By Colin Barrett, President/CEO, Tennessee Bankers Association
As I write this column, we are just days removed from the devastating tornadoes on Tuesday, March 3. I have spoken with a number of bankers from the affected areas and the impact is just being fully understood. While several branches suffered damage or lost power, every bank is operational and serving their customers. Meanwhile, banks throughout the state are coming together with financial contributions and man-power to assist their fellow Tennesseans. Because that is what this industry and state always does. From tornadoes to fires to floods, we take care of each other.
And while stepping up to help our neighbors provides short-term support, it is the confidence in the strength of the banking industry that provides the long-term comfort. Of all the challenges faced in the aftermath, none was a lack of faith in the banking industry. Our banks create public confidence, and the role they play in the emotional well-being of individuals, families and businesses during a time of crisis cannot be overstated.
And it isn’t just the tornadoes on everyone’s mind these days. At this moment, a handful of cases of the coronavirus have been identified in Tennessee. I have spoken with many banks that are reviewing their business continuity plan, planning for something they can neither predict nor control. And while I am confident the number of coronavirus cases will have increased by the time you are reading this; I am equally confident that Tennessee banks will continue to take care of their customers and provide the comfort they need during uncertain times.
In a conversation with a Congressional Chief of Staff this morning I was asked, “What are the banks doing to help customers with coronavirus concerns?” My response was simple, “Working to meet customers’ needs.” It’s what you do – each and every day. It is the reason you are the trusted voices and leaders of your communities.
Within hours of the tornadoes, I received calls from bankers and bank associations throughout the country. I heard from Rob Nichols at the ABA and Rebeca Romero Rainey at the ICBA. Everyone wanting to know what they could do to support our banks and their customers during this time. An industry that shows up for each other like this can accomplish anything.
History tells us that we will always come face to face with adversity, with disaster or calamity. The old adage still rings true: We are judged, not by the bad things that happen to us, but how we respond to them. I am always proud to represent this industry, but particularly proud with the way we respond when adversity strikes our communities.
I am hopeful that, as you read this, progress is being made to control the coronavirus and tornado recovery is well underway. And I am confident that regardless of the situation, Tennessee bankers will be extending a helping hand to their customers and communities