6415 Bridgetown Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45248
Telephone: (513) 574-0700
Fax: (513) 574-0500
Web site: https://www.eaglesavings.com
Founded: 1882 as Price Hill Eagle Loan and Building Company No. 1
Total Assets: $131.08 million (2017)
Stock Exchanges: Nasdaq
Ticker Symbol: EFBI
NAICS: 551111 Offices of Bank Holding Companies
Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Eagle Financial Bancorp, Inc., is the holding company for the Eagle Savings Bank, Ohio's oldest community bank. As of December 31, 2017, Eagle controlled assets of $131.1 million and deposits of $101.1 million. Eagle maintains three full-service branches in Cincinnati's Bridgetown area, the Delhi Township, and the Hyde Park neighborhood. The branches are supported by hundreds of automated teller machine (ATM) locations. Local residents provide the bulk of deposits, but the bank's lending market extends beyond Hamilton County, Ohio, to include Butler, Clermont, and Warren Counties in Ohio, as well as Boone, Kenton, and Campbell Counties in Kentucky, and Dearborn County, Indiana. Eagle's personal banking products include checking, savings, and money market accounts, certificates of deposit and individual retirement accounts, and mortgages. Eagle offers business customers business checking and savings accounts, and mobile banking and deposit services. Commercial lending includes real estate financing, subordinated debt, Small Business Administration loans, lines of credit, and term-debt financing. The Eagle Financial Bancorp is a public company listed on the Nasdaq.
The Eagle Savings Bank was organized in Cincinnati in July 1882 as Price Hill Eagle Loan and Building Company No. 1 by George Berndsen, Paul Litsch, Michael Hebenger, Hugh Schields, and Anthony Cook. It was part of the building and loan association movement that was emerging at that time as a way to promote savings among the working class and provide an avenue to homeownership. The new institution served the East Price Hill neighborhood of Cincinnati, and as a mutual organization it was owned by its members.
Like most of the early building and loan associations, the so-called thrift only accepted deposits a few hours each week, often using city facilities until established enough to finance a permanent home. In the case of Price Hill Eagle, the hours were from 6:00 to 8:00 on Tuesday evenings. For a place to conduct business, it rented a room in Joe Bauer's Saloon, located at Enright Avenue near Warsaw Avenue on the current site of the Price Hill Post Office.
In 1917 the thrift purchased a parcel of land near the St. Lawrence Church. An adjoining parcel was added in 1924, and at that location at 3650 Warsaw Avenue, Price Hill Eagle constructed what would be the thrift's only branch for almost the remainder of the century. All that time, Price Hill Eagle remained a modest community bank, focused on serving the needs of the local community, its customer-owners.
Price Hill Eagle survived the Great Depression of the 1930s, which was a notable accomplishment given that 9,000 banks failed during the decade. Spending related to World War II finally spurred the economy, but the thrift remained a small institution, only mentioned in the newspapers on rare occasions. For example, in 1942 the bank was robbed by a pair of armed robbers who fled with $500. They were pursued by a motorcycle patrolman unaware of the robbery but ready to dispense a speeding ticket. The robbers shot his tires, leaving him dazed in a ditch as they made their escape. In 1943 a former bookkeeper at the bank, Emma Biedenharn, pleaded guilty to three counts of embezzlement. She admitted to taking $325 but the prosecutor in the case insisted that since 1934 she had actually purloined $20,000. The thrift was again robbed by a pair of armed men in 1948, this time leaving with $700.
It was not until 1996 that Price Hill Eagle Loan and Building, now a $45 million institution, finally changed its name, becoming Eagle Savings Bank. It was part of an effort to update the institution that grew out of a survey of areas residents conducted the previous year. Bank president Gary Koester told Patrick Larkin in the Cincinnati Post in February 1997, “We changed the name because financial institutions—savings and loans especially—may face rechartering this year and to give the thrift a broader appeal and not tie it to a specific geographic location.” At the time, there was speculation that Congress would merge banks and thrift charters as part of an effort to reform the banking system.
Besides the new name, Eagle introduced new products, including checking and home equity loans. Other changes were in store as well. The thrift did not provide an ATM, although customers were issued check cards that allowed them to use ATMs in the MAC ATM system. In 1997 Eagle finally installed a drive-through window.
The biggest change came in early 1998, when after 115 years in business, Eagle finally opened a second branch, located at 5148 Delhi Pike on Cincinnati's southwest side. In the 1995 survey, residents had been nearly split between Delhi Township and Western Hills as the most desirable location for a new site. Management opted for the former and found a suitable location on Delhi Pike that had previously served as a PNC Bank branch. It was a highly visible location in the heart of the township's shopping area and near a large Kroger supermarket. There was no shortage of major bank branches in the vicinity, but Eagle positioned itself as a personable alternative to regional banks and was unfazed by the competition. At the new branch, Eagle was also able to offer safety deposit boxes for the first time. In late 1998 Eagle installed its first ATM at the Delhi Pike location.
