A bank is much more than a building where you deposit your money and manage your bank accounts. It’s also a place where you can build important relationships as you earn an income and build toward financial goals such as buying a home, investing, and saving for retirement.
Although the basic features and services are more or less the same at every bank, there’s a big difference between the service and experience you enjoy at a community bank versus a national banking institution. If you’ve never been a customer at a local community bank, you might not realize what this type of bank has to offer in terms of its customer perks, its community presence, and its emphasis on building and maintaining strong relationships—all of which give you a better banking experience and better support and resources as you work toward financial goals.
Read on for a quick breakdown of the differences between national and community banks as well as some useful questions to help you understand where your priorities lie.
Do you want a bank with a) a national network, or b) a community presence?
Large national and corporate banks maintain a presence across vast regions extending far beyond your community. Because the leaders of these banks aren't local, they aren’t as invested in your individual or community-wide success—instead, they’re focused on making sure their retail locations in your area are turning a profit and generating value for the larger institution.
Community banks aren’t just smaller versions of these larger institutions. They’re locally owned and operated small businesses with a vested interest in serving your community and helping it succeed.
Do you want your bank to a) pay bonuses to executives and shareholders, or b) re-invest its earnings in the community?
When you invest your money in a bank that’s close to home, your money is ultimately increasing support for your local area instead of being siphoned off to the benefit of corporate executives and shareholders with no stake in your community’s well-being.
Because community banks are located and managed in your local community, they have a vested interest in serving that community and helping it succeed. Many community banks 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 offers financial and volunteer support for a number of local events and initiatives, including the FSCB Junior Savers program, local blood donation drives, and family-friendly events throughout the calendar year.
When you call customer service, do you want to speak with a) a representative halfway across the country, or b) someone who lives in your community?
Customer service is an important part of your banking experience. Whether you’re asking questions about recent transactions posted to your account, looking for information about specific financial products, or seeking assistance with any other customer service request, a local customer service representative is well positioned to be able to quickly help you with your request.
A community bank’s customer service line may also spare you the hassle of the long waits on hold that a national customer service hotline may entail.
Which matters more: a) having your value determined by your bank account balance and credit score, or b) your reputation and personal relationship with your bank?
At a large bank, your identity is the numbers attached to your account: your account balances, income, existing debt, and credit score. This can sometimes make it difficult to qualify for the credit you need to achieve personal or business-related goals.
Community banks, in contrast, value the relationships they build with customers. This can help customers seeking credit or other financial services by having their reputation and customer history weighed more heavily in certain approval decisions.
Many community banks even develop products and services specific to the needs they have identified among their customers. 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 offering a range of perks, including travel benefits, social gatherings, educational seminars, and ID theft protection.
Which one is right for you?
If you’ve picked option “B” for most or all of the questions above, a community bank might be the best fit for your banking needs and preferences. To discover more benefits of choosing a community bank, download our free guide Why You Should Switch to a Community Bank today.