PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s state-chartered banks are down to 41 and have just under $22.3 billion in assets, after the largest one merged with a bank in Montana earlier this year, according to a report made Thursday to the state Banking Commission.

Great Western Bank and its $13.3 billion in assets became part of Billings-based First Interstate Bank in May. South Dakota’s largest state-chartered bank now is First Bank & Trust at Brookings with $4.2 billion in assets.

Commission chair Jeff Erickson of Sioux Falls is a past president and CEO for Great Western. He’s currently a vice chairman for American Bank & Trust, which recently relocated its main office to Sioux Falls.

Mike Dummer is the state’s deputy director for banking. He said examinations conducted in 2022 and other data indicate South Dakota’s 41 state-chartered banks are “in a good spot” with ratings of 3 to 5 on a 5-point scale.

There are just two examiner vacancies on the 38-person staff. Dummer said the state Division of Banking continues to use the career enhancement program that was developed more than a decade ago under then-director Roger Novotny. “We follow that very closely,” Dummer said.

“It may be why you keep your staff, too, because they’re always advancing, which is important,” Erickson replied.

The current director, Bret Afdahl, said advancement paths have been added for trust examiners and licensing staff, along with other changes. “It’s been a critical component,” Afdahl said.

The division recently went through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors re-accreditation process, which found several of South Dakota programs were “some of the strongest in the country,” Dummer said.

The division conducted IT examinations at five banks this year and plans to do nine next year, according to Dummer. Commissioner Steve Hayes of Presho praised that work. “I think that’s just huge,” Hayes said. “This is a huge benefit for smaller organizations like us.”

The division moved to a new location in October at 1714 Lincoln Avenue, taking over the space that previously held the South Dakota Community Foundation, next to Reinke Gray Wealth Management. The division previously was in a strip mall at 1601 N. Harrison Avenue.

“So far, so good,” Afdahl said.

“It looks to me like we’re making good progress in facilities. It’s not the Taj Mahal, but it’s a nice upgrade,” Erickson said.