The 9 C’s: Why You Should Bank Local
April is Community Banking Month and we’re always excited to focus on spreading the message of banking local, and banking where it feels good. Our mission at ICBSD is to ensure independent community banking remains great! Members of our organization have a strong and passionate voice in the state and federal legislative processes. We are empowered to advocate for change and keep independent community banks alive and thriving!
If you’re on the fence about opting for a local, community bank – here is our list of the 9 C’s; nine reasons why a local financial institution is better for you, your neighbors, and the local economy.
Unlike those large banks that take money in some states and lend it to other states, local banks take their money, loans, etc. and put it bank into the community they’re a part of. When money going in and out of the bank stays in your area, you see a benefit on local businesses, schools, and the economy. Not to mention, many bank employees get involved in their community and take an interest in groups and organizations that need support.
You won’t likely be offered a cup of coffee or a cookie if you walk in a Wells Fargo or other big bank. However, when you’re visiting your community branch, employees value you as an individual; they’ll likely greet you by name and ask you about your family or business, because they care. In a community bank you’re not just another number, you’re a customer and you’re given the attention you need and deserve.
It’s often a misperception that local businesses = more costs. That’s not true! Fees are almost always lower at community banks. If you take the time to identify what you need and what you can afford, you’ll likely find a local financial institution will help save you money. In fact, according to Money-Rates.com, 43 percent of small banks’ checking accounts had no monthly maintenance fees compared to bigger banks, where that number drops to 25%. Many local financial institutions will also forgive or reimburse overdraft and ATM fees; mega banks like JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, however report making nearly $2 billion a year in overdraft charge.
If you’ve had to deal with a big-branch bank, you may know that if you need assistance or have questions, sitting on hold or waiting around for someone to contact you is involved. Not at a community bank! A local individual is more dedicated and invested in making banking a convenient experience for you, because they know you. Time is money, and a community bank can save you both.
When it comes to local businesses, residential building, and farms, community banks can also be more nimble when it comes to making decisions on loans, because they don’t have to source the decision to someone across the country, who doesn’t know you from Adam. The Harvard Kennedy study found default rates for residential property loans were under 4% for community banks, compared to more than 10% for big banks.
Contrary to popular belief, community banks are always looking for ways to innovate to meet customer needs. If you’re looking for options like online banking, mobile deposit, and other financial programs – look in your community! Local banks have access to a variety of secure, convenient, and reliable options. You may be pleasantly surprised to find your community financial institution offers the same products and services as those big banks that are all over the place, using cookie-cutter solutions. Instead, look for choices that are tailored to fit your needs.
The may be an obvious point by now, but when you’re working with someone who knows you personally, you’ll feel a dedication to helping you get the answers and services you need. Think of it this way: decision makers at your community bank likely know you, your family, your friends, your business… and they can take your reputation and financial stability into consideration when reviewing loans and discretionary spending. At those mega banks, loan officers are shuffling paperwork and seeing which boxes to check off based on predetermined criteria. Small banks factor what they know about your character and personal qualifications into loan decisions rather than just punching a credit score into an automated application.
Community banks bring customer focus to a whole new level because of their engagement with personal and professional matters right in your neighborhood. For example, a huge bank with a branch in your town might be unwilling to fund your local business, investment property, or agriculture loan, because they have a standard outlined for them. A local bank, on the other hand, is often more accustomed to evaluating loans in your area, and can take the bigger picture into consideration. Employees at community banks form deeper relationships with their customers, leading to higher quality service and flexible decision making.
If you’re a farmer or business owner in the area, you’re likely connected and knowing in your community. We get it! A Harvard Kennedy school study found that more than half of all small-business loans come from community bank connections, and 77% of agricultural loans are from local financial institutions. According to New York’s Federal Reserve Bank study, small businesses are 76% more likely to get approved for a loan from a community bank; that number drops to 58% when you go to a national bank.
When you establish your accounts with a local bank, you have the opportunity to make connections with the network around you. The individuals who work with you may know other suppliers, clients, and service providers that help all businesses grow and thrive.
Let’s be honest – a big part of banking is the courtesy and service you experience along the way. No one wants to be frustrated or made to feel silly when it comes to their finances. Community banks are typically the place you’ll find more courteous, customized service. In fact, you’ll likely work with the same individual over time; that person can get to know your questions, concerns, and how you like to work with financial professionals. You may find they start to feel like a personal trainer for your money – reaching out with suggestions for money health and checking in to see how they can best keep your accounts thriving.
Like we noted in #4, smaller doesn’t necessarily mean less. In fact, a community bank is often the best option if you’re looking for a financial partner to meet a more comprehensive set of needs. Whether it’s working through a lending process, getting a more competitive rate, or walking you through a process step-by-step, you’ll find what you’re looking for at a local bank.
When it comes to dealing with your finances, you want an individual, team, and bank name you trust and know will be conscientious in their decision making. You don’t have to question the ethics of how they’ll treat you or your account. Because they’re also local, they thrive when you thrive – so they’re always keeping your best interest a priority. They answer to you, their customers, their neighbors, their community … not a boardroom of decision makers looking to make more money. They know that with every choice they make, their community is directly impacted, and they hold themselves to that high standard.
There are a number of reasons to start banking with a local, community bank. This list is just a start, but gives you a lot to consider when it comes to how decisions about your money, home, farm, or business are made. You should get to bank where it feels good.