Signals Fintech

3 Banks Standing Firm on Community Support as Banking Crisis & Fintech Competition Grow

Smaller banks with a long history are evolving to face the challenge from the mushrooming Fintechs and the banking crisis. They are doing particularly great because of the strong community support they’ve nurtured for decades with their financial services, but that's not the only reason.

Learn who's supporting the U.S. financial system for Fintechs in particular and doing the best in these tumultuous times by banking on the community.

Why community banks anchor better amid the U.S. banking crisis

In her interview with Yahoo Finance, Senator Tina Smith pointed out that the reason that community banks have better chances to survive the turbulence in the banking environment than financial corporations is not only their modest size as compared to the Big Five and other heavyweights. Many also have a different and more cautious business model, which helps them circumvent the risks and challenges of the bigger players

Rooted in diversity, community banks hold a key role in supporting the U.S. banking system. While they get their share of worry and losses as the Fed is all in on protecting large banks, they are way more secure against a sudden SVB-like collapse. For instance, at Hyperion, monthly gains outnumber the expected $4 million, and personal loans go on as usual. However, business lending, especially for startups, has slowed down.

The names of the banks I listed below may not strike a familiar chord to many. And that’s even more reason to put them in the focus as they help clip our banking system together.

Leader Bank 

Founded in 2002, Leader Bank supports local communities of Massachusetts by leveraging a distinct banking approach. Serving segments from individuals to businesses and municipalities, the institution provides an impressive variety of client services and products, backing them with innovation to meet the needs of its clients.

Becoming a leader

At its inception, Leader Bank held $6.5 million in assets, with seven team members to steer the freshly-licensed entity. But these turned out to be its lucky seven: best-in-class staff has supported the bank’s rapid growth and client-oriented solutions over the last 20 years, allowing the bank to extend its outreach in commercial and retail areas. 

By now, the Bank has grown into one of Massachusetts's most successful financial institutions, with over $3 billion in assets and over 400 team members. Ever since its founding, the bank has been profitable each quarter. Leader Bank has also been building up upon its regulatory capital ratios persistently. By the end of 2022, Leader Bank’s capital ratios outran the numbers indicating significant capitalization as regulators see it.

High results and performance continues to underpin Leader Bank’s reputation as one of the state’s and country’s best community banks. For ten years in a row, this remarkable achievement got acknowledgment from Leader Bank once again received an A+ grade from Weiss Ratings and from Bauer Financial, Inc., which graded it A+ and five stars, respectively.

Approach

Leader Bank has fostered a cautious lending ethos, resulting in a diversified portfolio of excellent quality. One of the reasons the bank was able to achieve this was complete abstinence from risky or substandard lending practices in its lending approach.

As a responsible corporate entity, Leader Bank is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in the regions it serves. Leader Bank furthers its mission by collaborating with community partners in the Greater Boston region and other areas. By supporting charitable organizations and community groups and participating in local civic events, Leader Bank contributes to enriching the communities it operates in.

Community Banks

Industrial Bank

Industrial Bank is the largest U.S. African American and family-owned community bank with the longest history. Headquartered in the Washington metropolitan area, the bank is committed to providing beyond critical banking and financial services and boosting the development of the Washington community.

By introducing advanced software, the bank retained competitiveness in the now Fintech-saturated finance environment. Its app allows users to check balances, make check deposits, pay bills, and transfer between linked Industrial Bank accounts.

Long-haul growth tradition

Since 1934, Industrial Bank has developed into an FDIC member with over 140 employees and an asset base of over $550 million. While demonstrating first-class performance as a financial services company, Industrial Bank is also determined to enhance the local economy through public/private partnerships, banking education seminars, and sponsorships. 

But its history starts as early as 1913, when John Whitelaw Lewis, a laborer, and entrepreneur, established it as the first black-owned bank. After two years of inactivity following its closing in 1932, the bank reopened and has remained a family business ever since.

In 2022, US Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund awarded Industrial Bank $45m in tax credit allocation, trusting it with revitalization, new jobs creation, and supporting minority entrepreneurship through investment.

Approach

To Industrial Bank, customers are the most valuable assets. The more informed they are, the better value the bank can help them create for themselves and the bigger the benefit for the local and global economy. That’s why Industrial Bank invests a lot of effort and resources in financial education, spreading it from its website and banking education seminar venues to the D.C. correctional facilities. By battling financial illiteracy, the entity helps raise the quality of life in the locations where it operates.

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Amerant Bank

Amerant Bank is the largest community bank headquartered in Florida and the principal subsidiary of Amerant Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ: AMTB). The Bank provides individuals and businesses with deposit and credit products, as well as wealth management services through its investment and trust subsidiaries, Amerant Investments, Inc. and Amerant Trust, N.A.

Success story

For over 40 years, the bank has been crafting strong community relationships, tailoring its services to its customers'​ lives and specific needs. Now, headquartered in Coral Gables, Amerant operates 24 banking centers – 17 in South Florida, 7 in Houston, and one in Tampa focused specifically on commercial real estate lending, one of the bank’s critical areas of expertise. The institution also offers commercial and industrial clients, specialty finance, and treasury management services.

By building community trust, Amerant became the largest community bank in Florida, with over $9 billion in assets and excellent financial strength and stability acknowledged by BauerFinancial. Also, Amerant has received CRA’s “Outstanding and High rating” annually for twelve years straight. In 2022, Amerant won the title “Best Community Bank 2022” from New World Report.

Approach

Focused on empowering communities, Amerant has developed a robust Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) program, which it actively implements in its best-in-class services. The bank supports local projects both financially and in terms of expertise, participates in corporate giving, has developed special lending programs, and contributes to its network of organizations with shared missions, such as United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and others.

How Fintechs and community banks can collaborate for mutual benefit

By joining efforts, community banks and fintechs can better develop and solidify local financial services, increasing financial literacy and well-being both vertically and horizontally. Here are several areas for collaboration:
Lending. Loan origination can become much easier for the clients of community banks if the latter get access to fintechs’ expertise and technology.

Security & compliance. Some fintechs put in place their own safety and regulation solutions and measures instead of opting for Regtech solutions, which might be way next-gen for community banks to tap. 

Data analytics. To get better insights into their customer behavior and improve performance, community banks can use fintechs’ data analytics solutions.

Such partnerships can help fintechs zoom in locally to improve their customer experience and expand their client base, thus increasing their profitability. And what’s better than sticking together in times when the earth is shaking even under the feet of financial giants?

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Summing up

The global economic turmoil, particularly rampaging in the U.S., speeds up the development of strong financial ecosystems, calling for further diversification of partners. For fintechs, it’s time to draw on the experience and opportunities that collaboration and cooperation with smaller banks, like community-focused ones, can unlock.

New partnerships can lead to new solution ideas or highlight the need to enhance the existing software. If you value flexibility and speed of development that come from the constantly evolving expertise, contact our tech experts. During a quick complimentary call, you’ll see how we can help your company grow faster and reduce expenses through our smart software engineering approach.

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