I had just left the Arizona Biltmore, hopped in the cab headed for the airport. My talkative driver inquires of my time in Arizona – was I here on vacation?
“No” I reply. “Work. A conference. For bankers.”
“Oh. The bad guys.”
If you read or watch the national news, perhaps that’s the impression you could come away with. Fees. Mistaken foreclosures. I, of course, enlightened my talkative cabbie – the bankers attending our conference were quite lovely and focused on doing the best at what they do best – banking. Many of them were community bankers.
After meeting these bankers in Phoenix, I was pleased to read this by Tom Wilbur, President/CEO of BANK VI in Salina, Kansas. I encourage you to read it; here’s an excerpt:
As a community bank, my team is mostly made up of neighbors and friends of yours—people who have the same aspirations and dreams that you do. They want to raise a family here. They have an interest and a passionate commitment to improving the quality of life in this area. They are homeowners. They are dads and moms, grandmas and grandpas, sons and daughters. People on my team are board members in local non-profit organizations, often involved in outreach to feed people who are hungry in our community, and they sing in the local church choir. Many of you recognize me as an entity that supports your little league baseball team, or helps our area with volunteers who work with seniors. I’ve walked the highways picking up trash, and I donate money to area arts, civic, and education programs.
If you want to meet the President, Vice President, or Manager of my community bank—you can generally walk in and say hello. Any of these folks will be happy to see you, and listen for opportunities to serve and help you. A community bank is generally a small business—a small business trying to grow in direct partnership with our town, improving the quality of life for everyone. As a partner, we depend upon building lasting and ongoing relationships.
As circulation head for Bank Director, I pay attention to where our readers are, and echo Mr. Wilbur’s thoughts. These bankers are not the bad guys – typically their boards are comprised of leaders within the community – local realtors, doctors, businessmen. People vested in community growth.
Next time you think of your average banker, don’t think of Mr. Potter. Think George Bailey.