Magazine article The RMA Journal

Family Ties

Magazine article The RMA Journal

Family Ties

Article excerpt

We've adapted to a great many changes in just the past three decades as technology has changed so many aspects of our lives. Yet, in our Wii and Blackberry-driven lives today, we continue to find a comfort zone in the words "community bank." Why is that?

Do we like the sound of "community bank" because it conjures feelings of family--close ties? Does it feel more approachable? Do we feel the community bank will be more responsive to our community's needs? Do we see the community bank as a place where our idea for a new business may be viewed more positively, more quickly?

As frequently as community banks have been conjectured out of existence, they are still here. Why? Because we need them. There will always be a place for a bank that can offer something that another bank cannot. And that's okay.

Keep in mind, of course, that most large banks started out as community banks. There's a family tie. That's why, at general sessions of RMA conferences, everyone has something he or she can take away. We all have some overall goals in common (safe and profitable business), and we all face some of the same challenges.

On the other hand, large banks that are headquartered in some other geography don't necessarily feel the same pressing need that exists in an individual community. And a large bank's local lending officer may have difficulty in trying to find common ground between a start-up's business plan and the credit requirements and strategic vision of the large bank.

Our larger brethren might not be real happy about some little brother or sister in the banking family nipping at their heels, but they also know that each family member has his and her function. And the bottom line is that well-managed community banks can still do well.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke closed his March 2006 remarks to the Independent Community Bankers of America by saying, "The performance of community banks over the past decade has been very impressive. …

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