The classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” depicts a simpler time and place a small town where everyone knows one another and relies on each other. At the center of that world is the community bank, the Bailey Building and Loan, and its battle against the large bank controlled by the heartless Henry F. Potter. It may seem that the Potters of the world have taken over the financial sphere for good, but small institutions like the Bailey Building and Loan still thrive, and can continue to offer the kind of small town service many customers desire.
When citizens of Bedford Falls walk into the Bailey Building and Loan, they’re not unlikely to be served by George Bailey himself. Your local community bank can offer a similar level of service, with officers available to customers on site, rather than hidden in a corporate office in another city. Finance professionals can sit down with customers, discuss their questions, and give personalized advice suited to individuals’ financial needs. Larger institutions like Potter’s don’t know you or your family and can’t take your personal circumstances into consideration when seeking investment solutions.
Knowing Your Lender
This personalized service may be even more important when it comes to large loans like a home mortgage. When a corporate financial institution owns your mortgage, you may never meet the people you’re sending those hefty payments to month after month. Moreover, it’s likely that your mortgage is sold to another institution one or more times during the life of the loan. With a community bank, however, your loan will be managed in your hometown, where you can speak to an actual person whenever you need. A smaller lender is also more likely to offer flexible loan options and to take your personal history into account rather than just plugging your information into a formula to determine your options.
Keeping Your Money Close to Home
Just as buying your groceries from a local farmer’s market helps strengthen your area’s economy, depositing your savings close to home puts your money to work in your neighborhood. Large institutions may hold accounts in one area and make loans in another, but a community bank can circulate money within your city or town, strengthening the area as a whole.
Remember the famous bank-run scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life”? People worried about their savings demanded to close their accounts and get their money in hand immediately, but George explains, “The money’s not here. Your money’s in Joe’s house… and in the Kennedy house, and Mrs. Macklin’s house, and a hundred others.” Bank runs are thankfully a relic of the past, but local lenders like the Bailey Building and Loan still circulate funds within a small geographic area. Keeping your money with an institution that lends to businesses and individuals in the same neighborhood supports the local economy in a way that the big guys never could, helping the community grow and thrive.
It may not be as big or flashy as Potter’s gold-plated institution, but a community bank may provide the assistance and financial services you value most-those that will stay in your neighborhood and grow your local economy while growing your personal savings.