Many Wisconsin bank customers shouldn’t be surprised if, by this time next year, they’re doing their banking with a new financial institution.

Bank merger announcements are off to a fast start in 2019, with four Wisconsin-based banks already saying they plan to acquire another financial institution in the state. In all of 2018, there were eight mergers of Wisconsin banks announced. In 2017, there were six.

 “I do think 2019 will be a pretty big year for M & A activity,” said Rose Oswald Poels, president and chief executive of the Wisconsin Bankers Association.

Beyond a general consolidation trend in the financial industry, there may be several factors at work in this year’s early rush of bank deals. One is concern a recession could be looming in the not-too-distant future, and bankers remember what the last recession did to the value of their financial institution.

But a possible economic downturn isn’t the only factor. In some cases, bank shareholders who invested early on have reached the time in life when they want to cash out.

Read more in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.