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Special Insights from Community Banking’s Leading Voices
While communities across the U.S. were affected by the economic downturn, community banks continued to play an integral role in serving their communities and businesses. During the Great Recession, big box banks stopped lending and cut assistance within communities, leaving many businesses exposed. Community bankers intervened by generating innovative solutions, helping reassure their struggling communities that they were not helpless.
Tony Perry, President and CEO of Park State Bank and Trust in Woodland Park, Co., was one who strategically recognized the leadership support community banks could provide in helping their communities navigate the crisis. “We were hearing real concerns from small business owners on Main Street. One day after lunch I was approached by several business owners in town, telling me they didn’t know if they were going to be around another year.” Perry knew that capital was scarce and cash flow was under pressure. As part of a small community of just over 7,000 people, he knew it was important to find a way to sustain business in town, so he proposed the idea for a community revitalization program.
Park State Bank and Trust brought the community together for the ‘Main Street Makeover’ by offering below market loan terms to business owners if they would agree to use the proceeds to make improvements to the facades of their businesses. The goal was to spruce up the downtown area, while giving the business owners a positive focus in the midst of turmoil. The loans were a minimal investment compared to the results. Within a week, Perry had a commitment from 20 business owners on Main Street. A reveal of the building improvements from the ‘Main Street Makeover’ was scheduled to coordinate with a baseball tournament of over 1,000 little leaguers and their families coming into the town. The event encouraged those from the surrounding areas to visit Woodland Park, gathering the entire community together in celebration. The locals certainly embraced the idea that “together we can survive this crisis, but we must find ways to collaborate and leverage scarce resources,” Perry recalled. “As the community bank, we knew that our long-term health tied into the health of our small businesses and families. While weathering losses to the bank’s bottom line, we recognized the key to our longevity in the community, was to continue investing in our customers.”
The leadership that Perry and Park State Bank and Trust provided encouraged struggling business owners on Main Street and assisted them in keeping their doors open. The majority are still in business and serving the Woodland Park community today.
IBT: A True Partner
Perry went on to explain the importance of a banks’ partnership with their core provider, “It was evident that Mark Dittman and the IBT team understood our overall vision, reinforcing our decision to make the change. We bought into the i2Suite, and it began a true partnership with them. Now nine years later, we’re satisfied that our initial assessment was right on.” In fact, because of their ongoing confidence in IBT and their progressive future, Park State Bank and Trust has since extended their agreement and is in the process of incorporating the complete i2Suite into the entirety of their banking operations.
In an equally challenging time for fintech companies, Dittman recalls meeting with Perry and listening to the struggles his community was facing at the time, “IBT understood we could only succeed if community banks survived. We knew during the Great Recession, big box vendors continued to increase revenues on the backs of the community banks. IBT took an opposing position and did not increase our processing fees, and instead lowered them where we could. We supported our partners by giving them the resources they needed to persevere through a difficult time, and will continue to do everything we can to give something back.” IBT delivers a core product that is distinguished by its collaborative efficiency. They define partnership through agile flexibility, supporting the unique, individual needs of each community bank.
In a revolutionary time for the banking industry, core providers should aim to build partnerships and empower community banks to make profitable decisions. By providing them with the vital resources they need, the banks will be able to compete in a continually evolving market. “IBT offers a variety of products and vendor options, soliciting a competitive market by allowing community banks to choose the solutions that best fit their business needs. We know by doing this they will have the opportunity to accomplish their goals financially and strategically, ultimately supporting their communities,” said Dittman. As banks and innovative fintech companies establish more strategic partnerships than ever before, their reliance on core partners to provide cutting-edge technology is becoming paramount.
The opportunity for community banks to secure partnerships with innovative fintech companies continues to be challenging as legacy providers relentlessly monopolize access to their data and refuse to integrate with the banks’ desired partners. By doing so, they lose the ability to provide beneficial and convenient products to their customers. It is time for community banks to stop being exploited by big box vendors, detached from what is best for them and their customers, and put them at the forefront of the conversation. When community banks can collaborate with agile and reliable fintech providers, like IBT, the resulting partnerships disrupt the status quo and allow for the transformation of our industry.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As a banking community, we must move toward systems that enable us to make the right decisions for our businesses and our customers. We must move away from the restraints legacy fintech companies impose, and move toward innovation that allows us to determine the positioning of our data and place it with solutions that are meaningful.
Your core fintech provider should be agile, able to assist you by allowing you access to your data, supporting your preferred integrations, and overall strengthening your customer relationships.
If you are thinking of changing your core provider or are interested in discovering how the i2Suite can benefit your community bank, visit ibtapps.com and receive a free webinar or connect with the IBT Director of Sales, Steve Thomas at SThomas@ibtapps.com.