The merger of IBERIABANK with a Tennessee-based financial institution just announced signals more than just a signage switch on the horizon.
"It means one less local bank," said Lakeside Bank President and CEO Mike Harmison," and that impacts the local economy and community more than some people may realize."
Doing business with a truly local bank keeps money moving in the local economy, provides jobs, grows local business and helps families finance major purchases and build financial security. Individuals who bank locally enjoy benefits that customers at certain large financial institutions don't — lower or no fees for instance.
With every bank merger and branch closure in Southwest Louisiana, those benefits are getting harder to find. Lakeside Bank continues to be one of only two truly local banks in Calcasieu Parish.
"When I started in this industry in the mid '60s, there were about 16,000 independent banks," Harmison said. "That number has been reduced by less than 5,000 today."
"To bring it even closer to home, Louisiana has 50 fewer banks than it did ten years ago," said Justin Holt, Lakeside Bank Executive Vice President.
"While we understand this new bank to be a very good one, it does mean certain decisions will become one step removed," Harmison said.
Corporate headquarters will be in Memphis. Regional headquarters will shift across the state to New Orleans. This makes it less likely Southwest Louisiana residents will enjoy the convenience of sitting down, face-to-face with a local decision making banker who knows them by name.
"Our customers talk to the person who'll be making the decision that impacts them financially," Harmison said.
Decisions made locally are more timely decisions, and they're not based solely on an application and an algorithm.
"Those numbers are important," said Harmison, "but we also base decisions on relationship, experience and our knowledge of the local market."
Mergers and branch closures are often a bank's attempt to respond to market challenges by maximizing the economy of scale.
Lakeside Bank faces the same challenges and responds by continuing its focus day in and day out in a hyper local way, providing products and services tailored to its customers, responding to the local market.
"We're invested right here, locally," said Holt. Our success is tied to our customers' success. That's our incentive."
How does Lakeside Bank compare to your bank?
Fees are almost always lower at local banks. Lakeside Bank offers personal banking options with a range of minimum balances and free, basic checks. Lakeside customers enjoy no monthly fees. They get discounts on safe deposit boxes and earn interest on checking.
When Lakeside Bank customers have a question, they'll make a local phone call and talk immediately to a real, live person.
Lakeside Bank sponsors local high school events, teaches financial literacy and money management to students, focuses on the needs of area seniors, honors veterans and first responders with special account opportunities, donates to an autism group, engages in special housing and jobs events and promotes wellness.
"I don't think you'll see any of the big banks' names on the back of your favorite little league's team shirts," Harmison said.
Because Lakeside is local, it thrives when you thrive – so your best interest is a priority. They, and their board of local business leaders, answer to you, their customers, their neighbors, their community … not a boardroom of decision makers living in another state whose primary focus is to make more money.
Lakeside knows that with every choice they make, the community is directly impacted. It's a responsibility they willingly accept because it's their home too.
To find out more about any of Lakeside's services, call (337) 474-3766 or visit www.mylksb.bank.