Robert Fisher: Who sits at your table?

Robert Fisher, Chairman ICBA
Photo by Heather Esposito

Working with a community bank is like being welcomed into the fold, and that’s why we choose our partners with care.

Fall is my favorite season for all that it delivers: college football, tailgating, barbecue, changing leaves and crisp air. But when I think about what makes this time of year special, it’s the sense of community it creates. Whether you meet up at a stadium parking lot or your dining room table, a sense of togetherness permeates the season.

I guess it’s no wonder that I’ve been drawn to community banking, where connectedness drives that all we do. We build communities through our ties to our customers, and we have a vested interest because they’re the ones we gather with. They’re our friends and family.

My Top Three

I know BBQ. I once waited three hours for brisket! Here are my favorites:

  1. Franklin Barbecue, Austin, Texas
  2. Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q, Oneonta, N.Y.
  3. Any BBQ dive with good friends

Working with a community bank is like being welcomed into the fold, and that’s why we choose our partners with care. We expect those with whom we work to abide by a relationship of trust and to put our success as a priority. We don’t just want vendors that see us as another ticket on their punch list; we want collaborators who understand our pain points and vow to tackle them with us.

Recently, my community bank has developed strong relationships with fintech companies from ICBA’s ThinkTECH Accelerator. Like community banks, they’re eager to support their clients’ needs and exceed expectations, so they, in turn, are flexible and ready to move quickly to support us.

For example, when the Paycheck Protection Program launched, we needed solutions yesterday to support loan applications and forgiveness tracking. ICBA held two tech sprints with The Venture Center that featured more than 20 fintech solutions. In the span of two webinars, I was able to identify a company to meet my bank’s needs and get up and running quickly.

Beyond the success of the rapid implementation, there was a sense of collaboration and working toward a common goal: to help our community in a time of need. The urgency around this program meant we had to rely on the fintech’s expertise. In turn, they needed to ensure that they kept the promises they made. It was about building trust, and they fulfilled that objective.

This story provides just one of many ways fintechs can support the digital demands of today’s landscape. So, as you read this month’s issue, I encourage you to consider potential fintech providers in support of your bank’s digital journey. Because, as the market continues to evolve, they may just be who you want gathered around your table.

Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!


Robert Fisher Chairman, ICBA
Robert Fisher is president, CEO and chairman of Tioga State Bank in Spencer, N.Y.
Connect with Robert @RobertMFisher