By Rebeca Romero Rainey
There are a few fundamental truths that—try as they might—noncommunity banks just can’t deny. Despite megabank advantages borne out of economies of scale, regulatory loopholes, or even tax-advantaged status, community banks continue to flourish by putting relationships first and doing right by their customers and communities.
Sometimes it means looking beyond impersonal qualification criteria when extending seed money to launch a small business or build a dream home. Often, it’s supporting local neighborhoods through financial contributions and volunteer efforts to keep Main Street vibrant and the local economy churning.
This is the legacy of community banking, and ICBA Community Banking Month is the perfect opportunity to spread the word about what makes community banking so special to current and future customers, members of the media, and policymakers. If you aren’t already planning to share your community bank’s unique story, I hope you will consider doing so. ICBA offers members a wide array of resources to make it as easy as possible for you and your staff to get your message out into your marketplace and beyond.
It’s also why ICBA developed the “Tell Your Story Toolkit,” a digital repository of customizable news releases, op-eds, social media posts and imagery. This resource helps member banks craft their individual narratives and build awareness through the power of storytelling—something I’m incredibly passionate about. The toolkit also features animated videos that further demonstrate the multiplier effect when consumers’ hard-earned deposits are reinvested back into the local economy via their neighborhood community bank.
In tandem with this month-long celebration, I’m thrilled that ICBA will announce our 18th Annual National Community Bank Service Awards, which showcase the spirit and strength of community banking and highlight the critical role community banks play in sustaining local economies. Since 2002, more than 100 community banks have been recognized for their extraordinary and generous acts of charity, which embody the virtues upon which our industry was founded.
Meanwhile, community banks can continue their forward momentum, supported by ICBA’s years-long regulatory relief agenda (among other important policy goals) to take the industry’s advocacy message directly to policymakers during the ICBA Capital Summit. Scheduled for April 28-May 1 in the nation’s capital, the summit allows community bankers to meet directly with their members of Congress to advance smarter banking policies that help level the playing field and promote financial prosperity for all. I hope to see you there! If you haven’t yet registered, please do.
As community bankers, we know that we must advocate for our banks, our customers and communities. Positive change starts with us and our willingness to step out and tell our story.
And while community bankers face challenges daily—regulatory burdens, the rapid pace of change, the list goes on. Each challenge spawns renewed opportunity to shine as relationship lenders uniquely qualified to meet the diverse and changing needs of our customers while staying true to our community banking ideals. As our chairman said during our convention a few weeks ago, “Birds fly, fish swim and community banks serve the community.” Let’s sing the virtues of community as we continue to propel our industry forward this month and well into the future.
Rebeca Romero Rainey is president and CEO of ICBA.