Three Palm Beach County banks once on the verge of failure are getting stronger, according to the latest safety ratings by BauerFinancial, a research firm in Coral Gables.
Grand Bank & Trust of West Palm Beach rose to three stars, or “adequate,” in the third quarter from two stars, or “problematic,” in the second quarter. Grand Bank’s grade fell as low as zero in the years after the Great Recession.
While West Palm Beach-based Grand Bank escaped failure — a fate that claimed 70 Florida banks in five years — President Russell Greene wasn’t always sure his homegrown institution would survive.
“It was a big question mark for about 18 months,” Greene said.
He said an ill-timed expansion into the Treasure Coast nearly sank the bank he started in 1999. Grand Bank has sold its Treasure Coast operations to focus on its home turf in Palm Beach County.
Among the other banks on the mend, Anchor Commercial Bank of Juno Beach and Legacy Bank of Boca Raton both climbed to one star, or “troubled,” after long stints at zero.
“The worst is over,” said Legacy Bank President Dennis Bedley.
The three banks are small players, holding a combined 1.2 percent of the county’s deposits, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. But their improving health reflects a turnaround in the Florida economy.
Only 24.9 percent of Florida banks were rated two stars or lower as of Sept. 30, down from 35.9 percent a year ago.
In another change, Enterprise Bank of North Palm Beach is off the list after it was bought by 1st United Bank of Boca Raton this year.