Message from the President
#OurLegacyForward: The Promise to Generations
In preparing our annual report and letter to shareholders, we find ourselves in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis that is having a profound impact on the world and causing a deep contraction in vast areas of our economy. As a result, many people and businesses are facing significant challenges.
Our first priority during this time is the health and safety of our employees and customers. We have made operational adjustments to ensure that our employees are safe and that our customers have uninterrupted access to their accounts and the ability to connect with us for any assistance needed.
For almost 100-years, Citizens Trust Bank has built its reputation on being there for our customers and communities, especially in the midst of unparalleled and critical times. This time is no different.
Our actions during this global crisis are essential to saving small businesses and the communities they support for years to come.
During these extraordinary times, we are proud to say our commitment to our values and mission are resonating
stronger than ever. One of many examples include the tremendous effort and resources being put forth to
ensure our customers and small businesses get access to the assistance provided under the CARES ACT, more
specifically the SBA 7(a) Payroll Protection Program.
This program was established to provide much needed economic relief to small businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19. Your Bank’s participation in this program helped guide community businesses through the qualification process and ultimately funded loans to
support their businesses. These efforts are requiring tremendous sacrifice and strain on human resources but yielding tremendous
benefits in saving businesses, jobs and stabilizing communities. For your leaders and associates this has been extremely rewarding.
Though we are working diligently to help our customers, we are uncertain of the long term impact and duration of this pandemic.
As you might imagine, the strategies we began the year with may look very different from the strategies necessary to run our Company when
we emerge from the crisis.
Currently, as we deal with the effects of the pandemic, we will remain focused on what we can do to remain strong and well positioned to support our team, our customers and communities. Over the last two decades, we have weathered some challenging times, “the Great Recession”, and during this pandemic we have the same resilience and fortitude.
We are proud and grateful for our associates’ commitment, highlighted with a remarkable spirit and selflessness, to providing unrelenting support to our customers during a time when they have personal concerns around the safety and health of their own families. I want to thank
our Board of Directors and our senior leaders for the exceptional leadership they have exhibited under the most difficult circumstances.
Our thoughts also remain with the communities and individuals most deeply hit by the COVID-19 crisis, including healthcare workers, first responders and all of our communities unsung heroes.
We entered the crisis in a position of strength. 2019 was another strong year for the Company as we hit some meaningful milestones that
validated our strategy. The following key performance indicators show how each year we become a more competitive and dynamic
• We paid a historic $0.50 per share dividend, which included a $0.20 per share special dividend, to our shareholders representing
a 100% increase over prior year.
• We generated historic lending production of over $65 million increasing loans outstanding to approximately $270 million,
representing a 3% increase over prior year.
• We had growth in deposits of over $13.7 million or 4% over prior year.
• We had another strong year of pre-tax earnings of approximately $4.8 million impacted by elevated operating expenses
due to decisions to invest in technology and other one-time charges.
• We have a strong capital position with a Tier I Capital Ratio of approximately 16% as of December 31, 2019.
During 2019, the risk profile of our balance sheet was solid. The interest income from our core earning assets grew significantly
from $15.9 million in 2018 to over $17 million in 2019, continuing the trend of yielding excellent loan penetration throughout our Georgia and Alabama footprint, while simultaneously, expanding into new markets in Florida, Tennessee,South Carolina and Mississippi.
Our company is uniquely positioned with a culture based on high-touch customer responsiveness, integrity and teamwork. This combination gives your Company a competitive advantage in serving customers and attracting outstanding team members, while driving a high level of financial performance.
While we are proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past year, our executive management team is passionate about continuing to lay the foundation necessary to execute our strategies and move our legacy forward. As we look ahead to 2020 and beyond, we are
Elevate our customer experience and transform the way we deliver our services.
Innovate and continue to reinforce a culture of creative and inspired thinking.
Collaborate and work together to transform lives and build stronger communities for future generations.
Our guiding principles, our six strategic pillars – Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Innovative Solutions, Inspired
People, Community Impact, and Financial Success – remain at the core of our continued progress and success. Execution of these
priorities is critical to our promise to deliver our customers financial solutions that will enhance their ability to live their financial
lives, now and in the future.
In 2020, we will pursue deeper relationships with our customers through an enhanced customer experience, alongside a deeper
commitment with our teammates to reach our common goals. To reimagine and transform our ability to deliver the right solutions to our customers in a smarter and more efficient way, we are making investments in technology and changing our core processing partner
which will allow us to elevate our customer experience and transform the way we deliver our service.
Further, it will give us the ability to provide a more pleasurable experience for our customers as well as a more expansive suite
of solutions to meet their financial needs; it will create more efficient workflows; and it will give us access to more timely and
improved financial information to better run our business. That’s a win for everyone.
Two of our strategic pillars (inspired people and community impact) are embedded in the value of people working together. At Citizens Trust Bank, collaboration is internal – how we respect, respond and inspire each other as a team and external – how we respect, engage and serve our customers. We recognize both are key ingredients to our success.
Initiated in 2019 and concluding in 2020, our team is committed to ProjectElevate. ProjectElevate is a sizable commitment that
requires collaboration across all business lines to execute on a successful transition of our core operating system. This collaboration will
provide tangible benefits to our customers and our Company.
We value the importance of our associates and their development. Therefore, during 2019 we solicited the collaboration of our leaders and instituted a Leadership Development Academy to groom and inspire the leadership of the future. This was our first year, and we continue to pursue opportunities to enhance and expand the reach of the program.
Externally, we aspire to continuously engage and collaborate with our customers to meet their financial needs how and when they need us.
We engaged our community through several community impact initiatives…from hosting financial education seminars, homebuyer’s seminars for thousands of potential homeowners, estate planning seminars, customer appreciation mixers, to serving on capital-centered community panels and partnering with local professional organizations.
During 2019, we are proud of how we engaged and collaborated with our community.
In order to keep pace and serve our customers in a manner they deserve, it is imperative that we persist in our investment in technology ad our core operating infrastructure to support both their current and future needs. This past year, we didn’t just want to think out of the box, we wanted to remove the box. The new norm is: our industry continues to rapidly change and if we don’t reimagine, innovate and change along with it, we will cease to remain effective.
At Citizens Trust Bank, we are committed to improving our customer experience to best in class. We are committed to continue to evolve and improve their engagement with us whether through face to face interaction or engagement through their digital experience. A pleasurable customer experience is our main priority.
We have taken steps to increase the effectiveness of our digital experience, and to ensure maximum reliability for our increasingly larger community of online customers. As a community bank, we leveraged vendor partnerships to increase our organizational efficiency while also lowering operational cost.
Our Present. Our Future. #OurLegacyForward
Although our Company is fortunate to enjoy a highly respected brand and longstanding legacy, we realize we are operating in a challenging and rapidly changing environment. We believe now more than ever being a community bank is a great place to be. It allows the nimbleness and flexibility necessary to operate in a changing business environment yet add great value and much needed support to its customers.
We are proud to be a community bank and on the front line working with our customers to navigate through this pandemic. We are well-positioned, and strongly capitalized. Our team and our commitment cause us to be optimistic about the future. We recognize the challenges that may lie ahead. We will confront the challenges, but will focus on the opportunities to expand and build new relationships, to attract new talent, and to differentiate and grow our Company.
After all, this is Citizens Trust Bank’s legacy, and our promise to future generations.