Lessons Learned During the Pandemic, Community Banking More Relevant Than Ever

In this pandemic year, the strength of community banks was put to a test.

It was a new ballgame. They had to switch to a remote work environment and adjustments were made to help fuel the success of the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program). TCB The Cooperative Bank, like many local banks, had to work around the clock to serve its customers. But during this year of COVID-19, TCB’s CEO John Battaglia said in a recent interview that the company pivoted and thrived – making some new hires and gaining customers through the PPP loan program.

“In the beginning, we had to be flexible and implement some technical operational changes to better serve our customers, but our first priority was to keep our employees and customers safe,” said Battaglia, CEO of TCB. “We adjusted to working more remotely in a very short timeframe while handling record residential lending volume and helping the Federal Government with its paycheck protection program, which provided lifesaving services to small businesses. Fortunately, the strength of our community banking model has never been stronger, and more needed, during a year when larger banks were buying up smaller banking entities and our customers were looking for deeper connections. Community bank offices like ours are deeply involved with their local community. Our clients and local businesses are always at the center of everything we do,” continued Battaglia.

Community banks have long been the backbone of cities across the country. Even though this year proved a challenge to the banking industry as a whole, TCB continued to thrive and worked to meet the commitment to its customers and to solidifying long-term relationships within the communities they serve.

Battaglia said they were able to help business, and also non-profits in the communities they serve – noting they did one PPP loan for a non-profit that helped them when there were no fundraisers allowed. He also said it has helped TCB and other community banks that rely on personal relationships rather than an overabundance of technology.

He said during the pandemic, it was important to be able to speak with someone that one knew, like TCB’s Tom Coots in Charlestown, about their business and how it would make it through the storm.

“The tech side is great because you can pay bills online and it’s convenient,” he said. “But if you really need to talk to someone, you have to be able to call someone you know or be able to go to a branch. That’s the kind of philosophy we have – you have to be able to do both.”

Founded in 1898, The Cooperative Bank (TCB) is a full-service community bank committed to meeting the financial needs of individuals, families and small businesses. Offering up-to-date products, competitive interest rates and the highest quality personalized service TCB has assets totaling $439 million and provides banking services to over 8,400 customers. TCB has branches in Roslindale, West Roxbury, Charlestown and Jamaica Plain. For more information, please visit www.thecooperativebank.com, or call 617-325-2900.

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