A new contender has entered the fray in Philly’s already crowded banking scene. Bank of Princeton, a financial institution based in – you guessed it – New Jersey has received authorization to build a banking center in Center City, on Chestnut Street, that will be completed by the end of this year. Bank of Princeton, which boasts $1.3 billion in assets, was founded in 2007. The last decade has seen the company grow by 11 locations in Mercer, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Ocean counties as well as three branches in Philadelphia and Montgomery County. The latter were acquired through a buyout of Asian-centric, three-branch failed startup MoreBank in 2010: North Philadelphia, Chinatown, and North Wales.
May saw Bank of Princeton acquire five new branches through the buyout of WSFS Financial Corp. WSFS had just purchased the Bordentown, Browns Mills, Chesterfield, Sicklerville and Sewell locations through their own buyout of Beneficial Bancorp, which WSFS acquired in March. If anything, this speaks to the sometimes ephemeral nature of local banking, and the multiple layers of history behind acquisitions.
Philadelphia is something of a hot spot for banks, and has been in recent years both within the city proper and the immediate suburbs, owing to the rapidly-increasing local economy and the influx of millennial residents seeking a banking home. Among Bank of Princeton’s small-fish competitors are Bryn Mawr Bank Corp., Meridian Bank, WSFS Bank, Fulton Bank, DNB First Bank and Univest Bank. One of the sharks of the banking ecosystem, JP Morgan Chase, has announced its ambitious and aggressive plan to open 50 Philadelphia branches in the next five years.
“I think we’ve mentioned on a number of occasions that the Philadelphia market we believe is attractive,” said Investors Bancorp Chairman and CEO Kevin Cummings. “We have a number of branches in the suburban areas of Philadelphia on the New Jersey side, and we think looking at potential transactions in that Center City, Philadelphia market could work to enhance the franchise.”