Recently at the dinner table, my family had a fascinating conversation about the merits of short stories versus novels. My daughter, an avid reader, made the case that the novel is the superior form of storytelling because it allows the piece to deepen and evolve. My husband, on the other hand, argued that with a short story, every word counts, and that critical focus creates a vivid snapshot of an experience.
As they bantered back and forth, I was struck by how much the conversation reflected the nature of community banking. Relationships drive all that we do, so community bankers are in it for the long haul, sitting with our customers as they write each page of their stories. Community banking isn’t driven by a finite moment or a single transaction. Instead, it’s a journey where today’s efforts are only one chapter of the larger narrative.
Yet, we do have these intense moments in time, events that happen in spurts and unfold like parts of the larger story. Consider the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Community banks became the heroes of that particular tale by responding quickly and serving both customers and noncustomers at a much greater rate than megabanks or credit unions. We saw a need and determined a course of action, resulting in a positive experience for our customers.
I have been struck by the way the PPP opened a new chapter for community banks. As we think about what’s next for the new relationships we made through the PPP, we have an opportunity to grow and expand our relationship base. We were able to take what was a short-term, crisis-mode response and translate it into long-term customer potential.
That spirit of opportunity in relationship building enables community banks to thrive. This month’s issue explores the topics of lending best practices, growth strategies and the digital customer experience. These stories can help you think about your community bank in new ways to meet market fluctuations and customer needs.
Because while we can’t predict what the future holds, we can continue to shape the narrative with our customers and potential customers. Leading with the relationship and keeping the focus on a deeper, more meaningful dynamic while readying ourselves to respond to market changes as they arise prepares us for what’s to come. And with this expertise as our background, we’re well-positioned to continue writing new stories with our customers, now and into the future.
What you need to know
The Fourth of July celebrates independence and for 91 years, ICBA has been advocating for independent community banks. We have been and will continue to be here for you. We hope you all had a Happy Independence Day!
Connect with Rebeca @romerorainey.