Citizens Community Bank Offers Local Decision-Making, Personal Service

Barbara Kieker

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Community banks, defined by regulators as banks with less than $1 billion in assets under management, compete on relationships and customer service.  They represent a large portion of the total number of U.S. banks but hold a small fraction of total assets, which includes loans and other investments.  While large banks make money through the sheer volume of transactions made across their branch networks, community banks make money by providing services to local families and businesses.

"Our loan committee members live here and know our market lending area personally. Our decision-making is local and we can respond quickly to customer requests," said Tim Jones, president of Citizens Community Bank.

Citizens Community Bank serves families and businesses located within a 50-mile radius of Valdosta.  It has four branch locations: one in Morven, one in Hahira and two in Valdosta. The bank holds $123 million in assets, about 35 percent in consumer loans.  It offers competitive technology, but phone calls are still answered by a person, not a recording.

"A lot of people still want to get a person when they call and get financial planning and investment advice from a banker.  It's what we do best," Jones said.

Cautious Growth in 2012
According to Jones, Citizens Community would like to grow its loan portfolio with small- and medium-size businesses.  Bankers are out in the community talking with business owners about construction projects, business expansions, equipment purchases, credit lines and other commercial loans opportunities.

"The economy is still soft and there are a number of banks and credit unions serving this market, but we've grown somewhat cautiously so far in 2012," said Citizens Community Bank CEO Glenn Copeland.

Copeland believes small business owners are hesitant to expand given economic uncertainty, unemployment and a growing regulatory burden.  Many business start-ups and established businesses looking to expand face an increasing number of local, state and federal regulations.  Banks also face increased regulation that is impacting their business.

"The consumer protection legislation that came out of Washington is hurting consumers.  It's caused many banks to stop loaning to certain consumers," Jones said.

"Through our in-house mortgage service we used to serve consumers who might not qualify for a conforming fixed-rate mortgage.  Now that is much more difficult."

Growth for the bank now requires "a sharp pencil," according to Jones.  And while the housing market and economy are coming back some, the banking industry is unlikely to ever experience the growth it saw in 2004 - 2006.

Going Online
In June, Citizens Community Bank will launch new and improved Internet banking, including bill pay, mobile banking and hourly balance updates.  The new service will be easier and more convenient, addressing the most common service requests from customers.

"Internet banking and remote capture make it convenient for businesses located more than two or three miles from one of our branch locations," Jones said.  "And it's cost effective for the bank."

Remote capture technology enables a customer to scan checks and transmit the images to the bank electronically for immediate credit.  The bank uses technologies to cut its costs and enhance the personal and local service that, as a community bank, defines its niche in the market.

More information on Citizens Community Bank is available at

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.