I have been a community banker now for over 30 years. My father was a community banker in Iowa for over 20 years. My brother has been a community banker in Missouri for over 30 years. All 3 of us have taken great pride in what used to be considered an honest and credible occupation. Somehow, over the past 8 years, there are some who have fought hard to paint all bankers with the same broad brush as greedy, dishonest, morally bankrupt people. They have worked hard to make all bankers look like crooks! I’m here to tell you there is a big difference between community banks and the corporate mega-banks that have helped destroy the reputations of so many good banks and great people.
Community bankers didn’t package up and sell bad mortgage bonds to the public. Community bankers didn’t make loans to people who lied about their income and assets. Community bankers didn’t forge applications to make loans. Community bankers didn’t put their customers and friends into products just to make more money. Community bankers didn’t gouge their customers and friends with much higher loan rates. Community bankers didn’t do any of those things because they know and care about the people they work for, their friends and neighbors. I’m tired of feeling like the bad guy!
Community bankers did work as long as we could to help people survive during the great recession. Community bankers did charge down loans and restructured them so families could stay in their houses and continue to own their businesses. Community bankers answered their phones when it would have been easier not to. Community bankers still talk to people that went through tough times at church and school functions. Community bankers still shop at businesses that went through challenges with them. When our communities succeed, we succeed. When our communities suffer, we suffer. That’s our unique connection with our customers.
Somehow a few of our politicians have managed to convince people that the bank on Main Street is just as much to blame as the bank on Wall Street. That’s simply not true. Somehow the overreaching regulations that came out of this mess have been brought down on those that didn’t cause the problems. I just don’t get it.
Now, I’m smart enough to know that there are not many people feeling sorry for us. But, I do hope that those in Small-Town America can come to understand that we, community bankers, are as dedicated today as we were 8 years ago. We have always, and will always, work hard for our customers, communicate openly and honestly with them, and honor and respect the trust they place in us.
I hope that during my remaining years in the community banking industry, we’ll be able to help restore a reputation that was so recklessly and undeservedly damaged. Community bankers are not the bad guys.
"We have always, and will always, work hard for our customers, communicate openly and honestly with them, and honor and respect the trust they place in us."