Finding the right bank for you is not easy. You want a bank that can meet all of your financial needs but is also personable and accommodating. Big banks offer the convenience of multiple branch locations, but they lack the familiarity and customer care that community banks pride themselves on.
Today, there are more than 50,000 community banks spread across the country. More and more customers are turning to community banks for the individualized service that only they can provide.
If you’re considering a community bank as your primary financial institution but want to learn how community banks differ from national banks, we’ve broken down the basics for you to compare.
Small Business Focus
Starting a small business of your own is an exciting venture, but it is often also stressful. The last thing a small business owner needs is complicated financial services that makes accounting feel like a chore.
Community banks appreciate the role that small businesses play in the local economy, which is why they’re particularly amenable to providing small businesses loans and other financial services. Community banks tend to charge lower fees than national banks, although these fees can vary. Though branch locations are concentrated in specific geographic areas, they offer the added benefit of servicing many rural communities. FSCB, for example, has 60 locations across Missouri and provides banking services to rural towns throughout the state.
If you’re looking for personalized financial advice, you’re likely to find it at your community bank. Community banks are invested in your success, so services such as local loans and investments, including home loans, are no-brainers. At First Community State Bank, the Horizons Club checking program targets customers ages 50 and over to provide a robust checking account that includes travel benefits, local events, and fraud protection with IDProtect.
Large banks offer a less personalized approach. They’ll treat you like a customer, rather than a neighbor or community partner.
Flexible Loan Agreements
Whether you’re finally turning those small business dreams of yours into a reality or purchasing your first starter home, you’ll probably need a loan. Understanding the ins and outs of the loan application process can feel overwhelming. Community banks take a familiar approach to lending practices and consider such factors as character, family history, and individual circumstances. Families of low and moderate income levels are welcome to apply, and all customers enjoy a quick application process.
National banks, in contrast, have strict loan policies and criteria that can disqualify many candidates. Most of their business focuses on corporate lending, which takes time away from small business loan applications. National banks also tend to take more time processing loan applications.
Sense of Community
Community banks are more than the sum of their financial services and products. They have a vested interest in serving their local communities. Local branches take on community service projects and participate in giveback programs to show their support. Every year, FSCB supports service initiatives as part of its Impact Month. In the past, this had included a donation of $1,500 to Washington and Pacific school districts where each FSCB branch is located. FSCB has also supported food pantries and Head Start programs as part of Impact Month.
Big banks tend not to be as involved in the community. Though they likely donate to reputable causes, their charity efforts are not necessarily focused on individual branches’ local areas.
Community banks also serve their communities by offering personal financial education. FSCB has a financial resource library, so all customers can feel empowered through financial literacy.