Banking on Industry Growth with Current, Future Services Community Bankers Told What to Expect in Changing Industry

Article excerpt

Community bankers need to continue to provide services like they have in the past but also be prepared to adjust to the changing financial industry.

And deciding when those changes should be made is up to the leadership of each bank, Leland M. Stenehjem Jr., president of the Independent Bankers Association of America, said Monday.

Stenehjem was a guest lecturer for the 1996 Conn Graduate School of Community Banking at Oklahoma City University.

Banking, in a lot of ways, is still the same, Stenehjem told students attending the graduate banking school.

"You still have to make good loans ... be nice to your customers ... and pay good rates. But things also change.

"I think we have to hang on to the things that have made us successful, but we have to be able to take on new things," said Stenehjem, who is president of First International Bank & Trust in Fargo, N.D.

"With changing times, comes opportunities," Stenehjem said. "The secret, though, is how you turn those around for your advantage."

It is up to the leadership of each bank to decide what is best for their institution, and that includes not only expansion and downsizing but also whether or not to use new technology, according to Stenehjem.

One of the major innovations community banks are facing right now is the Internet.

"I am surprised, but pleased, by the number of community banks that have pages on the Internet," Stenehjem said.

"Banks have to make a conscious decision about whether to be on it or not" and develop a strategy for the future.

Community bankers must also be aware of what is happening in Washington, D.C. that may affect the industry, he said.

Stenehjem discussed some legislation introduced at the federal level that would affect the industry, including the recapitalization of the Savings Association Insurance Fund and FICO (financial corporation) tax. …

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