First Citizens Bank: A North Carolina staple for three generations and counting

October 9, 2018

First Citizens Bank began as a small-town North Carolina bank with a single branch in 1898.

Managed by the Holding family for three generations and counting, First Citizens today is the largest family-controlled bank in the country. With more than 500 branches in 19 states, it’s remained a steady and safe asset to Americans for 120 years.

When R.P. Holding was president in 1935, he guided First Citizens through the Great Depression and World War II. Much more recently, in the 2008 recession, First Citizens was one of the few banks that had no fiscal trouble or need for a government handout. In fact, First Citizens helped bail out numerous struggling institutions at the time.  

But what’s most impressive about this bank is its ability to forge strong roots and connections in each and every community they serve, within and beyond their branch doors.

“What our background provides is a longer-term perspective towards things,” said Asheville area executive Greg Burnette. “We don’t change with the wind. We’re able to focus on steady, long-term relationships with our clients.”

In the Asheville area, Greg leads more than 200 bankers at 30 branches. Beyond traditional banking, First Citizens provides services with wealth management, business services, treasury services, insurance services, leasing and much more.

“When a client walks into our branch, one of our associates immediately engages in high-level discussion to understand their needs,” Greg said.

“That associate becomes the client’s point-of-contact and relationship manager, helping them build out a team of specialists that range from merchant processing to treasury management to any business service imaginable.”

First Citizens’ culture of service strengthens its community relationships even further. Greg especially sees the value of Chamber membership as a way to support local business and families.

“We really see the impact a Chamber can make in connecting business with the community. We encourage our bankers to get engaged deeply–also serving on nonprofit boards, with economic development groups, schools and hospitals. We help make it work with their schedules because it’s important to us.”

This familial culture is just as widespread within the bank’s walls.

“I’ve been with First Citizens for 28 years. It’s not uncommon for associates to be with us for 30-40 years. They’re attracted to our culture–our high levels of integrity and commitment. That comes from having a family-controlled business.”

Since 1898, employees have gravitated towards these values, and customers have counted on them.

“For every First Citizens customer, now or in the future, we make a simple promise: We will always live and work by the values that have distinguished us since the day we opened our doors.”