As an ag banker with a deep understanding of what it means to work in agriculture, Bank of the Rockies’ Heather Malcolm is involved in numerous initiatives to improve agriculture and banking in her home state of Montana and throughout the United States.
A few years ago, Bank of the Rockies chose to become a preferred lender for the USDA, Farm Service Agency. Recently, Malcolm evaluated the impact of that decision. Among the benefits, she cited:
- Increases in the number of FSA-guaranteed loans the bank originates;
- Easier line of credit renewals;
- Ability to close additional loans for existing customers more quickly;
- Quicker loan restructurings;
- Public relations benefits, as exposure from announcements about the program generated new customers;
- A dialogue among bank staff created by the need to complete the application process that ultimately included evaluating all lending practices and made the bank’s credit policies stronger.
“After two years of practical experience in the midst of what is proving to be a very challenging farm economy, our experience with the FSA Preferred Lender Program has been a resounding success,” Malcolm said.