At the turn of the new century, the Delhi banking sector experienced consolidation, which resulted in fewer community banks but created opportunities for smaller players such as Eagle. To attract the business of customers who were uncomfortable doing business with large banks that inherited their accounts through acquisition and merger, the Eagle Savings Bank increased its advertising, mostly through billboards, to lure away deposits. In 2000 it expanded its deposit base by $10 million to $51.2 million. Eagle was not able, however, to enjoy similar growth in loans. As a result, it was unable in 2000 to match the 44 percent increase in profits it had posted the prior year.
During the summer of 2011 Eagle changed its primary regulatory agency from the Office of Thrift Supervision to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the first step in the bank's conversion from mutual to stock ownership. Between 2012 and 2014 Eagle enjoyed the three most profitable years in its history. According to FDIC statistics, in June 2014 Eagle reported $90 million in deposits and $110 million in assets. As a result, it was the 34th largest bank in Greater Cincinnati.
To attract new customers and collect more deposits to fund further loan activity, Eagle made plans to expand to Cincinnati's east side, where it was already a major mortgage lender. In June 2015 Eagle opened a new branch on Edwards Road, near Hyde Park. Koester told Steve Watkins in the Cincinnati Business Courier in July 2015, “We had developed a lot of lending relationships with real estate agents in the Hyde Park area and we were fortunate to find this space, so we decided to open a full-service branch.” The building had previously housed Markarian Rugs but had sat vacant for nearly five years.
As it prepared for the conversion from mutual to stock ownership and a public offering of stock, Eagle bolstered its management team. In May 2016 it hired a new vice president of commercial lending, who brought seven years of commercial lending experience in the local market. Two months later Eagle brought in an executive vice president with 12 years of accounting, financial reporting, and other banking experience. Early the following year, a commercial lending underwriter with 30 years of experience was added to the team.
In March 2017 Eagle's board of directors approved a Plan of Conversion that called for the creation of a new state-chartered corporation, Eagle Financial Bancorp, to serve as a holding company for the bank. Shares in this corporation were to be offered to people who were depositors as of December 31, 2015, and others in a subscription and community offering. Shares would then be listed and traded on the Nasdaq. By that point Eagle held $117 million in assets, $110 million in loans, and $100 million deposits.
The mutual-to-stock conversion plan was completed on July 20, 2017, when Eagle Financial Bancorp completed its public offering of stock. The bank raised $15.7 million from the sale of 1.6 million shares of common stock at $10 per share. The proceeds could be used to increase lending and when asked by the press, Koester did not rule out the possibility of acquisitions, but he insisted that acquisitions were not the reason for the conversion to stock ownership. On July 21, the stock began trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol EFBI.
When its first year as a public company came to an end in 2017, Eagle reported assets of $131.1 million, total deposits of $101.1 million, and loans of $105.1 million. Of these loans, a little more than half were for owner-occupied residencies ($53.7 million, or 51.1 percent), the bank's historic focus. Residential construction accounted for 9.9 percent, nonowner-occupied residential properties 6.7 percent, multifamily real estate 1.9 percent, and commercial real estate and land 13.1 percent. The loan portfolio also included $12.6 million in home equity and other consumer loans and $5.5 million in commercial loans.
Looking forward, Eagle planned to continue to expand its mortgage banking operations, which had been increasing steadily since 2001. The proceeds of the stock offering were also earmarked to grow the portfolio of shorter-term, higher-yielding commercial business loans, commercial real estate loans, construction loans, home equity loans, lines of credit, and adjustable rate one- to four-family loans. To further support loan activity, the bank also hoped to increase its core deposit base, primarily through checking accounts. To achieve all these goals, Eagle was dedicated to remaining a community-oriented institution, the key, it believed, to creating a loyal customer base.
Eagle Savings Bank.
Cincinnati Federal Savings and Loan Association; Fifth Third Bank; Union savings Bank.
Brownfield, Andy. “135-Year-Old Cincinnati Savings Bank Goes Public.” Cincinnati Business Courier, July 20, 2017.
De Lombaerde, Geert. “North Side Bank Takes on West Side Flavor.” Business Courier Serving Cincinnati—Northern Kentucky, January 7, 2000, 5.
Larkin, Patrick. “115 Years Later, Eagle Savings Opens First Branch on Delhi.” Cincinnati Post, January 10, 1998.
———. “Customers Talk, and Thrift Listens.” Cincinnati Post, February 13, 1997.
Watkins, Steve. “135-Year-Old Cincinnati Savings Bank Plans to Go Public.” Cincinnati Business Courier, March 7, 2017.
———. “West Side Bank Ventures to East Side for First Time.” Cincinnati Business Courier, July 23, 2015.