Using the broadest definition of the phrase, a community bank is a financial institution that serves a specific and narrow geographic area. However, this definition doesn't touch on the culture a community bank creates both within and outside its walls. If you're looking for a bank at which to open a business account, consider these four characteristics of a true community bank.
1. True Community Banks Find Ways to Get Involved
True community banks get involved with their customers and with the community at large.
Whether they sponsor Little League teams, host food drives, attend local social meet-ups, or participate in charitable marathons and fun runs, true community banks weave themselves into the fabric of the community. They get to know their neighbors and make friends with local business owners.
Community banks know that the commercial sector of a city or county requires co-dependent relationships. Banks depend on local business owners and vice versa. If they work together toward common goals, they both prosper. Furthermore, community banks understand the value of contributing to the local culture, so they find ways to get involved. At Seacoast, investing in our local communities is such a huge part of our culture, that it was even written into our brand promises.
2. True Community Banks Strive for Perfect Customer Service Unlike national banks, community institutions don't serve millions of customers, so they don't have to reduce business account holders to mere numbers on a screen. Instead, they treat every customer as a friend and neighbor, offering attentive customer support that helps each consumer or business owner feel included and appreciated.
They believe in serving the customer rather than the needs of the bank. They will steer you toward financial decisions that set you and your business up for success -- even if it's not the most profitable option for the bank.
3. True Community Banks Put Decision-Makers in Front of Customers Big banks usually keep decision-makers and customers separate. If you walk into the bank to apply for a loan, the person who guides you through the application won't make the final decision. In fact, you'll probably never meet or speak with the decision-maker at all.
Community banks take a different approach. They operate transparently, allowing their customers to communicate with the people who make decisions about their businesses. You don't have to worry about a nameless, faceless individual making snap judgments about your financial future.
Furthermore, community banks take more factors into consideration when making decisions. They know the local economy backward and forward and they're familiar with your business and your industry. This is a powerful combination when you need a commercial real estate or fleet loan.
4. Community Banks Contribute to the Local Economy
At community banks, business owners can become more profitable thanks to the boost to the local economy.
According to the Independent Community Bankers of America, community banks in the United States provide jobs for 700,000 people and hold assets in excess of $3.5 trillion. These institutions stimulate, direct, and improve local economies, whether they're opening business accounts for entrepreneurs or extending loans to corporations.
When you bank with a community institution, you help it contribute to the economy. This profitable cycle allows the bank to continue supporting local businesses and consumers.