Florida's banks are improving overall but a quarter of them are still pegged as problem institutions, third worst behind only Georgia and South Carolina, according to a new analysis.
The latest report from Coral Gables financial rating agency Bauer Financial shows 24.9 percent of Florida banks fall in the "troubled and problematic" category, three times worse than the national average of 7.6 percent. To be considered "troubled and problematic," a bank has to receive two stars or fewer on Bauer's five-star rating system.
Only 45 percent of banks statewide scored well enough in the third quarter to be recommended by Bauer, far shy of the 72 percent recommended rate for all banks nationwide.
Florida only has 15 zero-star banks left, down from 27 last year. However, that's largely because many of the worst banks fall off the list after they fail and their assets are sold to another institution.
Many of the more severely ailing institutions have been in the Panhandle. Tampa Bay has not had any zero star banks throughout this past year.
The relatively few recent one-star banks in the area — First Home Bank in Seminole, Florida Bank and Southern Commerce Bank — have all improved to two stars.
The latest report told a completely different tale for Florida's credit unions. About 84 percent of all credit unions statewide are recommended and a mere 1 percent are considered troubled and problematic.
Among the locally based banks and credit unions receiving five-star "superior" ratings: Central Bank of Tampa; Florida Traditions Bank in Dade City; Hillsboro Bank in Plant City; Jefferson Bank in Oldsmar; NorthStar Bank in Tampa; Raymond James Bank in St. Petersburg; TCM Bank in Tampa; Achieva Credit Union; City-County Employees Credit Union in Clearwater; Florida Central Credit Union; Florida Customs F.C.U.; Railroad and Industrial F.C.U.; St. Joseph's Hospital F.C.U.; Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union; Tampa Postal Federal Credit Union; and USF Federal Credit Union.
Bauer issues its report, in part, as a consumer guide. "While they may look alike on the outside, financial institutions can be worlds apart on their books," the company said in a statement accompanying the third-quarter release. "Know before you go."
For a full listing or specific bank and credit union ratings, go to www.bauerfinancial.com.
Jeff Harrington can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8242.