Field Notes: Joe Fazio

Joe Fazio, ICBA Community Banker of the Year 2017, is chairman and CEO of Commerce State Bank in West Bend, Wis.

Step back and think about the bank you represent. It provides jobs, supports the community, finances local businesses, helps people buy homes and gives people access to their money anywhere in the world at any time.

Doesn’t that just make you want to say, “I love this bank”? Sure it does. Then why don’t you say it to yourself and everyone you meet? Because as community bankers, we are humble servants to our clients, helping them get the things they want and need.

As bankers, we are humble servants to our clients, helping them get the things they want and need.

It’s time we become less humble. Why aren’t bankers more boastful? I think it’s because we do everything with such precision and make it seem so easy. We don’t see the tremendous value provided in every transaction processed. We see it as just doing our job.

Think about your client who travels 500 miles away from home on vacation to a place where no one knows them. Yet, they’re able to walk up to a machine and withdraw money from their account as though they are standing in your lobby. How great is that? No check writing, no identification and no waiting (if it takes more than 30 seconds, they will start saying nasty things to the machine).

Let’s take it a step further and say they went to Europe on vacation. Now we throw in currency translation! How about using that debit card at a restaurant? Same result: transaction approved, no waiting, no identification, no check writing and no cash involved. Credit card? Same result.

Don’t want to go to a machine for cash? No problem. Simply pay with your phone.

Banks are the leader in providing technology-based methods for clients to access their money quick and easy. Notice I say money, not cash. Let’s step back in time for a moment to prove my point.

Who created the checking account? Banks. People no longer needed to carry cash because they could write a check. Who made credit cards available? Banks. With them, you no longer needed a check. Same for debit cards. Who made electronic bill payment, internet banking and mobile banking happen? Banks. The list goes on, and it will be banks that add to it in the future and lead it.

Don’t apologize for a fee. Explain how great it is to have your money available all over the world at any time without prior notice. Who else would do that for you, while keeping your money secure and insured? Without a partner bank, fintech loses on that every time.

So, go ahead, say, “I love this bank,” and tell everyone you know that you love your community bank, too.


Joe Fazio, ICBA Community Banker of the Year 2017, is chairman and CEO of Commerce State Bank in West Bend, Wis.

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