Regions Financial Corporation traces its roots back to three Alabama-based banks who became original affiliates of First Alabama Bancshares, Inc., chartered in 1970 as the first multi-bank holding company in the state of Alabama. Those three banks are: the First National Bank of Huntsville, chartered in 1856, the First National Bank of Montgomery, opened in 1871, and the Exchange Security Bank of Birmingham.
The Exchange Bank, an institution organized in Birmingham during the spring of 1928, started with capital totaling $35,000 and in 1947 moved to Tenth Avenue and 20th Street South. The new building was the most modern bank structure in the city and brought Birmingham the first drive-in teller window and the first bank parking lot. It also set the standard for other banks by being one of the most modern and customer-focused banks in the South. The Exchange Bank had grown to more than $19 million in April of 1957 when it consolidated with the Security Commercial Bank to become the Exchange Security Bank.
In 1970, a small group of Alabama bankers and businessmen got together to form the first multi-banking holding company in Alabama. Their proposal was grounded in one idea: sound banking principles and new growth opportunities could be combined to create a stronger financial institution for the state. These banking pioneers overcame legal and regulatory hurdles as well as opposition from the banking industry in the state. Finally, in July 1971, the three Alabama banks joined to form Alabama’s first multi-bank company. With the combination of three respected banks, the holding company began operations with a total of $543 million in assets and 40 locations in Birmingham, Huntsville and Montgomery.
The Birmingham, Huntsville and Montgomery banks formed the nucleus of what is now Regions, giving the company a strong presence in three of the four largest metropolitan areas of the state. The bank quickly expanded its market by acquiring more banks. In less than four years, First Alabama’s assets doubled – from $543 million in 1971 to $1.2 billion at the end of 1974.