Choosing the right bank for your financial needs is an important decision. While large national banks provide many services, local and regional banks also offer unique advantages you may want to consider. This comprehensive guide examines the top 10 benefits of using a local lender or regional bank near you.
National banks like Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo operate thousands of branches across the country. Their size gives them economies of scale, advanced technology and product breadth. However, studies show a growing preference for working with local lenders and regional banks.
Community banks and regional banks — those with under $10 billion in assets — hold over 20% of all U.S. deposits. They provide relationship-based service and expertise focused on their specific communities. Local lenders offer customized solutions not always available from large institutions.
Whether you already do business with a regional bank or are considering making the switch, understanding the unique benefits is worthwhile. This comprehensive guide examines the top 10 advantages regional and community banks offer individuals and small businesses versus large national banks.
Top 10 Benefits of Local Lenders and Regional Banks
1. Relationship Banking and Personalized Service
The number one benefit local and regional banks provide is relationship banking through personalized service. With less bureaucracy than big banks, community bank staff can provide tailored solutions based on familiarity with each customer.
Local lenders strive to understand both personal and business banking needs. Their loan officers, branch managers and tellers often know customers by name. They take time to explain options clearly and recommend products that align with customer priorities. Ongoing personal interaction and local decision making enable them to craft customized solutions.
Many community banks also offer concierge services. This provides each customer with a single point of contact who understands all their needs. The concierge coordinates with experts across the institution as required. This facilitates fast access to the right people and streamlined service.
2. Local Market Knowledge and Expertise
Local lenders possess in-depth knowledge of their communities. They understand the local economy, business environment and competitive landscape. Their experience and customized services are catered specifically to each market.
Regional banks focus their decisions, policies, products and services based on their communities. Their leaders and other personnel often have decades of local banking expertise. They understand nuances and needs in their markets that giant national institutions simply cannot match.
This enables them to make prudent loan and investment decisions. They can quickly determine feasibility and risk based on ground-level awareness. Their expertise also helps guide appropriate solutions for both individuals and businesses. Customers benefit from market-specific advice and financial products tailored to local dynamics.
3. Faster Lending Decisions
Streamlined bureaucracies allow local lenders to make faster lending decisions. Where mega banks rely on centralized processes, community banks can be more responsive. Their market expertise also enables quicker evaluation of loan applications.
Local lenders have authority to make local decisions in days or weeks rather than months. Their direct personal involvement and familiarity with borrowers also facilitates speed. This agility benefits both consumers and businesses seeking loans or new financing.
Faster response times mean you get access to capital quicker to pursue financial goals or business opportunities. The ability to rapidly process loans and provide financing is a major advantage of working with a local banking partner.
4. Flexibility and Customization
Local lenders are flexible and can customize solutions to meet unique customer needs. Their products and services are not standardized across vast national enterprises. This allows them to adapt financial offerings to best serve consumers and businesses in their footprint.
Regional banks are free to make changes without the bureaucracy of a monolithic institution. They can modify policies, underwriting criteria, rates and fees to accommodate circumstances. Their flexibility and deep customer knowledge enables crafting of personalized offerings.
For example, they may provide an unusual loan term, specialized collateral conditions, or interest-only period. This flexibility and customization enables customers to receive financial products tailored to their particular situation.
5. Focus on Relationship-Building
Local lenders concentrate on long-term relationship-building versus hard sales tactics. Their continuity of personal service fosters trust and understanding that enhances lifetime financial relationships.
While large banks incentivize staff to sell products, community banks focus on good fit and customer needs. They avoid pushing products to meet quotas. Their advisors take time to understand lifestyles, goals and preferences.
The emphasis is on trusted guidance and a holistic view over the long-term relationship. This facilitates financial solutions that align with each customer’s bigger picture versus merely selling them something today. The depth of relationship enhances satisfaction.
6. Community Focus and Reinvestment
Local banks are part of the communities they serve. Their leaders sit on local boards and non-profit committees. The banks support local groups and events. By reinvesting deposits locally, they actively contribute to regional growth and prosperity.
Their officers provide guidance to small businesses and entrepreneurs. They support startups with loans and advice to foster economic development. And their philanthropy provides assistance to charitable groups.
When you deposit money with a local bank, it gets reinvested locally through mortgages, small business loans, and other financing. Your funds support regional growth opportunities rather than absentee national shareholders. This keeps resources circulating locally.
7. Access to Leadership and Decision Makers
Unlike big banks, it’s easy to access leadership at local lenders. Managers and executives welcome meetings to understand customer challenges and solve issues.
