For the second time in a few months, “bankers” in London have gone off the reservation and have taken inappropriate, unethical and probably illegal positions in hedging and trading activities. There is an obvious lack of ethics, self-restraint and controls around these activities, which really makes you wonder if there isn’t something in the water across the pond. All kidding aside, these activities are giving the thousands of community bankers – including the 217 employed here at First County Bank – a bad reputation.
I recently hosted a meeting for all our Bank Officers and spoke to our staff on this very subject stressing that we need to work hard every day to maintain and improve our image in our communities in spite of and because of the current turmoil at the Big Banks. You don’t see us on trading floors or on Wall Street but you do see my colleagues teaching financial education in schools and non-profits and taking leadership roles in local community agencies. In addition, our own foundation has continuously demonstrated our direct financial commitment to local non-profits since its inception more than a decade ago.
My message to staff was pretty clear. We’re not the bankers you read about in the press but we have to keep on point to improve our own image and do it the old-fashioned way:
- Speak clearly
- Treat customers fairly
- Maintain open communication with regulators
- Tell our own story
- Do things right the first time
We know there is lot of financial stress in our market these days and we want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. I’d like nothing better than to deepen the credentials we already have in our market. I’d also like nothing better than to see each one of my colleagues at a Rotary meeting or volunteering at a non-profit.
Let’s all get caught doing something good.
So when someone asks me what I do, I don’t tell them I’m a banker, I say I’m a Community Banker. There’s a meaningful difference.