Those are the first three words of our Mission Statement – Community Banking Matters! You may be wondering – why; why is it important to put those three words in at all; besides, aren’t all banks the same?
NO, not all banks are the same. You would think they are as “bank” has become a generic term to describe a financial institution that takes deposits, makes loans, cashes checks, sometimes offers investments and insurance and has a Keurig® in their waiting area to keep their customers happy. However, “banks” are just like trees, there are a variety of species and each has their own identifying characteristics.
Let’s begin with a definition of community banking. According to Wikipedia, a community bank is a depository institution that is typically locally owned and operated. Community banks tend to focus on the needs of the businesses and families where the bank holds branches and offices. Lending decisions are made by people who understand the local needs of families, businesses and farmers. Employees often reside within the communities they serve. As a matter of perspective, in the United States today we have slightly less than 6,000 community banks.
Just like there are 13 types of maple trees (according to my Google search results), there are different types of community banks as well. Franklin Savings Bank is an independent bank with no public shareholders; meaning that we are “owned” by our customers. Of the 6,000 community banks in business today, we are 1 of 500 remaining in the United States with this unique structure.
Now it’s time to answer the questions in the opening – why should any of this matter to you. Let’s begin with a quick fun fact from the history category; Franklin Savings Bank has been in business since 1869. That means we’ve successfully survived for 147 years – through world wars, the Great Depression, the elimination of the pony express and the invention of the computer. During these 147 years, our essential focus has been on providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses in our community and being a good corporate citizen.
There are countless examples I could cite to demonstrate how we are good corporate citizens and how we meet our customer’s financial needs. I could cite the thousands of hours our employees volunteer each year to help local non-profits, the $900,000 we have given in grants from the Fund for Community Advancement since its inception in 1997, the Scholarship Fund that Franklin Savings Bank created to support the pursuit of higher education by students in our communities, our SmileSquad which helps our community by “Paying it Forward”, or the “small stuff” like Christmas tree lightings and Fourth of July fireworks displays. I could even go on to talk about the thousands of dollars that Franklin Savings Bank invests each year to provide technology solutions so our customers can do their banking anytime, anywhere.
I’m going to keep it fairly simple and answer the question by asking a question – what would your community be like if Franklin Savings Bank wasn’t here? What would the small communities in Maine, Vermont, Iowa and Indiana be like without their community bank on the corner? What would it be like if your community bank, which is likely the cornerstone of your community, was replaced tomorrow with a branch of (insert name of a large, mega-bank here)? I would argue that the community would change dramatically and most likely not for the better.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to thank our customers and community partners for the trust they have placed in Franklin Savings Bank as a trusted advisor and partner. I feel incredibly fortunate to work for an organization that does so much for the individuals, families, businesses and communities it serves. I see first-hand the difference we make each and every day. This is why I am passionate about community banking and I am proud to be a community banker! Community Banking Matters!