Bankers from Around the Region Share Thoughts on Pandemic

 

There’s no doubt COVID-19 has impacted all of us – and that it’s affected us in different ways. To find out what changes the pandemic has caused at banks around the region, we asked some of our correspondent banking partners what business looks like in their banks now compared with before the pandemic.

Overall, while the coronavirus has certainly caused challenges for all financial institutions, it has also created opportunities.

 

Curt Kelley

Curt Kelley, president and CEO of Little Horn State Bank of Hardin and Billings, Mont.

“The pandemic has helped us increase the use of our online and internet banking. I believe customer patterns and habits have changed significantly. Our lobby hours are reduced, but we remained open after the original 6-week closure. Lobby traffic is down, as people have taken responsibility on their own to stay out of public places if they are at risk. The number of meetings with loan customers is down, and loan business is increasingly being handled via email or electronic means.”

 

Brent Heinert

Brent Heinert, president of Plains Commerce Bank in Aberdeen, S.D.

“As a community bank that prides itself on creating sustainable customer relationships, we now are finding different ways to establish and maintain what we’ve diligently worked to create. Pre-pandemic, our employees were visiting with customers daily, whether in branch or on location. Visits look a bit different these days, with meetings taking place through a plastic shield or via video call. We’ve also found an increased rate of adoption in our online and mobile channels. Ensuring we have top-notch products and services has been key to offering uninterrupted banking services during a time that has been less than normal for all. We are easing back into our ‘new normal’ seamlessly yet remaining fluid as things continue to develop and change.”

 

Pete Jahner

Pete Jahner, president of Kirkwood Bank & Trust in Bismarck, N.D. 

“Face masks, hand sanitizer stations, Plexiglas shields, social distance markers and sanitizing between customers are the new normal at Kirkwood Bank & Trust. While the pandemic has created many challenges, it has also given us the opportunity for our team members to come together and quickly adapt to a very rapidly changing environment. The pandemic has forced our service delivery methods to greatly improve and required creativity in many circumstances to fulfill customer needs. Unpredictable team member absences have pushed us to improve workflow backup when working virtually is not an option. As we have all discovered, operating in a pandemic is not an easy task. However, the willingness to accept the challenges and create solutions has greatly enhanced our operating environment.”

 

JeffreyGScharfenkamp

Jeff Scharfenkamp, president and CEO of Availa Bank in Carroll, Iowa

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of our banking operation. Our bank lobbies were closed from March 17 until June 8, and our customers quickly adapted to new ways of doing business through increased usage of mobile, online, drive-up and other banking solutions. The pandemic has also brought about some positive changes for our organization. With 16 banking locations across northwestern Iowa, we significantly increased and improved our internal bank communications through the use video conferencing and web-based meetings. I am not sure how quickly customers will be returning to our lobbies, but organizationally we are committed to using technology to drive our future internal bank communications.”