Community Banking Month Spotlight: Royal Bank-USA

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Royal Bank-USA
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Royal Bank-USA from Elroy, Wis. In the following interview, Brand Development Manager Natalie Adams explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
Our employees. We have an extremely dedicated and knowledgeable staff with tenure that almost doubles the industry average. Our team continues to grow, which has resulted in a great balance of youthful energy and valuable experience.

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
We have 15 branches located in rural communities of Central and Southwest Wisconsin with average populations of 1,300 people. Many residents travel to work, school or for shopping, and our geographic footprint allows customers convenient access to any one of our locations along the way. In addition, we’re big enough to invest in the latest technology for convenient banking, but remain small enough to offer a personalized customer experience.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
We found a lost tooth when counting a customer’s coin once; had a 6-year-old boy ‘water the bushes’ outside the front door while his mother finished up banking inside with a teller; and had a car run into the side of our building in Gays Mills. Each day brings a new surprise!

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
Last year, our presidents were featured on the cover of Northwestern Financial Review magazine. The article highlighted the unique structure of our bank leadership and gave a great voice to the personality of our bank. It was an honor to be featured on the front cover and extremely humbling for the bank and our executive team.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
After following many banks on social media, we decided to join in on the fun and launched our Facebook page in December of last year. This has given us a great outlet to connect with customers in real-time and has really helped to humanize our brand.

How do you celebrate Community Banking Month?
We have treats in our lobbies from local shops, teach about financial literacy and expand on ICBA’s #GoLocal and #BankLocally campaigns. Each branch has signs that say “I {heart} My Community Bank Because…” for customers to fill out and take a selfie with. There have been so many good ones already, including “because they helped me buy my house 5 years ago today!” We heart Community Banking Month!

Community Bank Spotlight: First Green Bank

First_Green_BankIn recognition of Earth Day, ICBA is spotlighting First Green Bank in Mount Dora, Fla. The community bank was founded in 2009 with a mission to do the right thing for the environment as well as its customers, communities and shareholders.

According to First Green Bank, it offers discounted interest rates for LEED-certified commercial and residential projects, and its First Green Foundation nonprofit provides assistance for installing solar panels. The community bank’s buildings are built or converted for energy efficiency, it offers charging stations at most branches for electric and hybrid vehicles, and approximately 90 percent of customers receive paperless statements.

This week, First Green Bank is celebrating Earth Day with a Facebook trivia contest and giveaway.

Chairman and CEO Ken LaRoe discussed the ICBA member’s mission and performance in a interview earlier this year.

Community Banking Month Spotlight: Foundations Bank

Foundations_BankCommunity Banking Month Spotlight: Foundations Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on Foundations Bank from Pewaukee, Wis. In the following interview, Vice President of Retail Banking Catherine Kolton explains what is unique about this local community bank.

What is unique about your community bank?
Foundations Bank is not just a community bank. We are a family, and when our customers visit us, they feel like they are amongst friends and are welcome to come on in, have a cup of coffee and visit with a staff who not only knows their name, but knows them. We do not just handle banking transactions. We hold events for our neighbors to come and meet other neighbors and share ideas for new ventures. We make it a priority to make sure our customers know that we care about them and their future success.

At Foundations Bank we are more than just a bank, we are an advocate for the business owners, non-profits and individuals in the community. We believe that we have to serve our community by volunteering, sponsoring events and providing loans to businesses and individuals in our community. We truly make Pewaukee a better place to live and work. Our bank president sits in the lobby with his door open to allow customers to stop in and say hello.

How does your community bank uniquely serve your local community?
Foundations Bank hosts an event every quarter called “For Women by Women,” where women in the community can come enjoy dinner and listen to speakers on different topics. This event allows women business owners the opportunity to spotlight their own business by presenting education on various topics, networking, and providing recognition from other women in the community. The event is free and is open to the public.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
One of the funniest and most fun things that Foundations Bank does is hosts an annual Trick or Treat Event in October for kids 13 and under. Everyone from the bank dresses up, and of course all the kids do too. We decorate the whole bank and have an office decorating contest, costume contest and pumpkin carving, where the kids judge the best pumpkin. We provide a safe environment for kids to roam and trick or treat while the parents can relax and have treats too.

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
As a manager, my proudest moment is also one of the hardest. We have had two employees hired by our customers, and although it hurts to lose an employee, it is wonderful to know that the tellers are providing such excellent customer service that the business owners are thinking about Foundations Bank as the best place for them to hire people from.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
When we updated our website in 2014, it was challenging and fun because it completely overhauled our look and feel. We have had numerous compliments about the website. When we first opened the bank in 2005, every employee participated in strategic planning sessions on Saturdays. We had five sessions on Saturdays to outline a SWOT analysis and set goals. This enforced ownership at every level of the organization and set the culture of who we were and what we wanted to achieve. We saw the benefit of the entire staff delivering the same message and working toward the same goals.

