Banking resiliency offsets industry challenges

New Hampshire’s banking industry is constantly evolving and improving their technology, customer service and best practices

New Hampshire’s banking industry is one that is constantly evolving and improving their technology, customer service and best practices to keep pace with an ever-changing world and the needs of their customers.

NH Business Review reached out to one New Hampshire community bank to get more insight into how they are dealing with these challenges.

Brian F. Bozak, President and COO, Franklin Savings Bank,

Q: What are some of the good things you do as a community bank?

A: Franklin Savings Bank’s vision statement states that we take pride in being a community bank that dedicates itself to the financial well-being of the individuals, families, businesses and communities that it serves.

We mean what we say! Our employees are very active in our communi ties volunteering a great deal of their personal time. They do this not only because we encourage it but because they want to actively support our communities. In addition, the bank provides much-needed financial support to these same communities by way of donations to various organizations as well as tax credit purchases.

Among our larger donations is the FSB Fund for Community Advancement. The Fund was formed in 1997 with a $1 million contribution from the Bank meant to provide support for substantial projects that significantly enhance the lives of people in the communities that the Bank serves. To date, the fund has provided $1.1 million to the community with the original contribution intact to continue providing support. In addition, the FSB Scholarship Fund was established in 1994 to benefit local area students who are pursuing higher education. The Bank has awarded 680 scholarships totaling $380,000 since the fund’s inception. Most recently, FSB provided $100,000 to form the Supporting Neighbors Fund. This is in partnership with local resource centers to provide funding for vehicle fuel assistance, home heating assistance, electrical bills and medications. There are so many wonderful organizations in the state that do exceptional work to help our friends and neighbors, and we are grateful to be able to do our part.

Q: Are New Hampshire banks poised to withstand a global recession, and what steps can they take to mitigate this challenge?

A: The short answer is yes, New Hampshire banks are in a very strong financial condition to withstand a global recession. In fact, NH banks have a solid history of demonstrated strength and resiliency. During the Great Recession, there were hundreds of bank failures across the U.S. while NH had zero!

Although I don’t expect a repeat of the Great Recession anytime soon, we are facing strong economic headwinds such as inflation, rising interest rates, softening loan demand, and decreased liquidity. However, NH banks are very well capitalized and many, including Franklin Savings Bank, are mutual and have been around for over 100 years and have weathered these events many times before.

Still, it’s important to stay focused, as it’s in times like these that mistakes can be made. Given the challenges noted, it can be tempting to overreach and make decisions that normally wouldn’t be made for the sake of short-term goals. Banks that keep a long-term outlook and a clear vision will likely withstand whatever challenges lie ahead.

Q: Should New Hampshire banks continue to invest in their digital and online banking experience to retain and grow their customer base?

A: Absolutely! But it’s important to consider who are we looking to attract with flashy digital products and experiences. We hear frequently that we have to market to and attract millennials. Although this is still the case, it’s easy to forget that millennials are all grown adults now, and many of us are in our 40’s! The upcoming younger generation has grown up with technology all around them, so it’s not a question of whether or not New Hampshire banks should invest in digital and the online banking experience — this generation won’t accept anything less. Someone I was talking to the other day told me about a conversation they were having with one of their kids. When he told them he didn’t have a phone growing up, their response was, “how did you buy things?” That response sums up whether or not we should be investing in digital and the online banking experience.

Q: How can customers protect themselves again fraud?

A: The quick answer to this is to question everything. This may seem obvious to us because we work in a highly regulated industry where we constantly have training related to fraud, but it’s the norm for bank employees to be vigilant. Unfortunately, we see all types of fraud, and it seems as though we have to question every communication for legitimacy. For example, when you receive a communication from a bank or another trusted organization asking you to take action such as opening an attachment or clicking on a link, some of the first questions you should ask are: “am I expecting this message” and/or “is this normal to receive?” Another good question, depending on the communication, is the old “is this too good to be true?” Fraudsters have become very sophisticated and even the most careful can fall victim to their scams.

Categories: Banking and Finance