From The Top


Embracing Technology

By John H. Buhrmaster, Chairman of ICBA

As a community banker and the father of three children—two teenagers and one young adult—I feel like technology has become a way of life. When I’m at the bank, I’m using technology to my advantage to run our business successfully and efficiently while providing our customers with the convenience that technology allows. When I come home, I see smartphones, tablets and every technical device under the sun. It amazes me how much technology young adults “need.”

Of course, I shouldn’t talk. I’m one of those folks contributing to the growing pile of technological gadgets in our home.

But that shouldn’t be something that any of us in the Buhrmaster family should feel bad about, and it’s not something that you as a community banker should feel bad about either. It’s a tangible example that shows you are embracing technology, and that shows that you are taking a step in the right direction for the well-being of your community bank and customers.

This positive attitude toward accepting and embracing technology has been embedded in our culture at 1st National Bank of Scotia since I can remember. In fact, I credit my grandfather with being our bank’s pioneer when it comes to technology. Back in 1962, he contracted with General Electric to generate statement savings accounts on computers. Everyone else was doing passbooks at that time. Here we were, a community bank in upstate New York, on the cutting edge of next-generation banking practices. But we didn’t stop moving, every new technological advance was a stepping stone for us and our customers.

Back in 1995, we continued that tradition with being the first bank in the state to do document imaging for all our loan files. Not only is it great to say that, but more importantly it’s great from a practical perspective. If I need to look up a customer document from nearly 20 years ago, I can easily access it. I don’t need to dust off files, and risk a sneezing attack, to find it. It’s also easier for customers because it takes us less time to find what they need, which in turn saves them time and strengthens our overall customer relationship.

While it seems like technology is constantly changing, and that’s the reality, it’s looking back at the progress that our bank has made and citing these examples that helps me realize why being a community bank technology pioneer is so important. It demonstrates so clearly how technology, when accepted and embraced, can add to your community bank’s efficiency and customer service, all of which helps the bottom line.

We at 1st National Bank of Scotia will continue to utilize technology to our advantage now and in the years to come. I encourage all of my fellow community bank brethren to do the same. After all, our newest generation of customers—millennials and beyond—will expect it from us, and it will be our job to step up to the challenge and serve them with the technology they’ve come to expect.

John H. Buhrmaster is president of 1st National Bank of Scotia, in Scotia, N.Y.