Millennials are starting more companies, managing bigger staffs, and targeting higher profits than their baby boom predecessors, according to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report.
So, it’s no surprise that career and professional development are at the forefront of millennial’s minds. If you’re among the millennial set you may already be utilizing the top online tools to bolster your career, but you could be overlooking one of the most rewarding ways to catapult your professional development: community involvement.
The importance of local involvement is something community bankers identify with as relationship-based lenders who routinely extend their services beyond their velvet ropes and into their neighborhoods for the benefit of locals who call it home. Community banks prove that by getting involved, you can make powerful connections while building a flourishing, thriving neighborhood.
Woodlands Bank in Williamsport, Pa., is just one example of the support and involvement community banks are known for. The bank launched a media campaign supporting area businesses and nonprofits. As part of its campaign, Woodlands Bank identified four local nonprofits representing four different areas of need in the community—shelter, food, youth development and clothing—and provided monetary support when customers opened an account or interacted with the bank’s Facebook page. More than 9,500 meals, 100 nights of shelter, 90 outfits and 1,000 hours of activities were generated during the three-month initiative
As you set your goals for the New Year, think about making your community part of your career and personal growth plan. A local approach to your goals can propel you further than you think.
Need more reasons to get involved in your area? Learn how loving your community can help you:
1. Gain Valuable Networking Opportunities
You don’t have to attend formal networking events to meet other business owners and like-minded professionals in your area.
By attending volunteer events, you’ll encounter other professionals and residents in more low-pressure settings, helping you create more powerful connections than merely searching LinkedIn.
As a bonus, your fellow volunteers may end up as future customers, partners, mentors or investors.
Overwhelmed about where you can find other local entrepreneurs, leaders and professionals to connect with? Check in with your local community bank to see if they offer any networking opportunities for entrepreneurs in the community.
Eastern Virginia Bank’s POWER (Potential of Women Entrepreneurs Realized) program includes a combination of educational events, networking opportunities and enhanced bank services. “We found that so many of the women business owners had no place to turn for advice, such as writing business plans or getting financing,” says Gail Hubbard, the POWER program manager, “so education is a huge part of the program.” Connecting female business owners with one another at POWER events, through social media and via a membership directory, is a key component of the program, Hubbard says.
2. Add Skills to Your Résumé
According to the 2016 Deloitte Impact Survey, 92 percent of respondents agree that volunteering improves professional skill sets.
Look for volunteer opportunities in your community that are tied to your professional goals while challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone. Learning new skills is exciting and you’ll also gain fresh experiences to add to your résumé and professional profiles.
3. Reflect Positively on Your Growing Small Business & Colleagues
By volunteering and investing your time into your community, you’ll show your peers and colleagues that you’re a team player who values growth and improvement on a local level.
The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 revealed that just more than half (54 percent) of millennials are provided with opportunities to contribute to charities/good causes in their workplaces. Those provided with such opportunities in the workplace, however, show a greater level of loyalty, have a more positive opinion of business behavior, and are less pessimistic about the general social situation.
What does that mean for you as a leader in your office or as a small business owner? It means, you can help improve your company’s morale and get other professionals involved, encouraging a tighter knit, loyal and engaged group of colleagues and employees.
“I found the bank could be used as a catalyst to improve the community as a whole, said Jeff Oody’s ICBA’s 2016 Community Banker of the Year. When the assistant police chief in Starke, Fla., asked bank employees for help raising $5,000 for underprivileged kids, the community banker pledged to spend Christmas Eve dressed as an elf, dispensing candy if the team could double their contributions. In the end, more than $10,248 was raised, allowing seven-dozen grateful children to purchase clothing and gifts last December. Overall staff participation in volunteer civic activities is up 100 percent at the bank and its fundraising efforts dwarf previous levels since Oody became president four years ago.
4. Grow as a Leader
Not quite ready for that top leadership position at your company? Getting more involved in your community gives you access to volunteer leadership positions, where you can grow and prepare yourself for that next big career jump.
