The foundation of a good community is often its schools and local governments, businesses, and non-profits. Their influence trickles into the daily lives of every resident so they can live out their best possible lives. From infrastructure to education, to safety and emergency services, local organizations ensure the community’s future success.
One component of being good stewards for residents is that every few years, local schools, governments, and public service organizations analyze their banking relationships and request local banks to complete an RFP (Request for Proposal) for banking solutions and pricing. Likewise, non-profits and businesses analyze their efficiency and banking relationships on an ongoing basis. It’s good, smart business for them to make sure they partner with the right bank for their community or business. Needs and products can change over time or as quick as a minute, so it’s vital to reanalyze entire financial relationships regularly.
Typical relationship RFPs often include pricing and options regarding: multiple deposit accounts, account analysis, investment and savings accounts, commercial and real estate loans, treasury management services, customizable online and mobile business banking abilities, tax anticipation notes (TAN), payroll services, collateral agreements, equipment leases, wire capabilities, credit cards (this could be company credit cards/purchasing cards and merchant services) and more. That’s a ton of factors to consider when it comes to structuring your schools’, towns’, or business’ money. The length and detail of the RFP process reflect that complexity.
The complex nature of this process can be daunting for any leadership body—especially when several opinions are involved and all the information is made public. To make it more difficult, small to large banks offer near identical banking products and services for local governments and schools, so what are other factors boards or leadership should analyze to help make the right financial decisions?
Below, we came up with 10 factors that impact local organizations of all shapes and sizes when choosing where to build a financial relationship—and community banks are often the ones who have the flexibility and dedication to make the best partner.
A community bank is a bank that derives funds from and lends funds to the communities in which it operates–ultimately helping to grow the local economy. By banking locally, consumers make a hometown investment they can be proud of as money deposited with a community bank will be reinvested in ways that drive their local economy, such as: loans to local residents, businesses, and non-profits. In fact, community banks improve America’s communities by providing access to funding for nearly 60% of ALL businesses under $1 million and for 80% of all agricultural loans (www.icba.org).
Community banks, such as Standard Bank, offer comparable amenities to the big banks, but often provide superior training and product flexibility. Municipalities, for example, often require multiple signatures or approvals for most transactions. Now that payment types have transitioned from paper checks to electronic payment systems (i.e. bill pay, wire or ACH origination), there are new and better security options for these type of approvals. A community bank is usually better equipped to handle unique and flexible requests such as these, while keeping transactions and money movement secure.
Whether it’s your business’ local emergency or a global pandemic, community banks are quicker to adapt to customers in their time of need. Proven through the latest COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (see full article), Standard Bank was able to quickly and efficiently manage our customers’ needs, provide valuable education, and worked 24/7 to process millions of dollars for the Paycheck Protection Program through the SBA. When worst comes to worst, how long do you have to wait for the answers that impact your business? Is your bank on your side when you need them?
Although local community banks offer the same array of services as bigger banks, they have more price flexibility, which translates into lower fees for customers and a lower overall cost of doing business. Standard Bank takes a relationship approach to our public entity clients, and having an overall evaluation of the entire lending and deposit relationship allows us to offer the best possible interest rates at the lowest cost. We offer checking accounts that are Act 72 compliant with a competitive Earnings Credit Rates (ECR), enabling you to maximize earning potential. Best of all, each of our services is designed for the best possible use of taxpayer dollars. Whether you are a small municipality or a large school district, we can offer the robust financial services you need to serve your constituents.
Transactions are easier at local community banks. With an office likely located at the center of your town, time wasted traveling to the bank is minimized. Or, it can be entirely eliminated with remote or mobile solutions. Schools, local municipalities or boroughs, and non-profits usually run on a tight, multi-trained staff. Their time is extremely valuable, which is why it’s important that they have access to affordable and efficient treasury management services. Standard Bank will improve your efficiency, security, and bottom line.
Guidance, knowledge, and support—that’s what Standard Bank delivers to every public entity we serve. Community banks generally offer better one-on-one customer service and banking experience for customers. Bank associates get to know their individual customers and their needs to better serve them; in fact, it’s part of Standard Bank’s mission and lived out through our vision. Plus, if your entire office staff needs trained on a specific function or service, we can offer a dedicated team member to help train your staff (in person). If you haven’t worked with a community bank in the past, spend a few minutes in one of our offices, and you’ll quickly experience the difference (or see our video highlighting our customer service!).
When it comes to a public entity’s money, security is a top priority. Community banks can provide similar fraud detection services as larger banks. Standard Bank offers check and ACH Positive Pay to reduce the risk of fraudulent account activity by identifying unauthorized transactions before they occur. Business customers send batch files to Standard Bank, which include checks or ACH debits issued. Standard Bank will confirm that all transactions presented match those issued before they are paid. When an item does not match, the exception is communicated to our customers for their review. There is also a mobile integration for exception approvals on-the-go.
Dual control is another widely used service as it helps to prevent internal fraud or theft as well as have two sets of eyes to mitigate common human errors such as typos or inaccurate data entry. Standard Bank has customized this function for countless for-profit, public, and non-profit businesses.
Decisions on loan and account parameters are reviewed by key decision-makers who are local to the areas they serve and truly understand the local needs and challenges. By speaking directly with decision-makers at the bank, processes are made simpler and less time is spent waiting for approvals. Local decision-making is a huge benefit to local organizations who prefer quicker answers and less hoops.
Coupling with outstanding service, core to Standard Bank’s mission, bank associates volunteer with organizations that share a commitment to their community. They spend thousands of hours every year giving back to the same communities where they live and work. There is a good chance we have already served your organization in time or dollars!
Through its charitable foundation, Standard Bank gives back to local non-profit entities, often providing much-needed funding to organizations that don’t have access to large competitive grant programs. Since 2011, the Standard Bank Charitable Foundation has donated more than $750,000 to causes such as school projects and programs, educational resources, fire departments, revitalization projects and regularly support to non-profit organizations that help the most vulnerable neighbors through food, shelter, and life improvement programming.
Standard Bank is also dedicated to local Make-A-Wish Foundation® chapters and has donated over a half million dollars to make over 150 wishes come true for LOCAL wish children. Since 1994, every Standard Bank office and department has donated and raised money for the cause on an ongoing basis.
The above ten reasons are why community banks are truly one of the best fits for local schools, governments, businesses, and non-profits. Local community banks have it all: the amenities and competitive rates as the big banks, the robust cybersecurity and mobile functions of online banks, AND the hometown connection that creates a personal banking experience.
To learn more about community banking or Standard Bank’s business solutions, stop in to your local community banking office to connect with one of our business banking or lending professionals. See locations at www.standardbankPA.com/locations.