Activist investors scored victories against two community banks in recent weeks that demonstrate the risks posed by shareholders whose patience with slow growth has worn thin.

Clashes at First Financial Northwest (FFNW) in Renton, Wash., and HopFed Bancorp (HFBC) in Hopkinsville, Ky., came to a head just four months after proxy season, and they involved a common agitator: bank investor Joseph Stilwell.

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