“Serving on your homeowners’ association or PTA board, coaching a little league team, or joining a local Toastmaster’s can teach important lessons about conflict resolution, team building and strong communication, all of which can help you become a leader who helps others reach their full potential,” says ICBA’s chairman Rebeca Romero Rainey. The third-generation community banker serves as chairman and CEO of Centinel Bank of Taos, N.M. and believes passionately in the potential of tomorrow’s leaders to transform lives and organizations. The bank offers college scholarships to local high school students and encourages staff attendance at leadership development conferences.
It’s easy to see how community involvement and volunteering can provide valuable ways to grow your skill set and meet influencers in your area. Need some inspiration to get started? Consider the following:
- Looking for a cause that’s important to you? Don’t be afraid to organize a group yourself. This is also a great way to grow those leadership skills firsthand!
- Partner with other small business owners or local businesses and organize a fundraiser or event.
- Write an op-ed about something important to you or your industry.
- Get to know your local media and position yourself as a subject matter expert who can provide a unique perspective.
- Volunteer your skills pro-bono. Local nonprofits will thank you!
- Become a member or board member of a local charity. This is an excellent way to grow your skill set and meet other professionals in the community.
- Coach or mentor young professionals just starting out or attending college.
Looking for additional ways to get involved in your area? Look up your local community bank and see how they’re helping (and join in)! Already partnered with a community bank? Join our conversation on twitter and tell us how getting involved in your community has benefited you and helped you grow professionally and personally. Send us a short video @ICBA #ILoveMyCommunityBank or email Carissa.email@example.com with a written or video testimonial.
Making Sense of Views on Money
Ever heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? The same can be said for money. Because while money has a determined measure of value, its personal value to individuals is heavily influenced by deeply held beliefs.
Where do these ideas come from, and how do they drive our financial decisions? According to the Psychology of Money feature in the latest Independent Banker magazine, these ideas are shaped during childhood and can impact our relationship with money throughout adulthood.
In the case of a deteriorating economy and rising unemployment, for instance, people instinctively hoard resources—increasing savings and cutting spending.
For millennials, the imprint of those hardships during their formative years may leave a lasting impression that will leave some leery of incurring debt, opting for debit over credit cards for purchases, according to a Bankrate survey.
Beliefs as Financial Drivers
Community bankers can use these insights to better serve customers and help them with their financial goals. For example, knowing that at times of high money anxiety people tend to park funds in checking and savings accounts, despite the returns they can earn in long-term CDs, can help banks prepare for an influx of cash during a future recessionary cycle.
In Davenport, Fla. CenterState Bank is experimenting with a goal-oriented savings account. Instead of paying ongoing interest, the account pays a bonus if the saver hits a certain goal, like saving for a home over a five-year period.
Incentives works, but it’s a fine balance to walk, cautions Stephan Meier, an economics professor and former Federal Reserve economist.
In one of Meier’s studies, a financial institution sent homeowners a legitimate offer to refinance that would enable them to save hundreds of dollars per month. Just half of the solicited consumers jumped at the deal because they didn’t trust the motives of the bank. And when the deal was sweetened with a gift card for those who refinanced, fewer still bit because they were suspicious.
Overall, community banks have an advantage because they are more likely to be trusted. By using their arsenal of tools (such as education, incentives and support services) to help steer people away from flawed decisions towards better financial choices, community banks may be able to further raise their value in the eyes of their customers.
The Top 4 Characteristics that Make Millennials Excellent Entrepreneurs
Although Millennials are sometimes plagued by negative professional traits and stereotypes, there are specific characteristics of young professionals that make them great candidates for small business ownership. In fact, entrepreneurship is particularly enticing to Millennials, who increasingly forgo more traditional career paths in favor of transforming new ideas and dreams into thriving small businesses and startups.
So what exactly draws Millennials to small business ownership and helps them thrive among the challenges of entrepreneurship?
Millennials Are Risk-Taking Optimists
Young professionals are much more willing to take a risk on what may seem to be a lofty goal or dream. Not only are Millennials eager to take risks, they’re more optimistic that they’ll succeed. While other generations may plan endeavors around their education levels or years of professional experience, Millennials aren’t afraid to jump into the deep end of entrepreneurship and build their own business.
