Anyone who has a dog has felt compelled at times to issues the admonishment, “Bad Dog!” for aberrant canine behavior. I can’t help but think of Gary Larson cartoon’s when dogs go bad, and find myself laughing. However, not all dogs are prone to bad behavior, nor are all banks, especially community banks, and that is not a laughing matter. The March 8, 2013 Bank Investment Daily speaks to this issue:
“Bankers are familiar with business continuity planning and
fallout when an industry is damaged and some still hear “banker”
used negatively. The banking industry has suffered for numerous
reasons, but in particular because of the actions of a few large
players. Community banks in general, are regarded to be of a
different caliber than large banks when blame is spread around
for the financial mess of the last few years, but “banking” in
general has nonetheless lost some luster.”
Steve Brown is the CEO of Walnut Creek’s Pacific Coast Banker’s Bank, www.pcbb.com, and the author of the Bank Investment Daily. Steve has a great read on the pulse of banking in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, but I think Steve is being a bit diplomatic here in saying that banking has lost some luster. Writing in an Advertising Age from October 24, 2012, Rupal Parkekh refers to a study funded by Adobe and performed by the research firm of Edelman Berland, in which bankers had a 32% value rating. If there is some consolation, politicians can boast an amazing 18% value rating; thought it would be a negative number! The wording flaw in the study, and in most articles about “banking”, is the lumping of all banks into the single word; “banks”. Steve Brown rightfully points out that the banking industry has taken reputational hits as a result of …”a few large players.” While it would be tempting and appropriate to excoriate these miscreants, paraphrasing acerbic philosopher and baseball coach Dick Wall, “... as easy as hitting a cow in the rump with a banjo”, the reality is these “Too big to fail” and “Too big to jail” banks deserve most, if not all the blame.
Fremont Bank, www.fremontbank.com, in Fremont, Mechanics Bank, www.mechanicsbank.com, in Richmond, Summit State Bank in Sonoma, www.summitstatebank.com, and First National Bank of Northern California, www.fnbnorcal.com, all community banks, did nothing, let me reiterate, nothing, to bring our economy to its’ knees through greed, avarice and outright malfeasance. Going out on a very safe limb, it is easy to say, without a scientific survey, that these banks have an approval rating among their customers of somewhere in the 95% range. No bank in the Bay Area is perfect, we all drop the ball sometimes, but these well established community banks and other Bay Area community banks don’t take their customers for granted or participate in risky behavior with their customer's money. If a mistake is made or a problem arises with a customer, the issue is addressed quickly and thoroughly. Like the Avis adage, “we try harder”, community banks in the Bay Area have to, to keep their loyal customers loyal.
So, when it comes to criticizing “banks” for bad behavior, a more accurate reprimand is “Bad big bank, bad big bank, bad big bank!” At least you’ll be calling out the right scoundrel!