By DeVan Ard, Jr., Chairman and CEO, Reliant Bank
As an essential business during the COVID-19 global pandemic, community banks across the state have demonstrated their commitment to fulfill their promise to customers and community. While there have been myriad challenges in 2020, it has been inspiring to witness how the banking industry has come together to serve the financial needs of customers and provide lifelines for small businesses through the Payment Protection Program, allowing them to keep their doors open and continue paying their employees.
Entering the fourth quarter, many banks may be adjusting revenue outlook and evaluating the impact the pandemic and resulting economic slowdown is having on core deposits, loan growth, and credit quality. Does this mean that growth strategies and key initiatives should be placed on hold?
Staying the Course
Community banks’ ability to be nimble, build strong personal relationships and respond to customer needs cannot be understated. Despite the economic downturn, our industry is in a unique position to continue growing market share.
At Reliant Bank, we entered the COVID-19 economy with a strong capital base that allowed us to serve and extend credit during this unprecedented time of need. We continue to make loans to highly qualified borrowers and our credit team continues to monitor our loan portfolio and market conditions so that we can make the best possible credit decisions.
We are staying the course with our growth initiatives and because of our bank’s financial strength, we have an expanded opportunity to be an even better steward for our customers and local communities. While environmental conditions and normal routines have changed, we remain focused on doing the right things.
Living Company Values
This year—unlike any other—has demonstrated how community banks must live out their cultural values. Showing empathy and caring for employees, customers, and communities do not take a back seat to profits. The dedication shown by bank employees across the market as they navigate uncertainty, while no doubt feeling anxious about the health and safety of their families and themselves, has been nothing short of inspirational.
Investing in Employees
Regardless of market conditions, employees are the foundation of an organization’s success. At Reliant, we provide opportunities for employee growth through education, training, and mentorship. We have a talented, diverse, and dedicated workforce who strengthen the bank and drive growth. During the uncertainty of the pandemic, supporting our employees has been even more critical. We’ve been fortunate to have a healthy culture of empowerment, collaboration and trust that has allowed flexibility in our operating model to better ensure their health and safety, along with our customers and the communities we live and work. Investing in our employees and showing appreciation for their hard work and commitment is a key component of our growth model. The way you treat your employees depicts how employees will treat your business. Reliant employees are our most valued asset.
Expand Services and Digital Solutions
Traditional banking habits have been challenged as our delivery channels have pivoted during the pandemic. While some financial institutions have scrambled to ramp up their digital solutions, we continue to evaluate and expand our technologies to help accelerate growth. Continuing to innovate and make wise investments in technology to better serve customers and compete with larger banks is an integral part of Reliant’s growth initiatives.
Commitment to Community
Serving communities and supporting local nonprofit organizations has never been more important. A commitment to the communities we serve is core to Reliant’s mission and brand promise, and this plays an integral role in growth initiatives. While the landscape may look different this year, we are focused on finding creative ways to continue serving our communities. Honoring law enforcement, first responders and healthcare workers, and getting creative in the sponsorship of community events in the face of cancellations, demonstrates this unwavering commitment.
As a result of the pandemic, the shift to digital self-service solutions for customers has been expedited. As we strategically plan for the post-COVID future, it will be with an even sharper focus on customer behaviors, specifically whether their reliance on particular delivery channels and payment methods recover or continue to decrease. These forces will continue to challenge us to think differently while continuing to focus on giving the best, most empathetic help/advice and customer service possible.