Monday, June 24, 2024

Specht: Why community banks matter

by BIZ Magazine

Why do community banks, and bankers, matter, you ask? Let me tell you a little story.

It was August 1993. It is hard to believe that was nearly 30 years ago. My wife, who was carrying our firstborn son, and I had just moved to Louisiana from Alabama. It was the dawn of a new season in our lives. Little did we know what the next 30 years would bring.

The first challenge to our new life in “The Bayou State” came at the Office of Motor Vehicles. I did not know Louisiana charges sales tax when a vehicle moves from another state.

I was utterly unprepared for the tax bill and scrambled to figure out what to do. It had cost us most of our savings just to move to Louisiana. That’s when my dad introduced me to Terrell McCormick, vice president of Minden Bank & Trust Company.

“How much do you need?” Mr. McCormick asked.

“About $700,” I replied with a lump in my throat.

“Let’s do $1500 to cover anything you didn’t think of. How much can you afford to pay monthly?”

And, just like that, I was a Minden Bank & Trust Company customer.

I had many conversations with community bankers who have helped me navigate financial challenges. These people have my best interest at heart. Many of those conversations were with people you may know, like Jason Smith, Tom Martin, Rick Holland, Jack Byrd, and others. These people have become friends, mentors, and confidants. That’s what makes community banking different. We go to church together. We volunteer together. We celebrate the wins together, and we console the losses together. We are one community. That’s what the “community” in community banking means.

The recent failure of Silicon Valley Bank caused me to reflect on the state of banking in general. I reminded myself of the economic downturn in 2008, driven by the collapse of some “big banks.” 

When that chain of events happened, we felt it nationwide. All the while, community banks remained strong, helping their customers succeed. Community banks are still strong today, regardless of what happens at some hedge fund institutions like Silicon Valley Bank.

While bank names may have changed over the years, the commitment of our community bankers to our community has undoubtedly remained strong. I have great confidence in the strength of our community banks, and you should also have confidence in them.

David A. Specht Jr. is publisher and editor of BIZ. and President of Specht Newspapers, Inc.

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