by Rob Nichols, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association
One of the reasons the banking industry is seeing an improved policy environment in Washington is because bankers have spent the last few years telling their stories.
They didn’t ask for regulatory relief because they were tired of red tape (even though they undoubtedly are). They asked for regulatory reform because rules were making it hard for their banks to make good loans to creditworthy customers and were diverting resources that could be better spent helping their communities thrive. Those stories – of how a perhaps well-intentioned but poorly executed provision in law was harming the people it was supposed to help – have made a difference.
ABA, too, has been telling bankers’ story. We started our reputational campaign a couple years ago with a special website – aba.com/AmericasBanks – that offered data illustrating the role banks play in their communities and the economy. In April, we took our efforts up several notches with a reimagined site that really brings that data to life.
Visit aba.com/AmericasBanks and you’ll find not only national statistics on how much banks have lent to small businesses, farms, homeowners and state and local governments, but also – for the first time — an interactive map that allows you to see banks’ economic impact by state. Data points include jobs, branch/office locations, mortgage, small business and small farm loans; customers and volunteer hours donated.
You’ll also find anecdotes, photos and videos – most submitted by banks – that show what their retail and business customers value most in them. Such customer testimonials include praise for a bank’s mobile app, the support provided following a hurricane and the guidance that helped one couple buy their first home. As one customer put it when describing his raspberry farm’s decades-long relationship with a local bank, “it’s super important to have a bank that understands the business, understands community, understands what we’re doing, our challenges and that Mother Nature plays a big role.”
Still more stories demonstrate banks’ commitment to local nonprofits and revitalizing a local neighborhood, and spotlight ways bank employees have gone above-and-beyond for their customers, including one who checked up on an elderly customer daily – including weekends and holidays — for more than 10 years.
One must-see video on the site (under “Helping Communities”) is a special eight-minute documentary ABA produced that demonstrates how three banks of very different sizes, all on one city block, collectively drive growth and renewal in downtown Denver. The focus is Denver – but it’s a story playing out in countless communities across America, providing a visual illustration of how bankers support the activities and growth of manufacturers, property developers, service businesses, nonprofits and others as those companies and organizations drive employment and opportunity in the city.
What you find on the America’s Banks site is just the beginning. We have more material we’ll be rotating in later, and we hope you’ll help us keep the content fresh by sending similar videos, photos, customer testimonials or employee stories to AmericasBanks@aba.com.
We also ask that you help us amplify the good news by sharing the site far and wide. For help in doing this, please download our social media guide at aba.com/AmericasBanksGuide.
By amplifying the story of America’s banks, you can help policymakers and the public better understand how banks deliver jobs, growth, safety and convenience.