How are you, your bank employees and your community coping during the COVID-19 outbreak?
We are all exercising precautions to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are extraordinary times that require a tremendous amount of action from all of us. This virus is changing the way we live and challenging the way we do business.
From what I have observed, our employees and the communities we serve are adapting well. I have been impressed by how people are finding incredibly imaginative ways to connect and support one another while social distancing. However, we are all eager to return to our “normal” routines and lives.
The recent shift to prepare individuals to go back to work and for small businesses to reopen has us all cautiously optimistic. We have before us an opportunity to be flexible and to redefine “normal” as we begin to gradually reopen. We are starting now to prepare for how fundamentally different life and work will be.
I am proud to say that Peoples Exchange Bank has remained available to our customers throughout the pandemic. Customers have been reassured that their money is safe, FDIC insured, and they have utilized our digital services, call center, and drive thru to perform the majority of their banking transactions.
How are your customers and small businesses adjusting to these challenging times?
Community banks have transformed how we work and offer financial services to our customers during this unprecedented time. I think the shift to digital services will be permanent. Our customers have adapted well and have embraced the advantage and convenience of technology.
One thing that remains clear is that banks are heavily relied upon during crisis. The need for connection, money and information is important to the well being of our customers. Our staff has become advisors for stimulus payment information and SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program in addition to individual financial concerns. In the future, I think digital banking will no longer be an afterthought but an essential tool for money management. We are extremely proud that we were able to play a small part in keeping people in the communities we serve on the job. During the first wave of SBA PPP, we were able to assist over 200 small business customers with funding.
Throughout our footprint, we have seen small businesses step up to help their employees, customers, and community. They have been innovative in their capacity to continue operation when possible.
What kinds of support and programs are you providing to these customers?
Our focus has been to preserve our customer relationships and work with those struggling during the pandemic. Peoples Exchange Bank has provided the following:
- Payment deferrals
- Fee waivers
- Increase to customer support call center
- Online appointment scheduling
- Education on Digital Services (Mobile Banking, Online Banking, Bill Pay, Cash Management, Telephone Banking, Remote Deposit Capture, smart ATMs)
- SBA Paycheck Protection Program
We are trying to be very supportive of both our customers and communities which requires constant communication. It has also been important for us to help connect those in need with those wanting to help. We are fully committed to our role as a financial services partner - not just when things are easy, but whenever a customer needs us. We encourage our customers to contact us to discuss their individual circumstances and the potential solutions available to them.
What has the coronavirus crisis taught you so far?
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught the importance of being able to adapt. It has brought out the best in people, our employees, and the banking community in general. We are stronger for our efforts and ability to deal with change, pivot quickly, navigate unprecedented times, and empathize with those we serve and each other. The pandemic has put into play our Business Continuity Plan and we have expanded the scope of our operational resiliency to demonstrate that we can function during periods of disruption.
I have never been prouder of Peoples Exchange Bank and our commitment to customers and the communities we serve. Through the toughest conditions and imminent threat, the preparedness and commitment of our employees have allowed us to deliver the consistent service that our customers have come to expect. We have demonstrated that we can adapt. And that we will overcome.