Preston Kennedy: ‘Tis the season of giving

“’Tis the season of giving, and no institution exemplifies that holiday spirit more than a community bank.”

’Tis the season of giving, and no institution exemplifies that holiday spirit more than a community bank.

For example, for more than a decade, my bank has hosted a Veterans Day flag-raising ceremony. We started it to draw attention to this important holiday and to honor those who have served. This year’s event boasted a war veteran who gave a touching speech on his experiences; the high school band and chorus, who played patriotic songs, including taps (not a dry eye to be had); and remarks by other local dignitaries, as well as the Pledge of Allegiance and the raising of the flag. Our bank is known for this event and its ability to draw the community together.

But my story offers a solitary example of what I know to be true of community banks across the U.S. Every banker reading this could come up with their own community success story—an event, festival or other activity that they lead, and the community is better for it. It’s just in our nature to give back to our neighbors and friends.

And that’s precisely why we need to tell our stories. We are the backbone of connectedness in our communities, and people respond to that sense of purpose. They want to know that they are part of something bigger, that they work with institutions that care. In sharing our community leadership, we fulfill that need without even trying.

My Top Three

Dear Santa,
We have been very good this year—and every year. We are the good guys of the financial services industry!

Please bring us:

  1. More de novo community banks
  2. Record attendance at ICBA LIVE 2020
  3. A new playing field (must be level)

In addition, our stories can emphasize that we offer traditional and technology-forward banking solutions. Those products, coupled with our strong customer relationships, enhance the quality of life for everyone in our reach.

It’s also what attracts people to work for us. New staff are drawn to our banks for what we offer our local environment. Study after study show how younger generations are driven to make the world a better place, and they come to us because they see the role we play in supporting that vision.

So, as you read through this month’s Best Community Banks to Work For profiles, I hope you’ll take the time to contemplate how to tell your story. ICBA offers resources to help, including our Be Heard grassroots action center to help with speaking with legislators and our marketing toolkit to help with reaching out to current and potential customers. Both provide seamless solutions to share more about the good work we’re doing.

With the holiday season looming large, let’s take this opportunity to reflect on our stories and what more we can do. Because as community bankers, our season of giving back is year-round.


Preston Kennedy, Chairman, ICBA
Preston Kennedy is president and CEO of Zachary Bancshares Inc. in Zachary, La.
Connect with Pres @BankPres

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