Entering 2018, the 115th year of the First National Bank of Osakis’ existence, it is important to reflect on the vital role locally-owned and managed community banks play in personal finance, economic development, and community leadership for their small communities.
Year after year, we read articles (such as this recent one in the WSJ) narrating the consolidation of the community banking industry. Not wholly different than consolidations in the other sectors of the economy; selling out to larger ownership, operating farther away from its customers, where important decisions to communities are narrowed down to what can be quantified by projections used to excite shareholders, while operating at the margin where consumer trust is often abused.
“Of America’s 1,980 rural counties, 625 don’t have a locally owned community bank—double the number in 1994, federal data show. At least 35 counties have no bank, while about 115 are now served by just one branch.”
Based on the data in the charts below, this consolidation is especially bad for rural communities. Big banks are less interested in making the investments needed to help rural areas thrive, but they want your money. They are less interested in helping you learn the financial skills necessary to avoid their punitive fees, but they want your accounts. They are less accountable with the tremendously important personal data you entrust them with, but they want your relationship.
Additionally, our locally-owned and managed community banks face pressure from Credit Unions entering areas of business they have no historical experience in (Agriculture, Commercial, Small Business), serving populations with no common bond other than the air they breathe, and doing it with tax advantages that Banks don’t receive. All while the wealth from those communities is sent off to corporate headquarters.
Is this good for customers? Maybe the same way buying a dozen eggs for 10 cents cheaper from Wal-Mart is. Potentially a win at the check-out line, but a loss for the all the other areas that contribute to personal and community wealth.
Fortunately, all trends can change. Where you invest your money matters. At the First National Bank of Osakis we are committed to earning your trust and your business through investing in you. Whether that’s with our emphasis in the personal financial education our children need to be learning, the support our community needs to thrive, or in products that provide convenience you can trust that is backed by people you know.
If you aren’t banking local, ask yourself “why don’t I bank with a locally-owned and managed community bank.” We would be happy to hear the answers to that question, have an opportunity to show you what we have to offer, and discuss our future plans for products our customers want and need.
In 2018, we will continue to show our customers that they can, and should, expect more from their Bank. And if they do, it can make all the difference in the community they live, grew up in, or just enjoy spending time.
Investing in You,
CEO/President, FNB Osakis