About community banking

Unlike larger banks that may take deposits in one state and lend in others, community banks channel their loans to the neighborhoods where their depositors live and work, which helps local businesses and communities thrive.

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Community banks build communities

Community banks are an integral part of Main Street; they reinvest local dollars back into the community and help create local jobs. Their relationship banking philosophy is ingrained in the way they conduct business, one loan—one customer—at a time. Local reinvestment helps small businesses grow and helps families finance major purchases and build financial security.

Community banks also are nimble in using new technology platforms, supporting emerging methods of payments and advocating tougher security standards to protect small-business owners and customers from hackers and other criminals.

Find a Community Bank     Learn to Bank Locally
Business Local

Community banks support communities

A thriving community banking industry is critical to restoring jobs, creating economic opportunity for all, and realizing our economic potential as a nation. To that end, we shared with the 118th Congress our policy priorities. 

Read the Letter

Get to know community banking

As high-tech, high-touch lenders that specialize in relationship banking, community banks build better communities by prioritizing and investing in the customers and neighborhoods they serve.

— Preston Kennedy, president and CEO, Zachary Bancshares Inc., Zachary, La.

American Main Street

Community bank footprint

The information in these reports below is an ICBA analysis of FDIC branch and financial data. Included in the reports you will find information such as the number of operating community banks, assets, and more.

Read the Reports

What sets community banks apart

Local Focus: Unlike larger banks that may take deposits in one state and lend in others, community banks channel their loans to the neighborhoods where their depositors live and work, which helps local businesses and communities thrive.

Relationship Banking: Community bank officers know their customers and may consider family history and discretionary spending in making loans. Megabank loan officers apply impersonal qualification criteria, such as credit scoring, without regard to individual circumstances.

Innovation: As high-tech, high-touch local financial institutions, community banks work with their customers to ensure they have access to innovative products and services while partnering with and investing in financial technology providers. A prime example of community bank innovation is showcased through ICBA’s ThinkTECH Accelerator.

Lending Leadership to Small Business: According to the Federal Reserve’s Small Business Credit Survey: Report on Employer Firms, community banks are the small business lender of choice.

  • 81% of community bank loan applicants were satisfied with their experience, compared with 68% at large banks, 62% at finance companies, and 48% at online lenders.
  • Community banks’ net satisfaction score of 77% topped large banks by 15 points, finance companies by 25 points, and online lenders by 48 points.

Timely Decision-Making: Community banks offer nimble decision-making on business loans because decisions are made locally. Megabanks must often convene loan-approval committees located in another state, far away from their customers.

Community Engagement and Accessibility: Community bank officers are typically deeply involved in their local communities, while megabank officers are often detached from the communities where their branches are located.

As local small businesses themselves, community banks only thrive when their customers and communities flourish. They answer to Main Street. Megabanks are driven by shareholder value and answer to Wall Street.

Often referred to as America’s Favorite Lenders,
community banks:

  • Provide roughly 60% of all small business loans
  • Make more than 80% of agricultural loans
  • Have nearly 50,000 locations nationwide
  • Employ nearly 700,000 people
Community banks vs megabanks

For more resources to help tell the community banking story: Visit our marketing toolkit

Minority Banker

A Guide to Minority Banks

Learn more about how minority banks still play a crucial role to many minority and low-to-moderate-income communities and small businesses, often serving as the only safe option for them to do business. Without minority banks, many minorities and low- to-moderate-income customers would be susceptible to predatory practices, such as payday loans and car title loans that only keep them in debt.

Learn about Minority Banks