its credit quality has gone up. Fifth Third has been heavily active in getting permanent modifications for distressed mortgages under the Treasury Department's Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. Due to those efforts, and some cost-cutting measures, the company's profits rose by some 72% in 2011 to $1.3 billion.
In addition to strengthening its loan portfolio, Fifth Third is on the lookout for strategic growth opportunities, either through opening new branches or through buying other banks or bank branches. In late 2012 it's expanding in the St. Louis region through two new locations. The company has also targeted private banking, treasury management, and small business services as areas ripe for growth.
Fifth Third traces its unusual name to the 1908 merger of Cincinnati's Fifth National Bank and Third National Bank. – less