The exterminators are at it again. Another “pundit” is spraying around the latest prediction on the demise of the community banking industry. This particular exterminator predicts the number of banks in the United States will drop from nearly 8,000 today to less than 2,500 in the next 10 years. Of course, the vast majority of those institutions would be community banks.
Now, some of you might be familiar with one of my nicknames for community banks. To the inexperienced ear, it might sound like an insult. But after decades in this industry, I am proud to call community banks the “cockroaches” of the financial services industry. This isn’t a slur, but a term of endearment.
No matter how hard the banking “experts,” consultants and those hired by special interests dedicated to the demise of community banking try, they will never be able to kill off the nation’s community banks. Community banking is synonymous with the American spirit of independence, self reliance and entrepreneurship. And no person or interest group will ever kill the American spirit. We’re survivors, and we’ll be serving our Main Street communities well after other financial sectors are exterminated.
To paraphrase my fellow Missourian Mark Twain, reports on the death of the community banking industry have—once again—been greatly exaggerated. Community banks will continue filling their crucial role in cities and towns across America, and ICBA won’t quit fighting on their behalf.