Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Bank of Georgetown’s profit and profit growth in the most recent quarter. This version has been updated.
But no matter, Fitzgerald says now. The downturn might have helped the fledgling bank.
“We were so young and small as an institution that we just didn’t have enough time or force to get ourselves in any real trouble,” said Fitzgerald, the bank’s chairman and president.
This summer, the bank passed a milestone when it hit $1 billion in assets, making it the largest bank to the headquartered in the District — and one of the region’s most influential community banks.
Now, as Fitzgerald takes stock of the company’s progress in the past nine years, he said he plans to keep on a similar path by continuing to prioritize lending to local businesses and focusing growth within the Washington metro area.
“Nothing is changing,” Fitzgerald said. “We continue to focus on local commercial real estate, government contractors and nonprofits. Those will continue to be our key areas.”
The strategy has served the Bank of Georgetown well so far: Profits have risen steadily, year-over-year, with the exception of 2013, when they slipped 0.22 percent to $6.29 million.
In its most recent quarter, the bank posted a 19 percent increase in lending, and a 17 percent rise in deposits. Profits, meanwhile, were up 25 percent to $1.74 million from $1.39 million a year earlier.
Some analysts say Bank of Georgetown’s success may lie in its location. While competitors such as Eagle Bank in Bethesda and Cardinal Bank in Tysons Corner are headquartered outside of the District, the bulk of Bank of Georgetown’s 11 locations are centered in Northwest Washington. (The bank also has three locations in Northern Virginia and two in Maryland.)
“D.C. was a somewhat unusual market in that community banking was almost non-existent in the District itself,” said Bert Ely, a banking industry consultant based in Alexandria. “The District may have been an especially fertile market for a community bank.”
For years, Winsor and Fitzgerald ran the Bank of Georgetown together, playing off their different backgrounds and personalities. Fitzgerald, 58, was the product of a decades-long banking career, while Winsor had a more-varied trajectory as founding partner of a money-management firm and executive of a family-run chemical manufacturing business.
The two had overlapped briefly at Riggs Bank (now a part of PNC Financial Services), but didn’t begin working together until the early 2000s, when the chairman of Sequoia Bank (now part of United Bank) put them in touch.
“He had all of these connections and contacts and knowledge of different industries that helped us get started,” Fitzgerald said. “And he had that classic, ‘Let’s get this done yesterday’ mentality that kept us going.”
The two gave each other Hermès ties for Christmas every year. (One of Winsor’s ties, the one his co-founder gave him for his last Christmas, now hangs in Fitzgerald’s office.)
“We’d meet with people — attorneys, investment bankers, clients — and they would shake their heads and say, ‘You guys are so different,’” Fitzgerald said. “But that friendly friction is what made it work.”
After Winsor's unexpected death of a heart attack at age 49 two years ago, Fitzgerald took the reins. The bank made a renewed push to target government contractors, lobbyists and nonprofits in the area.
“It sort of threw everybody back on their heels,” Fitzgerald said about Winsor's death. “We had to find a way to keep moving forward.”
Looking ahead now, Fitzgerald said he isn’t planning to shift gears anytime soon. The institution has yet to acquire another bank — but that’s all right, he says.
“It’s not the priority for us right now,” Fitzgerald said. “As long as we can continue growing at about 20 percent, acquisitions are less relevant.”
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