A Better Banking Option proving that big doesn’t necessarily mean bad when it comes to banking
Small banks are typically thought of as better in the context of community banking, for such reasons as commitment to their communities, keeping money circulating within the community, not engaging in speculative trading, willingness to make mid-size loans, and more. We tend to look for small banks on this blog and prefer banks with fewer than $4 billion in assets.
However, just because a bank is bigger doesn’t mean it doesn’t provide great service to its customers and do a fair amount of lending in low-and-middle-income neighborhoods. Banner Bank is a great example of a larger bank--with $10 billion in assets and nearly 175 branches in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington--that reliably makes a positive impact in the communities they work in. On their website’s “about us” page, they emphasize personal service as well as transparency when dealing with their clients. In 2018 alone, their employees volunteered 23,000 hours with community organizations, and in their mission statement they say they “will emphasize strong client relationships and a high level of community involvement,” and provide upward mobility opportunities for their employees.
Banner Bank’s statistics are impressive, especially considering the areas Banner Bank works in are affluent compared to other parts of the country. They do a significant amount of small business lending at approximately 18% of their assets, and even do a little bit of small farm lending. Unfortunately, like many very large banks, they do a small amount of speculative trading which essentially means they’re trading some assets in financial markets rather than investing in a more practical and productive part of the economy, but the amount they do engage is minimal.
They are a CDBI according to NCIF’s social performance metrics, with nearly half of their housing focus (at 22% of their portfolio) going to low-and-moderate-income mortgage loans. Sixty percent of their branches are in less affluent neighborhoods, significant in the more affluent Northwest. With a solid return on assets, net loans to deposits ratio, and a Satisfactory CRA rating, it’s clear that this banking option is a solid choice when it comes to such a large institution. Learn more about this Better Banking Option at their website.