A CDFI doing an incredible amount of small business and farm lending in southcentral Missouri
Small town banks are still an incredibly important part of today’s economy and stand in contrast with the mega banks that have been called “too big to fail.” Small, community banks have a level of accountability which larger banks do not, because they’re never going to receive government bailout money when they make risky investments. Not only this, but because their employees have stronger and more personal relationships with their members, there’s a level of trust, resulting in smaller banks being held directly accountable by their customers. However, it can be incredibly hard for them to survive and keep up with the costs of modern banking technologies.
Legacy Bank & Trust Company in southcentral Missouri is the perfect example of a bank which has built a level of trust between their employees and customers and truly serves the communities they work in. While one of their locations is in Springfield, MO, the third-largest city in the state, their other six branches are in small towns with populations of fewer than 15,000 residents. The south central region of Missouri is one of the poorer parts of the state, with a poverty rate of 20%, while the state poverty rate sits at about 11%. This is partially because the region is largely agricultural, and agriculture has been declining in the U.S. for a century.
For this reason, and like many regions we’ve looked at before, the communities Legacy Bank & Trust serves have unique needs, particularly for farming loans to support their agricultural sector. Because many of them may be unbanked or underbanked, typical of rural regions with high poverty rates, they may have a distrust of banks and want to have a more transparent and personal relationship with their bankers.
Legacy Bank & Trust is a relatively small bank, while still having grown significantly in recent decades, with under $250 million in assets. Designated a CDFI by the U.S. Department of Treasury, Legacy Bank & Trust is also a designated CDBI by NCIF, meaning that at least 50% of their branches are located in low- and moderate-income census tracts (four of their seven branches) and at least 40% of their housing lending goes to low- and moderate-income households (50.5% of their housing lending). While only 30% of their lending is devoted to housing, it’s because they’ve made a huge commitment to bolstering the small-town economies they work in. An incredible 38.5% of their lending is allotted to small business, and an even more incredible amount is devoted to small farm lending at 22.5% of their lending. Not only do they prioritize the right things in their portfolio, they also use the majority of their assets for lending, with a net-loans-to-deposits ratio of 98%.
Legacy Bank and Trust emphasizes consistently throughout their website their commitment not only to building strong and lasting relationships with their customers, but also to investing in and building the communities they work in, particularly through working with small businesses. Their original location in Plato, MO, (a town of 103) is still standing 112 years after opening, while many banks would have abandoned serving such a tiny town because very small communities aren’t seen as profitable in the banking industry. They not only have a stellar lending portfolio, from our perspective, they also have relationships with the local Small Business Association and other community organizations which allow them to have a more compassionate understanding of economic landscapes they work in.
They offer both online and mobile banking options, so anyone looking to invest in underbanked, agricultural and rural populations in southcentral Missouri can invest in this Better Banking Option. Check out their website today to get started. Remember, moving your money to an impactful community banking institution is the best and easiest way to make your money matter.