What’s also interesting is the age in which different generations start their businesses. Baby boomers launched their small businesses at an average age of 35 while Millennials are starting their own businesses at the average age of 27 (according to 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report).
They’re Extremely Tech Savvy
While 20 and 30-something professionals are more fearless than their baby boomer predecessors when it comes to starting a small business, they’re aided by unprecedented tech savviness. While it is easier to start a small business than it may have been in the past, Millennials are taking advantage of their knowledge of technology and using it to build, market and grow efficient businesses at younger ages.
Millennials are Not Afraid of a Little Debt
Despite the financial caution of generations preceding Millennials, young professionals are not afraid of small business loans, credit card debt and crowdfunding as a means of financially powering their ideas and dreams. In addition, they’re increasingly reliant on mobile banking and technology to keep up with their busy, technology heavy lifestyles while looking to their communities for support.
Millennial Local Business Endeavors Are Personal
Young professionals are more interested in frequenting other small businesses and local establishments in contrast with nationwide chains. In the past ten years, farmer’s markets have more than doubled, while traditional (national) grocers have lost 15 percent. This paradigm shift has been driven in part by the purchasing habits of Millennials and cultural shifts. Although Gen X and Gen Y love supporting local businesses for feel good reasons, they also love the customized, personal service they receive on a local level.
As supporters of local community banks, independent shops and restaurants, Millennials understand and are attracted to the unique comradery of small businesses and their role in serving the economic needs of the local community. This, in turn, drives their increasing interest in serving their neighborhoods on a local level as small business owners themselves.
As the holiday season approaches, it’s more important than ever to support the local businesses that help make our communities great! Do you love supporting your local community by shopping, dining and banking locally? Make a quick video telling us why you love your community bank and send it to Carissa.firstname.lastname@example.org or @ICBA on Twitter using the hashtag #ILoveMyCommunityBank.
Keeping Cyber-Criminals at Bay in Today’s Connected World
Americans are more connected than ever. We’re more apt to notice a missing phone before a missing wallet. More inclined to send an instantaneous text or email than a letter. And increasingly likely to conduct financial transactions using a smart device from the comfort of our home. Could Alexander Graham Bell ever have imagined such a reality? Surely the creators of The Jetsons must have.
But all that convenience comes at a price—one that has left consumers increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Reported fraud instances are up 25 percent this year even as new technology and enhanced security protocols like chip cards and multi-factor authentication are implemented to stave off emerging threats. So what’s a banker to do?
If you’re Peoples State Bank of Prairie du Chien, Wis.; Farmers & Merchants Bank of Berlin, Wis.; or New Tripoli Bank in Pennsylvania, you take part in a national movement to ensure that every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. All three banks:
- have been recognized as National Cyber Security Awareness Month Champions by the National Cyber Security Alliance for helping promote a safer, more secure Internet;
- outline their security practices to safeguard their customers personal and financial account information; and
- provide links to industry resources to help consumers limit their exposure or report suspected fraudulent activity to law enforcement.
People State Bank also provides periodic training for employees. And as part of its “knowledge is power” mantra, the community bank offers details on the latest security alerts for customers.
Farmers & Merchants Bank has a similar “forewarned is forearmed” approach to data security, using its newsletter to remind customers of its information-collection policies and products geared to diminish the risk of debit fraud and help identify fraudulent checks.
Meanwhile, New Tripoli Bank uses its Web presence to outline the most common point of attack for its commercial clientele—business e-mail compromise—and how they can protect their businesses in the event of a compromised account.
With recent legislation and support from the White House, cybersecurity remains a popular topic of discussion, and rightfully so. If each of us does our part—implementing stronger security practices and raising community awareness—everyone will benefit from a safer online world that even the Jetsons can envy.
Weathering a Natural Disaster
All too often we are reminded of Mother Nature’s wrath. Whether it’s last month’s torrential flood waters pouring down on Louisiana or this summer’s wildfires blazing a trail through California, the fragility and power of our ecosystem is on full display.
But as fires are doused, floodwaters recede, and the ground beneath us stabilizes, the fortitude of the human spirit emerges—determined to restore order and return a sense of normalcy.
