"The needs of our business customers have not changed," says Tom Button, vice president of Park National Bank. "Business customers need bankers to be responsive and come up with new ways to help. They shouldn't have to worry about their banking relationships. That hasn't changed in the last 10 or 15 years."
Button says that despite the recent economic downturn, the most well-respected banks have not changed their approach.
"One of the key components to being a reliable banker is consistency," Button says. "Customer-focused banks treat customers the same way in good times and bad."
That means that while some banks may be loan-shy, reliable banks are still lending and growing.
"My sense is that competition in the industry is as intense as ever," says Button. "The good banks are reliable in terms of the loans they are willing to make in the current environment."
So are banks changing the way they do business? Button says yes, but dependable bankers have not altered their fundamental approach of developing deep relationships.
"Without a doubt, many banks have attempted to change strategic direction," says Button. "Some have broadened their product offerings by venturing into other business lines, many have developed an Internet delivery option, and some now use computers to approve loans."
That's not to say that the Newark-based, $4.4 billion bank hasn't launched its own high-tech solutions. The difference, though, is that it is still people -- experienced bankers -- who make the decisions.
"Some banks use a computer program to make loan decisions, but we feel that an experienced lender can come up with a better decision," says Button.
Sounds old-fashioned, says Button, but long-term relationships are the bread and butter of the banking industry. How to reach: Park National Bank, (614) 228-0063 or www.parknationalbank.com