Today’s Wall Street Journal featured an article by Michael Rapoport about the difficulties faced by smaller banks in meeting a growing regulatory burden, much of it brought on in the wake of the financial crisis that began in 2008. Mr. Rapoport concludes that in this era of hyper-regulation that some banks are “too small to succeed”.
The observations on strangling regulation are correct, but…
This is “loser talk” and I’m sick of it. Too small to succeed? We may be too small to do what the largest banks can do (thank God), but the Wall Street Journal doesn’t know much about the community bankers I know if they dare to say we are “too small to succeed”.
As we have heard from leadership and said ourselves, Main Street banking is a completely different industry from Wall Street banking. For good reasons we clamor for a two-tiered system of regulation. Consequently, our definition of “success” is vastly different from the Wall Street definition.
Without a doubt, we are being forced to pay for the sins of pandering politicians who created perverse incentives (i.e. everybody should own a home) and financial institutions, mortgage lenders and Wall Street investment houses who created illusory products that exploited the fantasy vision of creating something (good loans) out of nothing (bad borrowers). But the alternative is to lose our history, and our particular mission for our particular communities, by being folded into another institution.
We will continue to fight against the injustices that are allowed to exist in what should be a free market, but we are determined to not throw in the towel. We will do all in our power to insure that our shareholders recognize the value of remaining independent. Being smart, efficient and forward-thinking, we can eliminate this insidious equivalence between size and success.
I was elated to hear that the marker on the old oak tree, transformed by chain saw artist Burt Fleming into the Freedom Eagle, has been re-discovered by a new generation of Zachary citizens.
The marker was dedicated to the memory of those “WHO FOUGHT DURING THE WORLD WAR”. My father was a U. S. Navy veteran of World War II, and like most boys growing up in the 1960’s, I was raised on old black-and-white movies and tales of heroism from that conflict. Naturally, I assumed the marker was there to honor that generation of fighting men.
It was my grandfather, John L. Kennedy, Sr., who set me straight on the oak tree marker. He explained that the marker commemorated an earlier cohort of patriot citizens, the one who had gone “over there” to fight the war to end all wars, to make American safe for democracy. Like my father, my grandfather had served in the Navy. My great-uncle Preston went to France with General Pershing and the U. S. Army. With other young men from the northern end of the Parish, they departed for the battlefields of Europe from the same depot that sits hard by the now unused railroad that brought Zachary into being less than 30 years earlier.
As a boy, I would walk the short distance down High Street from the Zachary High School campus to Kennedy’s Store (where Delta Finance is today). I passed under the shadow of the largest structure in town, the massive gray water tower, and under the limbs of the gracious oak. At its base was the curious marker that caught the attention of a curious ten-year old.
We are blessed to live in a community that honors those who have served to make possible the freedoms and privileges of living in the greatest country in the history of the world. That old, worn marker reminds us that this tradition of tribute has existed in our town always, and it is our duty to see that it continues forever more.
All of us at Bank of Zachary look forward to the New Year with much anticipation, as we are on the brink of unveiling a new era of electronic banking for our (nearly) 110-year old institution.
In a few short weeks, we will begin transitioning from our existing website to a new, action-based website that will include many new features. The most significant addition will be online account opening for several of our deposit accounts, and an online loan origination system for some of our consumer loan products. To assist users, we will introduce an online chat feature that will allow real-time interaction with the same Bank of Zachary staff members you encounter in our offices and on the telephone.
We are also introducing a robust selection of educational resources, to help users with an assortment of financial questions. These easy-to-find, easy-to-use financial guides will include in-depth “white paper” treatment of many frequently asked life-event questions, along with an easy way to contact the right person at Bank of Zachary to help you with a solution.
What we are not changing is just as important as what we are changing.
The Bank of Zachary will continue to offer the type of friendly, knowledgeable and personal service that our community has come to expect. Whether you bank with us face-to-face in one of our offices, or on the telephone, or through one of a number of electronic devices, we will remain committed to delivering outstanding customer service every day.
We will celebrate our 110th anniversary this July, and a business does not exist for more than a century without learning how to provide for the changing needs of its customers. The Bank of Zachary has proudly accepted the challenge from a technically astute and increasing mobile new generation, and we will meet this challenge without compromising on our ageless commitment to personal service.
If you are a customer of the Bank of Zachary, please accept our heartfelt thanks for your patronage. We understand that you have many choices of financial institutions, and we appreciate being your Bank.
If you are not yet one of our customers, please consider the Bank of Zachary for any of your financial needs. We will do all we can to earn your business by first earning your trust and confidence.
From all of us at the Bank of Zachary, we extend our fondest hopes for a very Happy 2014!
Preston L. Kennedy
President and Chief Executive Officer