Navigating the perils of Reg O

Most community bankers are familiar with Regulation O, the Federal Reserve’s set of rules intended to prevent abuse of bank credit by bank presidents, directors and other “insiders.” Reg O has been around for 40 years, and the terrain of compliance is well trodden. But familiarity doesn’t necessarily shield bankers and bank owners from the risks of running afoul of this key regulation. Its stipulations and restrictions are complicated, and pitfalls await those who fail to pay attention to the details. [Continue]

Sociability is Fidelity Bank & Trust’s differentiator

National recognition by Newsweek surprised the team at Fidelity Bank & Trust, Dubuque, which serves 27 communities in northeast Iowa, plus two in Wisconsin and one in Illinois. The $1.5 billion bank is “very social,” said Kathy McAllister, chief retail and marketing officer. Getting a boost from a national magazine injected some octane in the bank’s already high-performance marketing strategy. In terms of its competitive edge, McAllister points to the bank’s social engagement and its investment in being the “local” provider. [Continue]

Security First Bank keeps moving with mobile branch

In an era when mobile banking implies transactions conducted via smartphone, Security First Bank, Lincoln, continues to deliver critical banking services to underserved communities through a branch on wheels. The bank launched the Badlands Express in 1998 to serve customers on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The fully-outfitted mobile branch makes four runs per week. [Continue]

Change is real

Fourteen months after the coronavirus paralyzed the country, it seems we are returning to pre-pandemic normalcy. Most of the people I talk to are looking forward to a summer when we can meet in person again, attend live events, and socialize without fear. But what is “normal” and will we ever be able to get back to the way things were? Some of the changes of the last year do not seem to be retractable. Consider: Customers, employees and cash. [Continue]

Iowa bank redefines ‘community’ with green energy lending niche

In the past decade, Decorah Bank & Trust has reduced its carbon footprint to zero, down from 814 metric tons, and the bank has a majority market share in its northeast Iowa community, which prioritizes solar energy. In fact, the Decorah community is developing a reputation as the state’s solar power capitol. “As a community banker, the Decorah area is a wonderful, vibrant community,” said Ben Grimstad, president and CEO of Decorah Bank & Trust. “But we’re not growing the population.” [Continue]

Preparing a response to a looming crisis

The banking industry is no stranger to crisis. From the Great Depression’s collapse of the financial system to the ag crisis of the 1980s to the housing crisis of 2008/2009… each era has brought about major — and permanent — changes to banking regulations. [Continue]

A clear-eyed vision for the future

Jason MacDuff, the fervent leader and vice president of Greenpenny Bank, moved to California from Decorah, Iowa, when he was 2 years old. Navigating the effects of pollution became a normal aspect of MacDuff’s life. He has vivid memories of days, bereft of wind and agitated by heat, when dangerous smog ignited community-wide “Spare the Air” days. [Continue]