Offering a helping hand to pick up the pieces and move forward are the nation’s community bankers, who are at the ready with a hot meal, financial assistance, or loan modification to help their customers and neighbors in their time of need. It’s this sense of community and our more than 200 years of history that has forged a bond that no natural disaster can permanently tear asunder.
“We had people visit us in the parking lot as well as had a drive-through available for those to get a hot meal and share their stories,” said John D’Angelo, president and CEO of Investar Bank in Baton Rouge, La. After opening its doors following the severe storms, bank volunteers lined up to serve 1,200 hot lunches and deliver meals and water to those in need.
Because of their hometown roots, customers also rely on their community banks to establish and promote financial assistance drives, like former NFL player Todd McClure. The Baton Rouge native reached out to his community bank, Bank of Zachary, and two local non-profits to expand its GoFundMe drive under a 501(c) umbrella in support of flood victims in Zachary, La.
That’s why ICBA Bancard’s subsidiary, TCM Bank, is supporting a Red Cross donation drive and has also pledged weather-related disaster assistance to its agent bank cardholders. For instance, the bank is offering to waive late fees, provide free payments over the phone, and work on behalf of its customers to document hardship requests.
“We have had widespread flooding before, and we have had devastating floods before, but this is both widespread and devastating,” said Preston Kennedy, president and CEO of Bank of Zachary. “No doubt, federal assistance will be needed, but the vast majority of these people are doing everything within their own power to help themselves.”
Providing a Helping Hand for Homeownership
June is a milestone month for many reasons. It’s the official start of summer, the end of the school year and the season in which many families begin the home-buying process.
For many families, the path to homeownership starts with a call to a financial institution to take advantage of today’s low interest rates or new programs that offer easier and more affordable options. Community banks are a great resource to help these families determine the right time to buy a home and navigate the process.
Community banks also specialize in non-traditional financing programs that can help families overcome challenges to homeownership and obtain their dream home. Community banks focus on building one-on-one relationships with their customers and can make loans to individuals that big banks won’t make. And because they live in the communities they serve, community bankers have a personal stake in helping their neighborhoods and hometowns flourish.
All Together Now
That was the case for Eddie Jean Smith, who long dreamed of being a homeowner. Last year, Habitat for Humanity partnered with nine banks in Jackson, Miss., to build a home for Eddie and her two children.
These banks—including ICBA members Origin Bank, First Commercial Bank and BankFirst Financial Services— have supported Habitat for Humanity through the years by financing housing, sponsoring events and serving on boards and committees. But 2015 was the first time employees of all nine participating banks pitched in to build a home together.
The collaboration has the “potential to be a catalyst for rebirth and transformation” of Greenview Drive—a once-thriving neighborhood in South Jackson, said Cindy Griffin, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area.
Ripple Effect—Leading the Charge
Also last spring Citizens Bank in Kilgore, Texas, took the lead on a similar project on South Street to help a mother and her three young children on the path to homeownership. Thanks to a $5,000 donation (matched 3:1 by the regional Federal Home Loan Bank) and 900 volunteer hours by Citizens Bank employees and their spouses, the family will be in its new home this month.
“Our partnership with Kilgore Habitat harnesses the power of financial capital with tremendous volunteer efforts to revitalize a local community,” said Laura Rebouche', virtual banking center and marketing manager at the bank.
This collective dedication of a local community to empower families and individuals, help rebuild neighborhoods and strengthen local economies is at the heart of community banking. For example, at this year’s annual convention, ICBA Community Banking LIVE® in New Orleans, community bankers participated in a day of service to help rebuild homes that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Community bankers take great pride in strengthening their communities. Whether it’s walking customers through the home-buying process, providing funding or offering a helping hand to a local charity, community bankers work hard to help their customers realize the dream of homeownership—one home, one community at a time. To find a community bank near you, visit www.banklocally.org. To learn more about community banks and services they offer, visit www.icba.org.
Community Bankers: Difference Makers
Although April is Community Banking Month, we see Community Banks and their employees giving back and making a difference all year long. Take a look at just some of the many examples of how community banks impact their communities!
Videos: Community Bankers Give Back
How Community Bankers are Celebrating