Mergerama: Provident grabs Southern Financial

Crestar became SunTrust. Guaranty got gobbled by Union Bank & Trust. Sovran briefly became NationsBank before conquering the nation as Bank of America. With all the moniker morphing, it's easy to get confused about just where you put your money (and why there isn't more of it. But that's another story...)

Now, one more bank is switching its signs. Southern Financial, the Warrenton-based bank that showed up in Charlottesville back in 2002, merged with Baltimore-based Provident Bank on May 1.

Both of Southern Financial's two Charlottesville branches– on East Market Street and Ivy Road– will operate as usual.

"We're retaining 95 percent of Southern employees and didn't close one branch," boasts the Provident president Kevin Byrnes. "From the customer's point of view," he says, "the faces are going to be the same."

While Southern's 30 central and northern Virginia branches, will remain open, Provident is closing two Tidewater branches because they fall outside its planned expansion area, Byrnes explains.

One big change locally: whereas Southern focused primarily on commercial accounts and loans, Provident will expand its options for individuals.

With more than 150 branches in Maryland, D.C., and now Virginia, Byrnes says Provident is a perfect blend of big and small. Customers will have the "sophistication of a strong regional bank," says Byrnes, but the familiar faces and customer service will be "very much a community bank."

Provident Bank changed, but not much?