One of my favorite books about leadership was written by Raymond Davis, the former President and CEO of Umpqua Bank Holdings Corporation and South Umpqua Bank. In 2007, Davis authored Leading for Growth: How Umpqua Bank Got Cool and Created a Culture of Greatness. He later spoke with PACB members at the 2017 convention in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
In Leading for Growth, Davis writes that change is omnipresent. It’s the ability of leaders to adapt, empower their people, and lead change, that are critical factors affecting their ability to succeed and grow.
Adaptability and resilience were critical factors enabling bank leaders to navigate and thrive during last year’s challenging times. Despite social distancing restrictions that seemed to run counter to community bank culture and bank leaders forced to lock their lobbies or manage teams of employees working from home, community banks still found ways to deliver personalized service and set themselves apart from megabanks and other financial institutions.
Discussing the overwhelming response by community banks to support America’s small businesses through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, FDIC Chairwoman Jelena McWilliams acknowledged that community banks demonstrated through their efforts “what cannot be replicated by an online presence alone or larger banks.”
McWilliams observed that community banks were the nation’s “economic first responders,” working quickly to minimize the impact of economic shutdowns. She was not alone in her view. A recent study by Foresight revealed that since the start of the pandemic, one-in-four large-bank customers were in the market for a new financial institution. Of those, 22-percent were very- or extremely likely to switch.
The January re-start of the federal Paycheck Protection Program appeared to be much smoother than last March. A combination of clearer, more complete rules and a determined legion of community bankers looked to be the difference. Through January 17, the U.S. Small Business Administration reported that it had approved approximately 60,000 PPP loan applications submitted by nearly 3,000 lenders, for over $5 billion.
The new year is brimming with opportunities and a few challenges for community bankers. This month’s edition of Hometown Banker Magazine focuses on the theme of resilience. Many of the authors featured herein discuss strategies, tools, and best practices to help you sharpen your focus, hone your leadership skills, and help you recharge and prepare your team for the year ahead.
PACB continues to deliver an array of free resources to help banks navigate the pandemic, hosting regular CEO peer exchanges, maintaining a library of federal and state resources, and developing content and managing a variety of tools to help bankers address COVID-19 in their workplace and retail space.
PACB recently held a conversation about vaccination planning with officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Bank employees and other financial services industry workers are eligible for the vaccine in phase 1c with other essential workers. Bank employees who are eligible based on age or other risk criteria may apply for vaccination in earlier phases. The description of the eligibility in phases 1a, 1b, 1c, and 2, are listed on the department’s website, health.pa.gov.
Community banks picked up in 2021 right where they left off in 2020, serving their customers, keeping their employees safe, and helping their communities remain strong as pandemic restrictions continued. We thank you for your commitment to your community. We look forward to working with you in the year ahead.