Financial crisis yields opportunity for local banks

March 23, 2009
Bank news has been dominated by bailout stories for months. Perhaps that's why small, local banks are making inroads against their competition.

This month, the Washington, D.C.-based Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade group that represents more than 5,000 locally owned and operated banks, released a report titled, "The Impact of the Financial Crisis on U.S. Community Banks: New Opportunities in Difficult Times." Its findings were based on a survey of 743 community banks.

It found that just over half, 55 percent, had seen an increase in deposits as a result of new customer acquisition. Only 17 percent had lost customers. The survey also found that 40 percent of community banks have increased their loan origination volume over the last year, while only 11 percent believe the financial crisis has significantly curtailed their ability to lend.

"While the financial crisis has affected banks of all sizes and in all regions, community banks continue to lend and are typically faring much better than the larger banks because they didn't participate in the high-risk activities that led to problems we are now experiencing," said ICBA CEO Camden Fine.
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