ABA Banking Journal - October 2012 - (Page 40)

feature story COMMUNITY BANKS’ FUTURE A matter of Community banks’ survival hinges not only on political involvement, but making the best of the their strengths By Steve Cocheo, executive editor & digital content manager T he post-crisis period has been rough on many community banks, between difficult economies and a growing compliance burden. Dire predictions have been heard—you’ll read some here—and hallway talk at conferences has grown grim. In response, Dorothy Savarese has one word: Trust. One word, with two meanings. In one sense, Savarese, president and CEO of $2.2 billion-assets Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, refers to trust services. Not that she holds up this line of business as a community bank savior. But Savarese pulls out her bank’s experiences with Trust like a gauntlet when some say community banks can’t hope to compete with giants with departments bigger than their entire workforces. “The idea is not to face the competition head on,” says Savarese, “but to outmaneuver them.” Years ago, Savarese decided to start a trust department. Some fellow community bankers told her that she was crazy. But she persisted—customers had told Orleans, Mass.-based Cape Cod Five that they wanted a local choice for trust service. “They recognized that we are not a Fidelity,” she says. And big firms will always have offerings with juicier returns. But what her bank could be, she realized, is a local provider, offering a local solution. “We know our customers,” she declares. Initially, the bank tried being a conduit for others’ products, but focus groups sent this mes- sage: We want services from you. The bank shifted approaches and Trust turned into a good—and local—business. A key difference, Savarese explains, between her bank and out-of-area competitors is that the rivals see Cape Cod and environs as part of a region. “We, on the other hand, understand the differences between each of our market’s villages,” says Savarese. That’s also part of how the bank became, she says with obvious pride, the area’s largest multifamily- and affordable-home lender. “We have a 360-degree view,” Savarese says. And then there’s that second meaning of trust— trust between people. In an era when fraud and recklessness have besmirched the financial services business with a wide brush, community banks still command customer trust, Savarese points out. She’s not alone. First National Bank of Waverly, Kan., Chairman and CEO Craig Meader sees institutions like his $72.3 million-assets bank as “doing a better job of helping customers navigate shark-infested waters.” Indeed, even without sharks, Keith Pollek, president and CEO at Fox River State Bank, in Burlington, Wis., has seen something of a boomerang effect emerge at his $87.9 million-asset institution. “We’re seeing more and more people who tried banking via some 1-800 number or through the internet, who had negative experiences as a result, coming back,” says Pollek. He says that the bank’s marketing slogan has proven apt, for such return- 40 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | october 2012 illustration: Krivosheev vitaly/shutterstocK.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - October 2012

ABA Banking Journal - October 2012
Contents
Chairman’s View
Editor’s Column
The Economy
Bank Notes
Picture This
Ag bank rebrands—literally
Pass the Aspirin
Tech Topics
Ready for the leadership ride
Community Bank Survival: Matter of attitude?
Card biz: Playing the hand you’re dealt
ABA At Your Service
100 years of service to farmers
Compliance Inbox
Legal Issues
First Person

ABA Banking Journal - October 2012

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