Holding onto tradition

Data on the FDIC website shows that 2,469 insured institutions were chartered in 1922 or earlier. These centenarians and other long established banks generally have a rich tradition. If you work in one of these banks, I think this is your moment.

People have a natural affinity for traditions yet we live in a world that is doing away with them. I came to this conclusion when I heard USC and UCLA are joining the Big Ten. As a University of Minnesota graduate and a college football fan, the idea of these two Pac-12 schools joining a conference rooted in the Midwest just rubs me the wrong way. Hey, I admit I had a hard time when Penn State joined the Big Ten, not to mention Rutgers, Maryland and the University of Nebraska. I grew up in an era when the Rose Bowl — the oldest of the college bowl games — meant something. With two of the Pac-12’s most celebrated teams joining the Big Ten, the Rose Bowl loses meaning. The 2024 college football season will mark the end of a great tradition.

All kinds of traditions are fading: Who sends Valentines through the mail anymore? Fewer people are bothering with Christmas cards or handwritten thank-you notes. Who listens to the radio these days? Is a Sunday afternoon drive still a thing? Or even seeing a movie at a theater? How about simply talking on the phone rather than texting? How about using a film camera, changing your own oil, dressing up to go downtown, washing your car in the driveway, watching broadcast television or weekly family meals? 

Traditions are appealing because they reinforce a sense of stability, which is related to security. Change is ongoing and inevitable, and seems to be accelerating. So be it. But if you offer something with a legacy that goes back decades, something that seems stable and secure, then I think you have something very special. You have something people want. Legacy, of course, is no excuse for failing to keep up with the times, or for failing to offer modern products and services. Properly communicated, the traditions around your well-established bank can be a source of comfort to your customers, and not just your elderly customers. Gen-Xers and Millennials are looking for things that are lasting and reliable, too. 

If you live in one of those Big Ten communities (and there are 14 of them, soon to be 16), maybe college football is giving you an opportunity to spotlight the meaning, and value, of real tradition.