Community Banking Month Spotlight: The Murray Bank

Community Banking Month Spotlight: The Murray Bank
Today’s Member Spotlight focuses on The Murray Bank from Murray, Ky. In the following interview, Marketing Coordinator Tim Stark explains how his community bank’s school spirit makes it unique.

What is unique about your community bank?
As the only locally owned bank in our community, The Murray Bank is heavily involved with both of our local school systems. We came up with a creative way to not only help, but to allow customers and fans to have a way to show their school spirit and earn money for their prospective school system at the same time. The Murray Bank offers two “Spirit Debit Cards,” one for each of our local school systems. Each card features a logo of the school of choice on the face of the card, and customers can choose which school-themed card they would like to use. For each swipe of the Spirit Debit Cards, The Murray Bank shares the fee income per transaction with that school. In February 2015, The Murray Bank was pleased to present each school with a check in the amount of $5,500. With this year’s donation, The Murray Bank Spirit Debit Card donation totals more than $27,500 to each school.

What is the quirkiest, strangest or funniest thing you’ve seen at your community bank?
One of the funniest things I have seen in my short time here was when we participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge last year. The reactions of the president, vice presidents and other officers were priceless. To have more than half of our office staff participating in one way or another, and to be able to have some of our local ALS patients come out and watch, was a very special day. To see them laughing at us freezing as the ice water was poured on us was worth every chill!

What is your proudest moment from your time at your community bank?
One of the proudest moments I have happens every day when I go out into the community and visit with our customers and future customers. I am proud to work for an organization that is community oriented and community supported. And to hear our customers talk about how they are proud to bank with us because of what we do for our hometown every day, makes me proud every day.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on at your community bank?
My favorite project I have worked on so far has been The Murray Bank “Back to School Family Movie Matinee.” We offer an opportunity for our community to come out and have a family day at our local theater, right before the kids start back to school in the fall. We pay the price of admission and offer free popcorn and soda to all who attend. We offer door prizes, free pictures made with props from the movie and an overall fun atmosphere as our staff works the ticket counter and refreshment stand. Last year we showed the movie “Planes: Fire and Rescue” and brought out the local fire department and firefighters for the kids to interact with. The kids could get into the fire trucks, talk with the local firefighters, and have their pictures made with the firefighters.

Montana Based American Federal Savings Bank: Commitment to Financial Literacy in Local High Schools

American Federal Savings Bank, located in Montana, offers employees the Financial Wellness program as well as offering members of their local communities access to Financial Peace University. Specifically, American Federal reaches out to more than 450 students at 11 area high schools as part of its Foundations in Personal Finance. 

American Federal is the first bank in Montana to have initiated this practice and sponsor in local high schools. Sponsorship was the idea of the bank’s CEO, Pete Johnson. In 2010, the program began in Helena, Bozeman, Butte and Townsend, and in 2012, the financial literacy program expanded into Missoula, Hamilton, Big Timber, Livingston, Billings and other eastern Montana communities.

Throughout the month of August, we’ll be posting regular posts highlighting financial literacy information, including community banks who are active in their local communities’ financial literacy programs.

Have a story to share? Reach out to either Audrey Wright-Cipriano at or Jessica Wallace at 

Back to school finance tips for college students

Don’t panic yet, kids! There are still a few more weeks of summer left. But for incoming college freshmen, creating and managing your own finances is something that might be new to you.

Keystone Community Bank in Kalamazoo, Michigan posted six tips last summer with suggestions for incoming college students:

1. Open a checking account at a community bank in the town where the student will be going to school. Have the student put at least one other signer on the account, such as a parent (or both parents if applicable), who may have to deposit funds into the account or need access to the account in the future. Remember, banks cannot deal with someone efficiently if they’re not on the account.

2. Keep account information confidential and don’t share account numbers, passwords, PINs, etc.

3. Get a debit card to go with the checking account and get some minimal overdraft protection, just in case you or your student make an error in your account. Mistakes do happen.

4. Don’t get paper statements. Opt for electronic statements and get online banking, mobile banking and bill pay, which are free at many banks. Students tend to move frequently, so electronic statements avoid the needless hassle (and security risk) of paper statements getting in the wrong hands or not getting forwarded.

5. Use online or mobile banking to check the account daily. It just takes a couple of minutes and you can make sure the activity going through your account is all legitimate. Plus, you might be able to avoid an error that could result in overdraft charges, which are expensive.

6. Students: avoid credit card offers for the most part, or at least first talk about it with your parents, so you can make a good decision.

What other pieces of advice would you give young adults on how to handle their money?