Our Mission is to remain an independent community bank, providing quality products and services to our customers and the community with superior value to shareholders”.
Removing Community Bank Barriers Essential for Growth
With our local and national economic recovery advancing at a frustratingly slow pace, policymakers are apparently at a loss for how to promote more substantial growth. Congress and the Federal Reserve have used up their options for fiscal and monetary stimulus. However, there is still at least one thing policymakers can do to promote our recovery—encourage the formation of more community banks.
Community banks, which operate in cities, suburbs and small towns across the country, have been the cornerstone of the nation’s financial system for more than a century. And there are many reasons why a diverse banking system is essential for our nation’s economy and the future of our communities.
For one, community banks support balanced and stable economic growth. They are highly capitalized institutions that reinvest in the communities in which they operate. As the only physical banking presence in nearly one in five U.S. counties, community banks are critical sources of financing in communities that are not served by large and regional institutions. And they are outsized drivers of local growth and development, providing approximately 60 percent of the nation’s small-business loans.
Further, community banks compete openly and fairly in the marketplace. As locally owned institutions, they are held accountable by their communities and have an inherent incentive to treat their customers right. It’s hard to take advantage of someone you sit next to at the Friday night football game or Sunday morning service.
Finally, consider the alternative. The nation’s economic and financial woes in recent years were driven by the risky practices of our nation’s largest financial firms. These unmanageable and systemically risky financial institutions wrought the Wall Street crisis and taxpayer bailouts from which we are still recovering. Community banks, on the other hand, are low-risk institutions that know their communities’ needs. And while community banks are tightly regulated, they are not propped up with taxpayer dollars like too-big-to-fail financial behemoths.
So what can we do to ensure that our nation will continue to benefit from these community-based institutions for generations to come? We can start by reducing the regulatory red tape that is inhibiting the formation of new community banks. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. policies enacted in 2009 make forming new community banks virtually impossible and have brought new-bank formation to an 80-year low. The recent launch of Bank of Bird-in-Hand, a small community bank formed in Pennsylvania to serve local Amish communities, was the first new bank to open in three years.
The answer to this problem is more flexible regulatory policies that are tailored to the risk profiles and business plans of both new bank applicants and existing community banks. The current one-size-fits-all policy that applies virtually identical regulations to Main Street community banks and Wall Street megabanks is unnecessary and a threat to community banks and more importantly, the communities they serve.
To truly recover from our nation’s latest Wall Street financial crisis—the worst since the Great Depression—community banks must be allowed to do their part. These institutions are deeply involved in the affairs of their communities and use that knowledge to support prosperity county-by-county across the nation. We must encourage the growth of the community banking industry to meet the economic and financial needs of all citizens and communities today and into the future.
David L. Conrad
President and CEO
The Citizens National Bank