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Citizens Bank plans name change to Great Western


Citizens Bank, which operates three branches in the Des Moines area, has made several moves in recent months to make banking simpler for its customers and to spur growth.

The most visible shift is the bank’s name, which will be changed to Great Western Bank at the end of the month. The name change comes three months after Allen Shafer, 41, took over as president of the local branches.

Thousands of bank branches across the country have “citizens” in their name, and similarities among bank names tends to confuse customers, Shafer said.

“We want to build Great Western to be one of Des Moines’ great community banks,” he said.

The move is the latest step toward consolidation since Omaha-based Spectrum Bamcorp bought the failed Hartford-Carlisle Savings Bank in 2000. In the wake of that transaction, one of Hartford-Carlisle’s three branches was closed and Spectrum leased another location from the former Brenton Bank Inc. after its acquisition by Wells Fargo & Co.

Omaha attorney Deryl Hamann controls Spectrum, which owns banks in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. The company’s South Dakota banks have recently changed their name to Great Western also, Shafer said.

About two-thirds of Citizens Bank’s customers, in terms of assets, are businesses. Shafer said those clients offer the best chances for growth. The bank’s goal is to boost assets by 15 percent to 20 percent annually, he said.

One of the best paths to growth is increased visibility, Shafer said. To help boost the bank’s name recognition, the bank is planning on boosting advertising on cable television and in print, he said.

Citizens Bank’s three branches employ 35 people and have assets of about $95 million, Shafer said.

Among other changes that are less visible, the company recently merged the charters of Citizens Banks in Mount Ayr and in Princeton, Mo. with that of the Clive banks. There are 18 branches in Mount Ayr and 2 in Princeton, Shafer said. Throughout Iowa, the company has about $395 million in deposits.

That move will let customers bank at any Citizens Bank location, Shafer said. Prior to the merger, Mount Ayr customers weren’t able to perform banking transactions at Citizens Bank locations in Greater Des Moines, Shafer said.

The merger will also save Citizens Bank money, because it will cut down on the need for the banks for file separate statements with regulators, Shafer said.

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