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MUNCIE — Forbes has released its 2020 list of “America’s Best Banks,” and for the third consecutive year, one of the Midwest’s legacy financial institutions ranked in the top five.

First Merchants Bank, Indiana’s second-largest financial services holding company, has been rated by Forbes as the country’s fifth best bank.

“This is a tremendous honor and demonstrates the financial success and future prospects for First Merchants clients,” said First Merchants CEO Michael C. Rechin. “Our clients’ success has and will always be the true barometer of the company’s performance. All First Merchants employees embrace this mentality and commit to providing the highest level of service to our customers and communities.”

First Merchants, rated second in Forbes’ 2019 grading of the country’s 100 largest banks, once again ranks ahead of peers like JPMorgan Chase, Fifth Third Bancorp and Citigroup. The company was rated as the fourth best U.S. bank by Forbes in 2018.

Forbes ranks the country’s 100 largest banks based on 10 metrics related to growth, profitability, capital adequacy and asset quality. Metrics include return on average tangible equity, return on average assets, net interest margin, efficiency ratio and net charge-offs as a percent of total loans. S&P Global Market Intelligence provides data, but the rankings are done exclusively by Forbes. The global media company also factored in nonperforming assets as a percent of assets, risk-based capital ratio and reserves as a percent of nonperforming assets.

In his article, Forbes reporter Antoine Gara quoted Frederick Cannon, director of research at an investment bank for the financial sector, as to why First Merchants and similar banks received such high marks.

Cannon confirmed the advantages of a client-centered approach, saying, “Relationships matter. The small and mid-cap banks have an exceptionally good ability to create personal relationships with their clients.

Commercial banking is a deposit rich endeavor. The middle market lenders still have excellent access to low-cost deposits.”

First Merchants has assets of approximately $12.3 billion and operates 130 banking offices in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.