First Liberty National Bank will soon have a new name and a new regulatory charter, switching the bank from a national bank to a state bank. This change allows FLNB, which will be known as First Liberty Bank (FLB) after Dec. 1, to have a greater lending capacity. Bank customers should not experience any interruption or inconvenience as debit cards, bank routing numbers and checks will be unaffected by the change. Accounts will still be secured through FDIC insurance.
Instead of having the bank regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, which regulates all national banks, FLB will be regulated by the Texas Department of Banking and the Federal Reserve Bank.
“As we grow and continue to open locations, it has become more advantageous to have a closer relationship with the regulatory body that supervises our banking activity. Converting to a state charter will allow us to keep abreast of issues facing Texas banks as opposed to those mandated by Washington that focus on what is best for the big banks to the detriment of the community banks. Although our decision was made independently and based on what is best for our bank and our shareholders, we are part of a statewide trend of national banks converting to a state charter as the result of the current administration’s banking policies,” said Charles McGuire, chairman of the bank’s board of directors.
FLB President Kelly Stretcher said the conversion will not affect relationships with customers and shareholders.
“Although we will have a new name, the same smiling faces will be there to greet you at our same locations and hours. First Liberty Bank will continue to bring the most innovative financial products to our communities,” he said.
One of the biggest benefits of the conversion is that FLB will have larger legal lending limit. Currently, FLNB, as a national bank, has a lending limit of $7 million.
“If projects are larger than $7 million, we have had to find partners and sell off part of the loan. Our legal lending limit now will be over $11 million. As the area grows, it’s going to be needed,” Stretcher said.
Since 2016, through the leadership of McGuire and the FLNB board, the bank has added new branches in Hardin, Huffman, China, Dayton and Mont Belvieu, and grown from $145 million in loans to $310 million in loans. The Huffman location, particularly, has seen tremendous growth since it was purchased by FLNB in 2017. At that time, the Huffman bank had $1 million in loans, and all were secured by CDs and savings. Today, at that location, the bank has $25 million in deposits and $25 million in loans.
With all the banks combined, the total assets of FLNB has grown from $297 million in 2016 to $450 million in 2022.
“The bank has grown and that is partly due to the new locations being added and more people doing business with us,” Stretcher said. “Here in Liberty County, we are the largest home lender of any financial institution in the county. Our success is directly attributable to our employees and our great customers. We have been very blessed and are very fortunate, and the bank has grown and prospered over the last 6-7 years.”
What bank customers can expect
A new website is in development, which will use the URL of https://flb.bank/. The site is not working at this time but should be available in the coming days. For now, customers should continue to use the FLNB website of https://www.flnb.com/. Once the new website is up and running, visitors to the old domain will be redirected to the new site.
The online software used to check bank balances, make deposits and payments, transfer funds or to control debit card activity on the current website will be the same on the new website.
“The customer will not experience any pain with this conversion,” Stretcher said.
Currently, the bank’s technology department is working with Apple and Google for new apps that will reflect the name change. These will involve a simple update on the customer’s end through the app stores on either platform. A new logo also has been designed to reflect the name change.
Big bank ability, small bank agility
First Liberty Bank was originally founded in 1913 as Liberty State Bank. In 1925, the bank converted to a national charter and became known as First Liberty National Bank. Next year, First Liberty Bank will celebrate 110 years of being a Liberty County financial institution.
With a motto of “Integrity, Trust, Courtesy and Commitment,” Stretcher said FLB strives to be an exemplary community bank.
“We have the saying, ‘Big bank ability, small bank agility.’ We really think we can offer our customers and consumers whatever they need to conduct their business. You can still come into the bank and speak to someone and conduct your business without making an appoint,” he said.
The bank today has seven full-service locations: the main headquarters in Liberty, Dayton Financial Center and Dayton Mortgage Center in Dayton, branches in Hardin, Huffman, China, Mont Belvieu, and one loan production office in Livingston.
In addition to banking services, First Liberty Bank also provides mortgage loans, insurance for consumer and commercial customers and wealth management services for those needing financial or estate planning.