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What is Community Banking Anyway?

June 23, 2018

We can all certainly give a definition for what community is. It’s the people around you with similar interests, goals, or motivations. Our family, our friends, and our Zumba instructor can all be considered community.

When we think about our Bank, though, how far can the word “community” carry over? Certainly the person that signs you up for a savings account is technically in your broader community – they probably live close by, they might know your family, shop at the same stores you do – but community banking is certainly more than a matter of proximity, right?

Analysts commonly use the bank’s size to designate it a community bank. One such definition from the Federal Reserve stated that for research purposes, banks with total assets under $10 Billion can be considered community banks. This is fine for research purposes, but on a customer level this doesn’t hold much meaning. Nobody chooses a bank for their home loan based on the assets the bank currently held.

So what is a community bank? And why do people choose a community bank over the Big Banks? Well here at Bank of the Sierra, our definition is very much informed by our definition of community. We began as a bank for the people of Porterville: a community institution that would pay back into the community. We define community as the people who share common interests, whatever those may be. A group of individuals who help and support each other. Help is an important word.

What, then, of your bank? Does it share the same values, goals and motivations as you?

One of the very first tag lines Bank of the Sierra employed, back in 1980, was this: “The bank that works for our town,” which can sound basic and obvious when glossed over, but actually, the phrase does well to define community banking. We don’t have vested interests in international markets that take our minds—and assets—away from the community we’re in. The impetus for founding Bank of the Sierra was to allow local farmers and merchants the opportunity to work with a bank that invested in their community. It was a willingness to help. As we’ve grown, we are just as willing to help the variety of communities we’re in today.

Whether it’s offering loans that are tailored to the needs of the local farmers and small businesses in the towns and cities we serve, or supporting local non-profit initiatives through our Sierra Grant Program, or simply offering straight-forward banking products that keep everybody’s lives simple, we deliver personal service that gives just the right amount of attention to our customers.

Does an individual branch of one of the big banks offer some or all of this? Maybe. But have they been regularly supporting your community for almost 40 years? It’s the commitment to helping that makes the difference, and in this area, Bank of the Sierra is happy to be different.

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