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Charleston is evolving to become the south’s leading financial hub

This developing financial hub concept is not new to the south, particularly Floridian cities like Miami and Palm Beach.

New home sales in the United States slowed unexpectedly in February, according to Commerce Department data
US new home sales picked up 1.5 percent from December to January, while the median sales price increased as well, according to Commerce Department data - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File MARIO TAMA
US new home sales picked up 1.5 percent from December to January, while the median sales price increased as well, according to Commerce Department data - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File MARIO TAMA

Some cities evolve to have specialisms, such as being connected with technology or other forms of business innovation. As part of such patterns, a finance cluster that has formed in Charleston, South Carolina over the past decade. This is part of a trend whereby southern cities in the U.S. are emerging as alternatives to Wall Street for financial services.

Institutions like Fifth Third Bank, Liberty Hall Capital Partners, GAMCO Asset Management Inc., Beacon Community Bank, Huntington, Comerica and Chase Bank (which just announced an expansion in December) are all part of this shift.

This developing financial hub concept is not new to the south, particularly Floridian cities like Miami and Palm Beach. What is different is the speed at which Charleston, South Carolina, has followed suit.

Charleston is the most populous city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County. As well as finance, commercial shipping is important to the economy. The city has two shipping terminals, operated by the South Carolina Ports Authority in the Charleston metropolitan area.

While Charleston captured the interest of big financial institutions from other states, there are other examples of ‘homegrown’ business development. For instance, Beacon Community Bank is a testament to the strong startup community and homegrown talent that’s already here. South Carolina’s first startup bank in more than a decade opened its Mount Pleasant HQ in late November, and based on its rate of growth, it is projected to be a billion-dollar bank in just three years.  
  

Charleston’s attractiveness is also apparent with Liberty Hall Capital Partners, a private equity firm founded in New York City in 2011 that invests in businesses serving the aerospace and defence industries, opening a downtown Charleston office in 2017. Since then, it has shifted its home base and 2/3 of its workforce to South Carolina. One potential reason for this is Charleston’s accessibility and proximity to the aerospace and defence industry, like Boeing and Joint Base Charleston.  

More recently, Ohio-based Fifth Third Bank announced entry into the Charleston market. It’s one of the largest consumer banks in the U.S., with more than $207 billion in assets and operations now in eleven states. The bank is opening its first branch on James Island and has plans for an additional branch in Mount Pleasant, with plans to add 10 or more additional branches in the region by 2025.     

Meanwhile, GAMCO Asset Management Inc., a financial services investment company based in New York City with nearly $30 billion in assets under management, opened an office in Mount Pleasant in July, in a building it shares with Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, TD Bank and Fidelity.  

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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