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Failure of corporate banking in understanding small-town customers



David Rauzi

Corporate banks misunderstand the relationships they have with their small-town customers.

Recently, closures were announced for offices of Umpqua Bank in Kooskia and Riggins, and Wells Fargo in Cottonwood. On Umpqua’s part, the corporate explanation is with how banking has evolved during the last decade with more done online and through phones, and less through physical locations.

Let’s be honest: With fewer bodies going through those doors, the corporate bean counters see no need to subsidize those rural area branches any longer, preferring to focus on their more lucrative urban locations.

It’s not personal, it’s just business.

Likely so, but corporate banks provide important services for small-town America. So, when they decide to shut their local offices, they diminish those opportunities offered in our communities. Closer to home, these closures impact our friends and neighbors employed at these offices, many of whom have made long-term commitments and careers out of this work.

Our communities prefer to do business through personal connections, whenever possible, more so perhaps than those in large urban areas where multiple banking options — with their multitude of branches — offer the standard corporate service around every corner. By the nature of that urban offering, those customers have little tie to the success or failure of a branch or bank.

But here, we invest more in our local banks as we know the economic fates of both ourselves and our friends and neighbors are intertwined.

Such closures are economic reality, and these will mean those looking to do their banking business in person will be making trips to Grangeville and McCall. But we’d not be surprised at all to see many of these accounts shift to other bank and credit union options that understand and respect the commitment and loyalty of its small-town customers.


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