Think all banks are more or less the same? Think again. Though every bank offers basic financial services such as opening checking accounts and cashing checks, there’s a big difference between major national banking institutions and your community bank just up the street.
If you’ve never held an account with a community bank before, it’s worth learning about the key ways this type of bank differs from more recognizable, brand-name banks. As their name implies, community banks prioritize helping you, your neighbors, and your entire community reach your financial goals—and the services they offer are designed to support these efforts.
Because of their local focus, these smaller banks also tend to provide more personalized service to their customers. Read on to learn more about the benefits of using a community bank.
What Is a Community Bank, Anyway?
Community banks aren’t just small financial institutions placed in your town or community. They’re also locally owned and operated, so you won’t find a giant corporate structure masquerading behind an unassuming local name.
Community banks can vary in terms of the number of retail locations they maintain as well as the size of the regions they serve, but they are distinct from national banks, large corporate banks, and commercial banks serving big businesses (although they do offer commercial lending and banking for local businesses).
Because these banks are located and managed in your local community, they have a vested interest in serving that community and helping it succeed. When you invest your money in a bank that’s close to home, your money is helping support that community instead of being siphoned off to benefit corporate executives on the other side of the country. Over time, this delivers clear benefits for you and everyone around you.
Why Use a Community Bank?
Customers choose community banks over national banks for many different reasons. First and foremost is the focus on customers: Because a community bank’s success is dependent on the success of its customers, you’re more likely to receive better customer service and banking products that directly serve your needs.
Instead of appeasing shareholders or giving top priority to commercial clients with massive accounts managed by the bank, community banks prioritize families, farmers, and local businesses when choosing which banking services to offer. They channel money back into the community in the form of local loans and investments, including home loans. Community banks will even develop products and services specific to needs they identify in their local area. At First State Community Bank, for example, we now offer a Horizons Club checking program that serves customers ages 50 and older with a checking account that comes with a range of perks, including travel benefits, social gatherings, educational seminars, and ID theft protection.
In most cases, community banks also return a share of their profits and resources to the community in the form of community service, educational support, and assistance to charitable and nonprofit organizations. First State Community Bank supports a number of local events and initiatives, including the Junior Savers program, local blood donation drives, and a number of family-friendly events throughout the calendar year.
Ultimately, a bank is only as good as its ability to understand the needs of its customers. Community banks are better positioned to understand these local needs, as well as local economic conditions and the types of banking support needed to help each community thrive.
When it comes to doing business, it’s always better to know the people you’re doing business with. At a community bank, customers know they’re working with neighbors and fellow community members, all of whom want the best for their patrons and their region.
This familiarity allows banks to develop a better understanding of your personal needs, providing personalized service that will benefit you and your community for generations to come. By keeping your money in your community, you’re investing in the future and building a banking partnership in which everyone is working in the best interests of others. When it comes to your financial future, that’s no small thing.