This is not just about Canton Co-operative Bank, though that is obviously the bank I know best. From my previous career as a bank examiner, I know that what I am about to say is true of many, many community banks throughout New England and nationwide.
Day-to-day money management is a huge part of people’s lives. It makes a big difference if you’re with a bank you like and trust. Ideally that will be a bank where they’ll get to know you as a person and, if you’re trustworthy, they will come to trust you too.
Because there actually are banks out there that have great relationships with their customers. Not fake “sell them stuff” relationships. Real relationships … where people who chose to go into banking as a career get to use their knowledge to actually help customers and make customers’ lives easier. That makes our day!
(The good community banks – the ones you want to be with – hate the hard-sell tactics of way too many of the medium-to-large banks. They embarrass our industry.)
A few days ago, a customer came into the Bank with a significant amount in H bonds. She wanted to cash them but she wasn’t sure how to go about that.
She had gone to the big national bank where she also had an account. They told her to “call the Treasury.” Yup – the U.S. Treasury. They didn’t give her a number or a department to try. They just said, “You need to call the Treasury on that.”
Before she set off on that wild goose chase, she decided to come in and ask us. We sat down with her, figured out exactly what she had and – while she was in the Bank – we called the Treasury to find out what her best next step was.
She was very grateful for the help; she thanked us most sincerely. Which was kind of her. “But that’s what we’re here for,” we told her. And that’s true.
A banker I know recently told me about a customer with substantial deposits who had a check from a 3rd party that he needed to cash right away. That bank had a 10-day hold on that particular kind of deposit. But because of the trust that had built up between the bank and this customer over several years, they made an exception and cashed the check for him.
That customer was also very grateful. But he should have given himself the credit for being with a bank that knew him and knew they could trust him. Developing that relationship before he needed it made all the different when he needed it.
Does that mean friendly, community banks make exceptions every time? Of course not! It’s our responsibility to be cautious with depositors’ money. But every bank – even the huge ones – can make exceptions sometimes. The difference is that some banks are more inclined to say no, while the kind of bank you want to be with is one that will look for ways to say yes.
If you hate your bank … if you have seen time and again that they would never lift a finger to help you … if you don’t know anyone there and the faces change so fast … you have a choice. Many choices in New England. Find a bank you like and trust where they have people you can talk to. A bank you’re delighted to be with.
Sure, it will take some effort to switch. But your new bank can help you with that too. And customers who make the switch usually say they wish they’d done it years before.
Nick Maffeo is the President & CEO of Canton Co-operative Bank in Canton. “Smart About Money” is a regular column he writes for the Canton Citizen. Have a financial question you’d like to ask? Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.