Walk into your community bank president’s office and you will likely get a warm greeting. Try that at a major institution and you may not get past the receptionist. This access and accountability to customers is a major benefit of local lenders.
The ability to readily reach managers empowers customers. Direct access enables you to get prompt answers to questions and faster resolutions to problems. You are a name and not just an account number.
8. Local Deployment of Deposits
Depositing money with local banks ensures more funds remain within and benefit your community. They deploy deposits locally through lending and investment.
Megabanks use deposits to fund projects and loans nationally or globally. Your money flows out of your community rather than being reinvested regionally. Depositing with community banks retains more capital locally.
By using a local lender, you empower community growth. Loans to small businesses, real estate development, and consumers multiply regional economic activity. A stronger local economy benefits everyone.
9. Non-Profit and Civic Support
Local lenders actively support community non-profits and civic groups. They donate funds, sponsor events, and provide volunteers and resources. Their employees sit on local boards and committees.
Regional banks are vested in their communities. They work diligently to make them better places to live, work and grow. Their support of philanthropic organizations boosts quality of life. And sponsoring networking events connects local professionals.
When you bank with a community institution, you indirectly support these groups. Your choice helps strengthen non-profits and civic associations that make your area a better place.
10. Potentially Higher Returns on Deposits
Better loan performance means some local banks can afford to pay higher interest on deposits. Their community focus results in prudent lending and lower defaults. This enables providing deposit interest rates exceeding national bank offerings.
The spread between deposit rates and loan rates is a bank’s net interest margin. If a bank’s mortgage and commercial loans perform well, they don’t need to pad margins as much. This allows passing better returns to deposit customers.
Of course, rates vary across institutions based on financial strength, cost structure and strategy. But well-run local banks are often positioned to share higher yields on CDs, money markets and savings accounts.
Choosing the Right Local Lender
Selecting your community bank deserves investigation to find the best fit. While local lenders provide relationship banking and expertise, performance varies. These tips can guide selection of a regional bank to meet your needs:
- Asset Size – Review total assets under $10 billion for true local or regional scale. Enough to provide full services but not too big.
- Financial Strength – Check credit rating, capital ratios and profitability indicators that demonstrate long term health.
- Leadership – Look for an experienced local senior team and growth over their tenure. Focus on community banking.
- Performance – Seek consistent earnings without wild swings. Earning should mainly come from core banking, not risky fee income.
- Technology – Ensure they offer digital services, mobile apps, and seamless experiences to complement personal service.
- Culture – Look for values emphasizing relationships, integrity, and community orientation over sales.
- Footprint – Consider community banks focused in your metro area or home region for optimal local experience.
- Reviews – Check online commentary and reviews from current customers before selecting your provider.
Top Regional Bank Benefits – FAQs
Still have questions about the advantages of working with local lenders versus big national banks? Here are answers to frequently asked questions:
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What are the main advantages of using a local or regional bank?
The top benefits are relationship banking, personalized service, faster lending, flexibility, community focus, access to decision makers, and facilitation of regional growth.
How does relationship banking from a local bank work?
Local bank personnel get to know you personally. They proactively make recommendations suited to your needs and preferences versus merely completing transactions.
Why are lending decisions faster with community banks?
Streamlined local processes and authority enable community banks to approve loans in days or weeks rather than the months big banks take.
What does it mean when banks customize or tailor solutions?
They adapt offerings like loan parameters, account terms, interest rates, and fees flexibly based on individual circumstances instead of rigid one-size-fits-all products.
How does using a local bank support community growth?
They circulate deposits locally through lending and investment instead of sending them out of your area. This retains resources in your region.
Can interest rates from local banks actually be better than national banks?
Yes, some community banks offer higher yields on savings and CDs since their loan performance allows them to share higher margins with customers.
Local lenders provide relationship banking, market expertise and the ability to customize financial solutions. Their agility facilitates faster lending decisions. Community banks support regional growth and non-profits. And they offer access to leadership along with the potential for better rates.
While large national banks provide broad services, many individuals and businesses are forgoing them for personal service from community banks. The choice requires balancing your priorities and needs. For relational service from bankers invested in your community, local lenders are worth strong consideration.
This detailed guide summarizes the most compelling benefits regional and community banks offer compared to mega institutions. When making your banking decisions, be sure to evaluate the advantages of working with a trusted local partner for both personal and business needs. The opportunity to have tailored solutions and support community vitality may align perfectly with your values and priorities.