Home Bank committed to the community

Published 12:07 am Sunday, March 9, 2014

Illustration by Ben Hillyer

Illustration by Ben Hillyer

A Natchez business institution dating back to the 1800s will fade into the history books next week as Britton & Koontz Bank will officially become Home Bank.

But executive members of the bank say the only major change will be the name as they hope to continue B&K’s long-standing involvement in the community.

“We have such similar cultures and values that moving from B&K to Home Bank really is not a large transition,” said Deanna Bowser, who is Home Bank’s market president in Natchez. “Home Bank is very ingrained in the community, and we’re just going to continue to do that, so it’s just an exciting time for us.”

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The long-time Natchez bank announced in November it would be acquired by Home Bancorp, the holding company for Home Bank of Lafayette, La., for $34.5 million.

B&K got its start in 1838 when brothers William A. Britton and Audley C. Britton, and businessman George M. Koontz, founded a private banking firm; the owners consolidated their interests and organized Britton & Koontz Bank in 1866.

The B&K shareholder’s approved the acquisition in January, and Home Bancorp conversion teams have been in Natchez preparing for the switch.

The process of merging the two vendors each bank uses into one system will be finalized March 17, Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Scott Sutton said.

The majority of changes affecting customers, Sutton said, won’t take place until that time. Then, customers will see new signs and receive new ATM and debit cards as well as online banking options.

“Home Bank is just thrilled about the opportunity to move into this community and work with the customers we have here,” Sutton said. “I think both banks have a community bank focus, and that’s really what brought us to the decision we made to enter this market.”

Home Bancorp has 23 locations in the Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas. B&K has three locations in Natchez, three in Baton Rouge and two in Vicksburg.

The deal marked Home Bancorp’s first expansion outside of Louisiana.

The B&K branches will be re-branded beginning Friday, but Home Bank will keep some reminders — for example, plaques inside the building — of its B&K roots.

“B&K has a long tradition of being a positive member of this community, so we certainly want to commemorate that any way we can,” Sutton said. “My belief is that B&K has always been actively involved in Natchez, and I don’t see that changing.”

Letters are being sent to B&K customers detailing the conversion process.

New ATM and debit cards that have been mailed will not be activated for use until March 17, and all B&K cards will remain active for two weeks after that date.

After March 31, customers will no longer be able to use their B&K cards.

Customers will also have access to online resources starting March 17, including online banking, bill pay service and electronic statements, which can all be accessed at home24bank.com.

The B&K online banking service will be available at bkbank.com through the close of business Friday.

Home Bank will convert two years of B&K statement history and that information will be available soon after the conversion to clients who enroll in Home Bank’s online banking.

Customers can sign up for Home Bank online banking by visiting the website, clicking on “enroll in online banking” and following the detailed steps.

Bill pay access will be available at bkbank.com through Thursday. Beginning March 17, customers must first enroll in online banking with Home Bank to access bill pay.

Mobile banking will also be available to B&K customers after they sign up with Home Bank online banking. The Home Bank mobile banking application is available for various phones and gives customers the ability to check account balances, transfer funds between accounts, make bill pay payments and more.

Home Bank was chartered in 1908 as Home Building and Loan.