Good Banks In A Bad Bank World
by Mark Singleton
You see the headlines. Banks get bailouts. Banks in trouble. Banks give huge bonuses. Banks in crisis.
What is the key word in all of those statements? “Banks.” Greedy, scrooge-like, nasty ole banks.
So as a banker, why in the world would I ever be proud to be the president of the largest independent bank in EllisCounty? Well, it’s because all banks and bankers are not the same.
The national media has done a hatchet-job on painting the financial industry canvas with a universal image that banks and other financial institutions are at the core of the crisis. Nothing could be further from the facts.
It is true that the US Treasury and Federal Reserve committed ONE TRILLION DOLLARS in bailout funds to financial institutions in the United States, which also included Wall Street financial firms and mortgage companies. However, out of the 8,430 active banks in the United States, the FDIC states that 194 banks have failed since 2005. That is less than 3% of the total banks in America.
I’m proud to be included in the vast number of good banks and bankers. More than 8,000 banks in the United States have earned and gained their customers’ trust. The overwhelming majority of banks, the one’s that don’t make the headlines, didn’t take bailouts and are not in trouble.
The bankers I know, including myself, don’t get huge bonuses, fly in private jets or have penthouse offices. I drive a jeep and a pick-up, fly in the cheap seats and feel like my biggest bonus is that I am privileged enough to have a job.
Is everything rosy? Heck no. We will probably see another round or two of housing foreclosures because the big banks and mortgage companies offered 100% financing and other non-conservative mortgage plans to allow people with shaky credit to purchase a home.
Unemployment will remain the same or rise in the nation because some areas of the country with vulnerable industries have been hit hard. We are blessed in Texas with a fairly strong state economy that is not totally dependent on a specific industry like we were with oil in the 1980s and early 90s.
The cost of goods and services will continue to rise because everything from feeding cattle that produce milk to lumber for new construction is going up. However, being driven into a belt-tightening mindset is a positive factor. Now, reducing personal debt and paying in cash is the “in thing.”
This new tendency of being more conservative with household spending leads those of us that deal with economic trends to be optimistic.
I’m not advocating the establishment of a “Hug Your Banker Day,” however, I am very proud to be a part of the 8,000 banks that continue to earn the respect of our customers because integrity and retaining your trust still means a lot to us.
Mark Singleton is President and CEO of Citizens National Bank of Texas, a 142 year old financial institution with 15 banking facilities throughout the area.