I realize now why I like community banks. I liked them when I covered them as part of two previous jobs, and I like them now that they represent a large portion of our readership here.
Having a bank teller who knows my name doesn't matter so much to me, but now I see a much deeper connection: We're in the same spot, professionally. That struck me as I read Michael White's article on the ill-founded reasons why so many community banks shun investment programs. He outlines a number of arguments that banks use to justify their misguided decisions. But in a nutshell, those banks are at a crossroads and many are taking the wrong turn. As an industry, they are sticking to their knitting, White says. And while that knittinggathering deposits and making loansworked for years, it's not enough today. To stay competitive now, they also need the stable revenues that wealth management can provide.
By way of comparison, journalism also stuck to its knittingtalking to sources and writing stories today for tomorrow's audiencefor too long. Most of the media have recognized their own new day at this point. But it took too long for many and has resulted in even some of the biggest names in our industry struggling with new business models.
Our cover story, which is somewhat related, is on the culture gap that underlies bank brokerage. For banks that decide to offer wealth management, it's traditionally been a tough addition to meld into their existing business. But that too is beginning to change. Associate Editor Margarida Correia reports that the culture gap is shrinking, but it still hasn't closed. Read how some in the industry are facing this challenge in a new day of lower interest rates.
I just hope that the smaller banks at the crossroads, as well as those that already offer investments, realize where they are and take the right path. Trust me, when a new day is dawning, you don't want to sleep till noon because new business models can be tough even for the early birds.
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