Letters From Leton: Gotta Beat that Competition!

What if we had no (or limited) competition? That is hard to imagine when we think about how many other Banks, Credit Unions, Insurance Companies offering CDs, Investment Brokers, Car Finance Companies and online Fintechs we compete with today.

Would you believe me if I told you there was a time when state banking laws were so restrictive that many (if not most) areas in Virginia only had one Bank in town? An example of that is our home office market of Lee County where each town only had one office (until we established a branch office in Pennington Gap) and my home County of Wise, VA.

Establishing a new office was no easy task. To apply for a new office you literally had to write a book as your application with hundreds and hundreds of pages of information and data market insights. All in the days before Google. The new Bank coming to town was viewed by some as an outsider and sometimes as a “reckless entity”.

Often your effort to establish an office in another town was fought tooth and nail by the Bank already there – even taking their opposition to Court!  Some Banks did everything they could to stifle competition – to keep a “captive bank audience” and limit people’s Banking options. They literally wanted no competition for their services. For years, many Banks had just that, and they poured their energy into these types of efforts to block competition.

Why, you may ask, take this walk down memory lane when things are so different today from the way they were? 

You are right – the banking environment of the past is so different than the one we are in now – with one exception – the perception and attitude of some bankers.

Some Bankers who grew up in a different and less competitive time want to go back to those times. Sometimes that longing to go backwards versus forward manifests itself in hesitation, even opposition, to develop a Bank into a modern business entity that could be most effective in offering the latest products and services with a human face.

Our approach to our jobs, how we interact with our customers, and how we deliver our products and services has to evolve. It is that simple. There is no option to block the competition.

Our course of action is set – adapt and compete or follow the course of organizations who have surrendered.

Me? I Gotta Beat the Competition! 

What about you?

– Leton

“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.