03/26/2015: Community Banking is Consumer Protection
As the economy continues its gradual recovery from the harsh fallout of the Wall Street financial crisis, the country has turned its attention to consumer protection. Policymakers have established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and enacted a plethora of new financial regulations. Meanwhile, consumers in Syracuse and across the country have raised their awareness and concerns about the questionable financial practices of the largest banks and nonbank financial institutions and have made it clear they will not stand for it again.
Fortunately for consumers looking for a safe, secure and accountable source of financial services, the answer is right here in Syracuse. Community banks—the hometown financial institutions that have been serving America’s communities since our nation’s founding—operate a business model that is inherently supportive of consumers and local economies.
Local, community banking—the kind we provide at Seneca Savings—is built upon one-on-one relationships between community bankers and their customers. By banking with a community bank, consumers deposit their money in a local institution that reinvests its funding in the local economy. In turn, we community bankers know our customers firsthand and are personally accountable to them. As locally based financial providers serving the people we see at PTA meetings and Friday night football games, community bankers are obliged to be honest dealers—not only is it our culture, but our business depends on it.
In short, community banking is consumer protection. And as the community banking industry recognizes April as ICBA Community Banking Month, I encourage consumers to consider the benefits of banking locally. Community banks maintain a symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship with our customers. We take in local deposits and put them to productive use by lending that money back into the local economic ecosystem—to local small businesses, entrepreneurs, farmers and home buyers. That’s why community banks are so important to our communities. And it’s why community banks continue to advocate policies that distinguish these local institutions from the large and complex financial firms that have demonstrated significant risky practices to consumers.
With more than 6,000 community banks operating 52,000 locations in local communities throughout the United States, there is ample opportunity to explore the benefits of local banking. It’s easy to learn more—just stop by Seneca Savings or any other local community bank to discuss your financial situation and how community banking could be right for you. If you’re not sure where to start, go to www.banklocally.org and punch in your address to find a community bank near you.
Hometown community banking has helped build this country and its many, diverse communities. Remember, community banks are only successful if their customers and communities are too. With a direct incentive to do right by their customers, community banks are a critical source of financial stability for individual consumers, local businesses and the economy as a whole. To take advantage of this safe, secure and stable source of financial services—and to contribute to a more vibrant and sustainable economy in your community—I encourage consumers in Syracuse and nationwide to see for themselves the benefits of community banks, the original consumer protectors.