Newburyport, Local Community Banks

One of the things that has puzzled me is the response I often get from people who “recently” moved here, or who recently bought property here, about the 2 local banks in our small New England city.

The reactions could be anywhere from, “Are they real?” to “Why would any bank do banking that way?” to “If they only did x, y or z they would be making so much more money.”

My response, after a brief moment of saying to myself, “Say what?” is that not only are they real (I send folks in to look at the gorgeous interior of the Institution for Savings, for example), but that also we as a city are so incredibly lucky to have them.

Huge disclaimer: I know absolutely “zip” about banking. Anything I might have learned in the course of my research for this post comes mainly from “Wikipedia.” And yes, I can actually hear the sound of eyes quite rightly rolling, and the groans of the various versions of “say what?”

Neophyte blogger on banking. Yes, good grief.

My vast knowledge on banking from Wikipedia:

Our local community banks are “mutual savings” banks not “commercial” banks or “financial conglomerates.” Bank of America or Citigroup according to good old Wikipedia, would be examples of a “financial conglomerate.” defines a “mutual bank” as “A state-chartered savings bank owned by its depositors and managed by a board of trustees.” Or my definition of a “community bank”.

My neophyte understanding of this is that the term “mutual” is the opposite of “non-mutual.” A non-mutual company is a company “whose shares can be traded on the stock market.” (Again, my old friend Wikipedia.) Or in my book, a “faceless” corporation” and not a community” bank.

What does this all have to do with anything you might quite rightly ask.

For me the fact that Newburyport has community banks is huge and plays a big part in Newburyport, MA being a “community.”

I don’t imagine that most people would know what the president of Citigroup would look like, much less be able to say “Hi” on the street to that individual. Saying “Hi” to bank presidents on the street happens all the time in Newburyport, MA.

And in Newburyport, MA I’ve actually wandered into the office of bank presidents on several occasions, without an appointment, to say the most “trivial” of things.

I don’t imagine that during a blizzard the president of a “financial conglomerate” would come to check to see if a person is Ok. But, here in Newburyport, MA, this happens.

I don’t imagine that the president of a “financial conglomerate” when he hears that a child who has been in the hospital and that child has come home, would rush down the street to give the child’s parents a huge bear hug of relief. But here Newburyport, MA, this happens.

The people of Newburyport are not faceless numbers, dealt with by machines. They are human beings that are treated with dignity, individuality, empathy and respect by our local banks.

And for me, this is “priceless.”

Mary Eaton